Sunday, April 26, 2015

2015 Cohutta 100

I am starting to write this more than 24 hours after the finish of the race and parts of my legs are still sore. This race is the probably most suffering I have ever done, the most on a bike for sure!

Tammy handed me off to Tom near Asheville, I drove to give him a break and let him work from his mobile office, he is always being productive, that man is.  The GPS was a little off and we stopped at Ranger station first.  I hollered down to some guys riding crossing the bridge to ask them were registration was.  It was one of those small world moments as it was Michael Bonsby, he showed me around the MOCO Epic a while back.  I would see him many more times, several during the race as we were yo-yoing back and forth for a while, late in the race.

We get to registration, sign up, pick up our SWAG bag and number, some complementary pre-race pasta, confirmed no course changes with impending inclement weather, drove the opening road climb and walked down to the first hairy bottle neck, checked in to the hotel and had a little pizza to supplement our fuel and protein stores and were in bed a quarter past nine.  This is normal for Tom, I on the other hand had to move my bed time up gradually over the last several days, just so I could manage at 5am.  I was getting a head ache, probably a remnant of my 38 degree race tune.  I took some aspirin a and buried my head in the pillow until my hydration caught up to me at 3:30.  I little more fitful sleep, I could not let Tom have all the fun I guess.

The weather man was not wrong and we got up to rain and not quite 50 degrees out.  I foam rollered and stretched, suited up, packed up and headed to the start.  I lined up with TK on the line, just for good measure, at the front.  After a short prayer from the race starter, the race started at 7:02.  The start pace was pretty brisk.  I fell to about mid pack early and re-caught several riders towards the top after they were fading from the 10 plus minute effort.  I felt like I was just warming up.  I only saw 3 single speeders pass me, but it was hard to tell for sure in the sea of gearies.  I caught one and got on the wheel of a gearie behind behind him, just before the single track.  I aimed to mark him as long as I could.  We made several passes in the tight single track, until we came to a long train and rode it out until one punchy climb where someone went and several of us followed.  I had 2 good saves in that first single track; my front tire caught a rock just wrong on this narrow rise and pitched me sideways, towards the abyss, I unclipped and stabbed the ground with my foot, righted myself and was clipped back in, miraculously without losing any moment or stalling the guys on my wheel.  The next was crossing the creek before crossing the suspension bridge.  I tried to follow a guys line but he bobbled.  I was forced on to some big slabs that everyone seemed to be avoiding.  They very slick and under several inches of rushing water.  My wheels slide hither and fro and somehow I managed to right the ship.  I rinsed the mud off my glasses only to have them completely fog up for the a decent climb out of the river,  Then my brakes went out.  I just put new pads in for the race and the grit wore them down some much that I had adjust my mechicals.  The self adjusting nature of hydraulics was looking pretty goo right about then.  I lost some places a couple times until I got it right, stashed my glasses in a pocket and got back to it.  I did not stop for rest stop one, as #2 was so close.  I passed several that did stop, including that SSer that I marked.  "Now on to the fire road portion of today's activities', That SSer cuaght and passed me, commenting on the size of my gear, we were both standing.  I was feeling pretty good, though, with a just a few twinges of cramps around mile 40.  From 50 on they were increasing.  The rain stopped and the sun made its way out.  But the damage was done, my bike and I were covered in mud.  I switched from my cool weather fueling and tried to get more water into the mix.  I was happy with pretty much all my rest stops, as they were quick and the volunteers very helpful.  I dropped my vest and long  gloves at #4, filled my bottles and heard them say it would be 35 miles till i got back there.  It took a while for that to sink in, when about 20 miles into that 35, I see a pop up at a "T" intersection, thinking it was and aid station, I asked for water. They said they were not an aid station, they topped me off anyway and said the real one was still 15 miles away.

My average speed was bouncing between 11 and 10 MPH,  I was starting to have hopes of a sub 10 hour time, 9:40 even maybe.  Things were looking up as long as I could keep the cramps at bay and now this queasiness in my stomach.

This is really long already and I need to go to bed.  Look for part 2 soon,  I should have my results by then as well.  See Part 2 Here

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cohutta Prep

So on February 11th, I get a phone call from my good friend Tom Kruse, Spelled with a "K" not that other guy.  He is taking on the National Ultra Endurance Series this year.  His first one will be Cohutta, which just happens to be only three hours away from Brevard.  Does this sound familiar?  Well the same thing happened for Tatanka.  You guessed it; he asked me to consider doing Cohutta on April 25th, just a scant 11 weeks out.  I had hardly been on a bike since early December and my first MTB ride since November was just February 1st.  It was my first single speed ride since October.

I know, sounds like every racer on the start line right?

Single Speed is my favorite way to ride, but I went down pretty hard on my left shoulder back in early September.  It has taken several months to get it to 95% and I was not willing to risk most of Pisgah on a SS.  Up until early December, I was doing a ton of endurance work exploring the forest service roads and back country single track of Pisgah on my geared bike.  Still pretty harsh on a rigid, but I was learning the area and it was pretty cool.  And then...

With all that, I was pretty sure Cohutta was a non-starter.  I had already planned to refocus on my kettle belling and hikes with Tammy.  But I had until April 1st to decide, if registration did not fill by then.  Following TK's call, I did several endurance rides on the road through our few weeks of winter, but then I decided to try something completely different.  Just two rides a week (one long, one short), only on my single speed and only mountain biking, two kettle bell sessions, some yoga, a hike and /or the occasional walk per week and log it all on my special TSS spreadsheet.  TK noticed all the SSing I was doing and said, "You're not thinking about doing Cohutta on a SS are you?", like I was crazy or something.  I said if I was doing it, it would be on my favorite bike.  He said I could put gears on it.  I said "Uh Uh".

When I started, I was on a 34X22 and North Slope was darn tough,

I added Lower Sycamore for a little fun.  That first ride was 11 miles and it was rough.
Was I nuts even considering doing 10 times that much in 10 weeks?!  I added Upper Sycamore the next week.  In a month, I replaced Upper Sycamore with Thrift Cove and then switched out lower Sycamore for Upper. It was a good month and a half before I changed to the 21t cog.  10 more days I was on the 20.  Finally Thrift for an FTP two fer

I had been adding about half an hour each week to my long ride.  April 1st came along and we were hosting at Cascade Lake.  I had been thinking about riding up the 6.5 mile Cascade Lake Road to Dupont from camp for my long rides.  I was not relishing this on a SS.  Long and gradual and then the reverse coming back down with that steep last nut heading up Little River Road.  Tammy kept asking me geared or SS.  I said "I do not know".  At the last minute I decided to stick with the SS game plan.

Along with the kettle bell strength training, I had been working on standing a lot.  My average speed started just below 9 MPH.  11+ hours for Cohutta then!  My AVG MPH slowly climbed to 9.5 over the last few weeks.  Better but still 10+ hours for Cohutta, if I could hold it.  My rides did seem to have more climbing per mile than Cohutta, but still.  I had hoped to go to a 19t cog, each tooth meant more speed but harder to turn over on the steeps.  It was getting close to go time.  I had to switch wheels because a bearing went out on my older Powertap hub.

It meant a tire switch, so I put on the steeper cog as well and went for my last long ride.  Five hours, tapering down from six the week before.  I felt faster and slower all at the same time, it was weird.  I thought my wheel size setting might be different between hubs, but my AVG speed seemed up.  Later, the down load would confirm the 10 MPH AVG.  Now I have a shot at 10 hours.

Compared to the 20t the 19 gave me a little trouble on the steeps, but not much, and some steeps seemed easier.  I could pedal in more situations.  I could stand more effectively on lesser grades, 4% and up instead of 5% and up.  Seemingly contradictory, I could stay seated and maintain momentum, instead of coasting and then standing on rollers.  That is where I picked up half a mile per hour from the same ride (except in the wet, plus a bonus climb) as 2 weeks ago.  Even with some training effect and I had my Black Sheep titanium fork back in place of my Salsa steel fork, some of it has to be the 34X19.  Don't ask me which elevation is correct.  Just trust me there was more on the 4/17 ride than the 4/4 ride.

After the Little River Crossing