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brewer's Take on the The Dirty Dozen

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Lap 1

I had ridden this course before but was still nervous since this was my first time in “competition” on a mountain bike in 12 years.  Plus it was cold waiting at the starting line in shorts and a t-shirt.  I heat up pretty fast once I start moving so I didn’t want any extra layers on me.  Time passed very slowly waiting at the exchange point but I finally saw NB approaching the finish line. 

I started off relatively easy.  The first half of the course is the “easy” part with a lot of switchbacks and short root covered climbs and ledges.  The back half is a long sustained climb followed by even more long climbs.  I wanted to make sure I still had some gas in the tank for the back half.  I tried to keep my heart rate around 165-170 on this first part which is 85-90% of max.  I got in the middle of a fast group and was pushing a little too hard keeping the pace.  We came around a fast 180 degree turn covered in loose rock and my front wheel washed out.  I couldn’t get my left foot unclipped fast enough to plant it so down I went.  I landed on some rocks but just frogged my leg and scraped it up a bit.  I jumped back on the bike but had lost track of the group so I settled down into a bit slower pace.  I hit the back pasture which was covered in tacky mud and felt like someone had my brakes on.  This bumped my heart rate up a bit since I had to work harder to maintain the same speed.  I backed off a tad to recover on the last long straight before the suspension bridge and climbs started and allowed three more people passed me.  We started the climb over the bridge and my legs felt strong.  There was a traffic jam on the long, steep, narrow climb so we all dismounted and pushed up the hill.  I started gaining on the guys who had passed me on that last straight.  There is a long winding climb up through the trees before some bmx jumps where I caught up to them.  I stayed on their wheel through the next woodsy technical section since there wasn’t room to pass.  The trail widened on the climb up to the pond dam where I got around two of them.  I was almost up to my max hear rate in this climb feeling like crap when I noticed that Ed had just taken a picture.  I’ve had better photo moments.  I passed the last guy on top of the dam when he was still recovering from the climb.  The last half mile is a fast hammer section with a brief run through the trees.  I popped out of the woods and started the climb to the finish while trying to get my gloved hand around the medallion and not my St Christopher necklace.  This turned out to be harder than I thought but I got the bike stopped and the medallion passed over to Dr Josh for his turn on the course.  My average heart rate for this lap was 175 or 92% of my max heart rate which was right where I wanted to be.

Lap 2

We had roughly 2 hrs and 15 minutes between our laps since each person was running around 45 min laps.  This sounds like a long time to wait but it passed quickly.  By the time I made it back to our camp, recovered from the ride, fixed something to eat, changed out of my sweaty riding gear, worked on the bike and rested a bit it was time to gear back up, hit the porta john and get ready for NB to finish his lap. 

After Lap 1 I felt that I had taken it too easy on the front half of the course and could cut at least a minute off my time.  I took off fast and quickly got my heart rate up to 175.  I hit 180 on the climb into the first 3mile technical section.  I was trying to go fast and was out of the saddle exiting tight turns and short climbs keeping my heart rate at 180.  As I made it down Gas Pass and start the 1-2 mile loop around the pasture I was at 180-185 bpm and moving along pretty good although I was starting to feel tired.  At the climb after the suspension bridge I knew I had made a mistake and gone out too hard – my legs turned to lead and climbs that were “easy” the first lap were now lung and leg burners.  I maxed out at 191 bpm on the long climb before the bmx jumps.  I recovered as much as possible on the downhill but was hating life.  I made it through the technical section keeping a steady pace and gutted it out the last half mile and was very happy to see the finish line.  According to my watch I had cut a whopping 30 secs off my lap time but was exhausted both physically and mentally.  The official time was 45 minutes just like my first lap.  My average heart rate was 181 bpm or 95% of max.  6 extra beats per minutes left me feeling totally wiped out.  I knew I couldn’t run Lap 3 the same way I did #2 especially since I had the same lap time on the record.

I made it back to camp, mixed up some Endurox and basically collapsed.  I started having some stomach issues at this point and became a frequent visit to the blue thrones.  The liquid diet wasn’t agreeing with my stomach but solid food didn’t sound good at all.  I choked down some granola and one quarter of a bagel with some peanut butter and honey on it.  I crawled into the tent and took a quick powernap.  I realized I hadn’t touched my bike and did a quick chain clean and front derailleur adjustment and then it was time to get dressed and get back to the line.

Lap 3

It was actually pretty hot on the second lap but had turned overcast and cooled off a bit before this one which I was glad to see.  My plan for this lap was to try to do a repeat of my lap #1 strategy.  As I rode up to the exchange area I noticed my legs were feeling tired which wasn’t a good sign since I hadn’t even started my lap yet.

NB showed up and it was time to go.  I started off with an easy spin down the hill, around the pond and back up the hill trying to stay below 170.  I entered the twisty technical section and decided to not use my brakes on the turns.  I got in a good rhythm and was flowing through the course keeping my speed up without much effort.  I exited this section in the same elapsed time as previous runs without using near as much energy.  The rest of the lap was pretty uneventful.  The 6hr groups had already finished so there were a lot fewer people on the course.  The last half still hurt but I was able to keep it in the middle chainring the whole time.  I once again turned a 45 minute lap but this time my average hear rate was down to 171.

I was having some pretty major stomach issues at this point and spent most of the down time before Lap 4 trying to fill up the porta john.  I tried to drink a bottle of Endurox but that sent me straight to the john.  I couldn’t stomach any solid food either so I drank a bit of water and laid down between trips up to the portolet. 

Lap 4

I started this lap right before dusk.  I had the NiteRider HID light mounted on my helmet and was a little wary of what was to come since I had never done any night riding.  I entered the first technical section and had to turn the light on since the trees were blocking most of the light that was left.  I continued to try to run smooth and fast through here racing the fading light.  My heart rate was only in the mid 160s but I felt like I was pushing relatively hard but not too hard.  I broke out of the woods went down Gas Pass and hit the pasture loop just as the light went away.  The mud felt like it was slowing me down more than usual and I tried to pick up the pace but I couldn’t get my hear rate above 170 and sustain it.  170 felt like the upper 180s did on lap # 2.  I was running about 1 minute behind my previous laps at the beginning of the climb on the suspension bridge and knew I was off.  I wasn’t feeling too bad and I pushed as hard as I could but I was just out of gas and couldn’t hold the pace of previous laps.  The other problem I was having was that the helmet light was distorting the height of the objects in the trail.  Since the light was shining from top down it was making the roots appear shorter than they actually were.  This made for some rude surprises when I smacked into a 8” high root that looked like a 2” inch one.  These problems slowed me down a bit and I dropped 2 min on this lap and came in at 47 minutes.  My average heart rate was only 165.  I think I came into this lap dehydrated due to my gastro issue and the fact that I didn’t drink enough water.  Not eating anything before this lap didn’t help either.  This was also the first time I had ever ridden my mountain bike 35 miles and kept up a hard pace for so long.  All those combined together to make me hit the wall.  I’m glad I only dropped 2 minutes though.

Overall this was a lot of fun.  Our team is pretty evenly matched in capability except for the young guy who is faster than all of us.  At least we’ll have a rabbit to chase for the rest of the season.  I was amazed at some of those “pro” riders and how fast they blew by me on the hills.  I came out of this needing to work on a couple of things.  First is to find out what type of nutrition is going to work for me on these long days.  Second is to work on increasing my power output on the bike.  I can hold a high heart rate long enough but I need to be able to put more power to the ground at that same heart rate.  I guess I had better start running too since the next race is a three event-er.

Race Pictures

Any day now....

My heart is about to explode

Maybe I should get disc brakes

Going with the flow

Roots, roots everywhere running all around

Dorkus Amongus

NB's Page Dr. Josh's Page Dirty Dozen Results shaggy's Page


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