Saturday was the 2nd Annual Bailey HUNDO, a new charity race to raise money for local children's organizations. It was my second time at the event. Last year I had a bad day and crushed my foot at mile 40 when I impaled it into the sharp edge of a sawed off tree stump. I broke three toes and rode off the course on the back of the park ranger's quad runner.
This year I had a great race! I finished 57 of 188 finishers (250 registered, not sure what happened to all those yet). I was 9th place in my category of 30-39 year olds which was comprised of about 50 racers.
This year I was excited and concerned to be back. A hundred mile mountain bike race is not one to be taken lightly. There can be serious health related consequences if things go wrong, and unlike some other 100 mile mountain bike race(s), this one truly requires mountain bike handling skills on top of endurance. Also, the HUNDO is a giant loop, so it is not convenient if there is a reason to drop out especially way out on the far end.
The race started a few minutes after the 6 AM schedule in "downtown" Bailey, apparently the Sheriff was running late as he was washing his truck and he was needed to block the highway. We headed off to the shot of the seemingly traditional shotgun blast by 6:03. My start strategy for this year was to go at a pace that was going to work for me. I kept an eye on my heart rate and made sure it stayed below 175 for the first seven miles of steep rolling dirt mountain road. Last year I thought it would be a good idea to at least have visual contact with the lead group, that was stupid... At about mile 7 the singletrack started, headed east on the Colorado Trail.
For approximately the next 50 miles the race was on singletrack and double track, 40 miles of that I estimate as reasonably tough singletrack with either steep climbs or steep descents. Much of the singletrack was covered in decomposing granite, the size of peas.
I got a reminder of the technical sketchy nature of the course within the first ten miles of the race. At a rather rutted spot that I have ridden fine at least three times this year, for some reason I decided to put my front wheel right into the rut rather than riding around the edge of it. I recall it was a very conscious decision, it was a really bad one. I went down pretty hard, managing to put my mouth in the dirt and gravel, and shoveled a good amount in. My right knee and shin took the brunt of the blow and bled nicely for a bit. And somehow my Garmin 500 managed to carry the blow of the bike, grinding the face of the device to the point that it probably has little or no Ebay value.
For the next couple of miles I was a bit shaken and it was showing in my riding. I had to listen to two guys complaining behind me that felt I should let them by. I would have had there been a place to, but I was not going to stop and pull over. I was 2 seconds off the wheel of teammate Bill Wheeler and he was pretty much on the wheel of the guy in front of him. So, whatever the two impatient dudes behind me wanted to complain about I could not understand where they were wanting to go. Anyway, on the first switchback of the next climb I glanced back and they were falling back by at least 200 ft out of breath and slowing down.
For the next several hours there was nothing but sweet singletrack! Some hard climbing, a little bit of slickrock, twisty fast descending followed by more climbing, almost all under tree cover except for the sections in the "burn" areas. The burn areas were especially tricky since they have been exposed for 10-15 years, and the singletrack was extra greasy with kitty litter and ball bearing covered hard packed trail.
Finally I got to the last miles of singletrack and found myself with Sonya Looney, who represented the U.S.A at the Marathon World Championships in Germany last year and was selected to go again this year but could not make it. I figured I was doing pretty good at this point, but I was not feeling quite right. I had some serious hunger pains, and my plan was for some solid foods at the 1/2 point, which was the next aid stop. However, my body had needs I didn't plan for and the hunger pains turned to nausea. Which in turn had me focusing on the wrong things and my shoulders tightened and locked. The last few miles of singletrack were brutal for me, I felt like crap. The last few switchbacks were so tight I had to walk a couple of them, I almost crashed over an edge once. Finally I made it down to the Platte River and the aid station a few places further back but in one piece!
I got to my drop bag and was helped by teammate Sarka Ruzickova, who did not make it into the race but volunteered to help the team out. I downed some Honey Stinger Waffles, and a Honey Stinger Engergy bar, took on more Carborocket Half Evil 333, and hit the road. The last 40 plus miles of the race was on some pavement and mostly on dirt mountain roads. On the way out of the 1/2 way point I managed to get on the wheel of Brian Scott Bergerler, who let me draft off him while I tried to find my energy and calm my stomach. I almost threw up twice, literally it was half way up, but I managed to keep the food down.
After a while I was feeling better and decided to trade off with Brian and took the lead for a bit. Suddenly a train of about eight guys caught us and they were working together in a nice paceline. We jumped on. Several times we were hammering pretty hard, I was feeling a lot better, almost back to normal. I stayed with this group as we went through aid station seven, half the group dropped off. We continued to loosely work together for several hours but most of that was a long ass hot dirt road climb up Stoney Pass, more or less we road together and sort of chatted a bit along the way. Three guys were one the same team so I was was the outsider, probably not all that welcome to ride with them.
At aid station eight I was met by another teammate who was helping out, Les Handy. He grabbed some water for me and I was on my way with the small little squad I had been with. I didn't last much longer with them as I had to stop to use the bathroom. I had been holding it for four or five hours at this point and really needed to go. Unfortunately it turned into a ten minute ordeal, I really had to go! I should have stopped earlier, I didn't know my bladder could hold so much! By this point the guys I had been riding with had disappeared around a bend, I was solo again.
I rode the next hour or so completely solo. I crossed a cesspool of a stream... yuck, that was disgusting but cold and refreshing at the same time. I crossed a second stream, much cleaner... was almost run over by a Prius, not sure how he was getting over the water crossings but hoped he got stuck! Then finally aid 9, right outside of Wellington Lake. There was some seriously rough road descents down to the lake that I pinned as close to the edge of being reckless as possible, and caught three or four people. I hit the flat along the lake and kept my tempo going and before I knew it I was at aid 10, the last aid station before the finish.
The last eight miles were the same rolling dirt roads we started the race on but going the other direction this time. I had ridden these a few times and knew if I let myself get a lot of speed on the descents I could use the momentum to carry me up the other side. So I was hitting speeds on these windy dirt and gravel roads well into the 40-45 MPH range, and was flying. I caught the three guys I had been with a few hours earlier at about five miles to go. At the time I had quite a bit of momentum going so I sped past them. Finally the last few hills came, then the last one where I could see the turnoff at the top. I was hurtin' and the guys I had just passed decided they wanted to race to the end.
Most people don't understand the affect of riding with a group has on saving energy, setting a pace, as well as encouragement. So as the three guys caught me with about 100m of climbing to go they were working together quite closely. I tried to jump on but had nothing, so they passed me, and finished about 30 seconds in front of me.
I can't imagine having a perfect race when it comes to these 100 milers, I suppose it could happen, but the HUNDO this year was pretty close to perfect for me. My overall strategy was to focus on nutrition, which for the most part worked out okay. I need to figure out how to eat solid food when racing on singletrack, I know my tummy needs it. Also, I managed my energy and efforts. I never went full throttle, and while for much of the race I usually felt like I could ride harder I resisted the temptation. I recall several singletrack section I thought to myself how much fun they are when going all out, but was able to resist and conserve energy. At the end I crossed the finish line sufficiently exhausted, but not sick or dying! I had a good bike ride!
I've got a lot of support this year and thank all of the Epic Endurance team sponsors as well as my personal sponsors! Here we go, I hope I get everyone;
• Wheat Ridge Cyclery: our team shop and a HUGE thanks for the camping arrangements in Bailey as well as the awesome dinner the night before the race. You guys are pros! • Ergon Bike Ergonomics: good friends and great products for racing comfort. My GX2 Carbons combined with the HX2 gloves are a perfect system for racing comfort and protection! • Zeal Optics: as always kept the dust and pebbles out of my eyes and kept the sun out of my eyes but let me see in the shade • Mix 1: recovery drink that works! I've drank a lot of Mix 1 since Saturday! • Crank Brothers: pedals that don't break and are super light! • Stan's NoTubes: ghetto tubeless on Stan's rims is the only way I roll! • Schwalbe Tires: great traction, comfort, and durability to get through some of the nastiest singletrack • Carborocket: the hydration and calories I rely on for both racing and training, tasty and effective! • Honey Stinger: just what my belly needed at aid 6! • The GearMovement: I have been about to recover more than $7000 from my used stuff this year, Yay! Makes getting new stuff so much easier! • My personal sponsors: Golden Bike Shop and Niner Bikes: good friends who might be more like drug dealers, I'm addicted to those bikes! My Air9 Carbon did me well this weekend. I can't wait for my new bikes!!!! Thanks for making my addiction affordable (sort of)!