Wednesday, July 25, 2012

DK Gear

I said in the last post I would write about what I used during the DK200, and I know it has been a little while so here it is.

Bike: 2007 Salsa Casseroll, stock frame and fork.
           1x9 42 tooth front ring and I believe 12-25 rear with downtube shifter
            WTB Open Pro rims  700x35 Schwalbe Marathon w/ Green Guard
            WTB Rocket saddle
            Poco Bars
             Shimano spd pedals

     I bought this bike to use for this race last year and instantly fell in love with it.  While the casseroll is really just a road bike, the steel frame is very forgiving and the only real downside is the limited clearance for big tires.  I have always been a little unsure about the range of the rear cassette but have always been able to ride all the big hills around home, so no real reason for change.  1x9 works good for me and especially with the downtube/friction shifter.  Keeping it simpler with less chance of problems with cables or shifters, bar end shifters would probably work just a little better since the downtube is a little difficult to get to with a frame bag.  I didn't know much about the schwalbe tires but since the tires I ran last year were discontinued I needed new tires. I had great luck with no flats this year despite some pretty rough crossings later in the race.  My bars were fine but next year I might try some woodchippers or at least double wrap to try to prevent the numbness and tingling that lasted nearly a week after the race this year.  Pedals are a personal preference, the ones I have came with the bike when I bought it and work fine so no reason to change.

     Nutrition can make or break your race. This year mine made it, the cooler temperatures probably helped too.   Last year I know I didn't eat or drink near enough.  In preparation this year I tried to find foods that tasted good to me even during longer rides.  Crystal hooked me up this year by making me a homemade version of a tangle/frame bag for my hydration bladder and a custom "feedbag".  I know that without these two things I never would have made it.  I carried plenty of food in the feedbag and had the hydration bladder full of water and two to three bottles of gatorade or powerade on the bike/in jersey pockets.  Crystal freshened each of these or changed them out at each checkpoint.

Food in the feedbag:
     Honeystinger waffles- honey and strawberry flavor
     Payday Candy Bar
     Mini pack Skittles
     Clif Shot blocks
     Honey Stinger gels
     Applesauce to go pack

What I ate at checkpoints:

     First Checkpoint- Peanut Butter and honey on whole wheat flatbread sammies.
     Second- ham/turkey/cheese sandwich
     Third- two slices of pepperoni pizza
     I ate dill pickle spears at every checkpoint and drank some of the juice. That may not sound appetizing, but is really good, seriously try it.  I also tried to drink at least one bike bottle of fluids while there. 

    Overall I felt like my nutrition was pretty well spot on. I tried to eat every 45 mins even if I didn't feel hungry. That wasn't too hard except for right after coming out of the checkpoints, but I did it anyway.  I probably didn't quite drink as much as I should have in the first leg, but never felt dehydrated and had clear urine for the majority of the race.  I tried to drink around every 15-20 minutes, but that is tough too. My advice would be eat before you are hungry and drink before you get thirsty or else it will be to late.  I have used electrolyte tabs in the past with good results, but had some pretty serious cramps at Cedar Cross in the spring.  I intended to use them at DK but forgot to pack them until during the third leg, and then still did not use them and had zero cramps. Water, stawberry-lemonade Powerade, and Glacer Frost Freeze Gatorade made up my fluids and seemed to work great as well.

    A few other tidbits:  I brought spare shorts and jersey in case I wanted to change during the day. I did change into my heavier padded shorts at the halfway point.  Chamois Butter was used all day, very liberally with minimal chaffing/rawness.  I took some ibuprofen at the first and second checkpoint, mostly due to some stiffness/ pain in my back under my left shoulder blade. This eventually went away which was good since I only felt like I could get about half of a breath while it was there. As of today there aren't very many changes setup wise that I would change for next year.  Better bar tape, insulation for the hydration bladder, possibly bar end shifter or maybe even just go singlespeed. =)

Monday, June 11, 2012

DK 2012

   Going farther than you have ever gone before.

    Warning this post is pretty long, but it is hard to condense over 19 hrs of pure awesomeness down.

  After only completing the first half of DK200 last year, I knew I would be back this year. I just had to be, and the only thing I really wanted was to finish the race. Last year served as a good introduction as to what I was in for and what I needed to work on to achieve my goal. Leading up to and since this race I have encountered more than one individual that said: " Two hundred miles? In one day? Are you crazy? Why?"  To that I say, yes, yes, yes, and because everyone needs to push themselves and see what you can do, but mostly just because yes I am crazy!

     As anyone who has ever done this race before, it sneaks up on you. You start out signing up in January with plenty of time to train and the next thing you know it is the end of May and race day is upon you.   We ( Crystal, Chris, and myself) drove into Emporia on Friday afternoon under cloudy skies, cool temps and afternoon showers.  We found our hotel, Best Western, which was less than impressive and headed downtown to get checked in. We ran into several friends before we could even make it to the Granada for sign in, but soon made our way inside and received our pre-race packet.  My plan had been to hook up with the Team Virtus guys for dinner but they were not into town yet so we made a quick Walmart run for last minute necessities and then found our way to The Pizza Ranch for dinner.  Now Chris was slightly apprehensive about loading up on pizza the night before a big race, but I was really hungry and ready to take that chance.  After dinner and feeling stuffed to the gills we headed back downtown to the theater for the pre-race meeting, found our seats and settled in to shortly be joined by Team Virtus and Jim and Wendy Davis. The meeting was short and to the point with very little to be covered and soon we were headed back to our hotel.  We made a few last minute preparations, laid out our gear, and were in bed by around 10:30 I believe.
     4 a.m. came early  after a night of poor sleep due to the pre-race anxiety.  Race start wasn't until 6a.m. but I don't like to be rushed and wanted to have plenty of time to take care of business before the start.  We had not really planned well for our breakfast and had opted for frozen breakfast stuff that we could cook in the microwave. I opted for breakfast burritos, Chris had chimichangas I believe.  This was a big risk, but it turned out fine with no adverse effects, i.e. upset stomachs. I managed to eat two of my burritos, washed them down with about half of a mr. pibb, followed by some powerade and felt great and ready to go.  Chris could only take a couple bites of his, and I am not sure if he ate anything else, but this was nothing new as he rarely eats before a race anyways.  With everything loaded we headed downtown for the race start. As luck would have it we parked right across the street from Team Virtus which made it pretty easy to find them before the race started.  Soon we were all lined up in the 18hr finish time group and ready to go.  We had four rookies and four previous DK participants and the adventure was set to begin.

Leg 1:  Emporia to Cassoday 62 miles
    We all rolled out together near the very back of the 400 plus participants and settled in for what would be our longest rides ever.  The beginning of this race is kinda funny because it is really easy to get caught up in the atmosphere and be pushing way harder and faster than you want, but we managed to stay around our intended speed.  Robby Brown was the first one to peel off of the front after a few miles and we never really saw him again until the end  of the race.  I don't know for sure but I think we all had the same kind of agreement, we wanted to ride together at all costs short of causing someone to miss a checkpoint.  Chris appeared strong and rode out front of the group for a while and the miles ticked by, 5, 10, 15, 20. We all leap frogged back and forth and every time I would see him I would ask if he was ok. Around the 25 mile mark I passed Chris, asked if he was ok, reminded him to eat and drink, he said he was ok and I went on.  I didn't think he was looking like he was really feeling it, but I also knew he had one goal and that wasn't necessarily finishing.  Chris just wanted to ride as far as he could and try to get a grasp on the Dirty Kanza experience.  About a month or so before the race Chris had came down with pneumonia and this put a big damper on his training.  I continued pedaling along with Team Virtus and Justin Nemeth and taking in the beautiful scenery along the first leg. I was feeling good and remebering to eat and drink and things seemed to be rolling right along.  Somewhere around 10 miles out of Cassoday we were all stopped regrouping and probably taking a leak, it seemed someone was stopping every five miles to pee, when we looked at the time.  We had been taking it easy conserving energy and enjoying the ride and now we had about an hour or so to make the cutoff, we were unsure of exactly how far it was to the checkpoint but we knew somewhere between 8-12 miles.  It was then that Bob,Luke, Justin and I grouped up to make up some time.  We knocked out those last miles pretty quick and made the checkpoint with about thirty minutes to spare. We got our maps and headed over to our transition that our wonderful support crews had set up for us.  Team Virtus had a nice ez-up canopy and all of our chairs were set up under it.  Crystal quickly came to my side to see what I needed.  I was pretty sure that I had explained what I would want ready for me, but that is up for discussion, so I am sure I was a little bit snappy with her, but she took it well and soon was getting me a sandwich and switching out my bottles and camelbak bladder. I received a small scolding for still having well over half of the camelbak full and that I needed to drink more.  It had been all of our intentions to try to have around a 15 minute transition and to recover on the bike but it didn't happen.  Kate came in a little while after us and that only left Chris on the first leg.  A few minutes before the 12 o clock cut off he came riding up, it seemed he had barely made it, but he was quick to inform us he had gotten a ride in, his ride ended just past 50 miles, still his longest ride to date, but not as far as he intended. He would now be joining the ranks of our support crew.  We were ready to roll out at right around noon, we were restocked, our bikes had been lubed and tires checked by Casey and it was time for the second leg.

Leg 2:  Cassoday to Florence 44 miles

     Once again we all rolled out together and I was feeling great.  We quickly came to the place where my race fell apart last year and I was glad to roll right on past it.  A lot of this leg seemed familiar to Bob and I probably cause we both spent a lot of time sulking along it last year in our own peronal pain caves.  The second leg of the race is definetly less scenic than the first and for us would be riding in the heat of the day.  The second leg of the race also contains the most " Low maintenance, enter at your own risk" roads.  It was last year on this leg that I had my only flat of the race. Around halfway through this leg shortly after hitting the rough part of the road Bob got a flat tire.  We all stopped to try and assist him and it was a good opportunity for a bathroom break.  Kate quickly decided she would ride on since she felt like her pace was slower than ours.  I am pretty sure we had to have stopped in the hottest, most humid place and soon everyone was sweating it out while Bob worked on the tire. He soon had a new tube in and was ready to inflate it, I saw him pull out his pump and start to pump. I don't know if he didn't had his co2 or what but I quickly got mine out for him to use. It was too hot to exert energy pumping up a tire.  Tire fixed we headed on down the road and within a couple miles we caught up with Kate.  I'll never know, but I don't think she was feeling the greatest right then, and she never let on any different.  Within a few more miles Bob and Kate had both dropped back and our group was down to Luke, Justin, Adam and I.  We were all a little worried about Bob and Kate but the clock was ticking and the sun was beating down on us so we pedaled on.  With about 8 miles to the checkpoint we heard a loud pop followed by a rush of air and Justin had a flat.  It sounded like his tire had exploded, this was not good, not good at all. We all stopped and Luke went back to help him.  His tire had not exploded, just a fast flat. Thank goodness. Adam rolled on to keep his legs loose and Luke soon suggested that I continue on as well. Knowing that the cutoff time would be looming we all needed to keep moving in case of any further mechanicals.  Adam and I leap frogged back and forth all the way into town and came into the checkpoint only a minute or two apart. We beat the 4:30 cutoff, I am not sure exactly what time but we had made it. Our crews were ready for us and we were soon being pampered. I had made sure Crystal knew what food I would want and she was ready and waiting.  Luke and Justin were not too far behind us, shortly followed by Bob and the Kate.  We had all made it to the halfway point.  I still felt pretty good and everyone else seemed to be doing alright. Everyone had a sore but and could feel the effects of over one hundred miles, but everyone was going to head back out.  I was resupplied, changed shorts, re applied my chamois butter and ready to head out for the third leg.  I was in better shape than I had been last year and I knew I was going farther than I had ever gone before.

Leg 3:  Florence to Council Grove 59 miles

   We had seen  people all day that we knew but this race spreads everyone out so you never know who you will see, but Jim Davis and Derrick Boos had been at the checkpoint when we arrived and rolled out right before us. So that made two more people that were going farther than they had last year. They were both looking good and were soon out of our sight.  Adam was the first to roll out in an attempt to keep loose, shortly followed by Luke, Justin, and myself.  Bob and Kate hung back wanting to rest a little longer, assuring us they would be right behind us.  This leg was the same as last year, but Luke was the only one that had seen it before, totally new territory for me and I was looking forward to it.  The three of us pedaled along at a decent pace knowing that we had just over 5 hours to complete the 59 miles to the next checkpoint.  We looked back a lot to see if we could see Bob and Kate and forward for Adam for a while, but it was just the three of us.  Somewhere in the first 10-15 miles I think, Luke and I were pedaling along and realized Justin had fallen back. We hadn't heard anything, he just was gone. We briefly stopped to ponder waiting, but knowing we had a long ways to go we continued on. Time ticked on and we eventually came upon a large group gathered on a bridge. Adam, Jim, and Derrick were all stopped to assist a rider. It was Derrick's brother Kyle, he had been riding strong ( we hadn't seen him since the first few miles of the race) and had been struck with debilitating spasms in his back.  His day was over, Derrick and Jim had made some calls and left messages to get Emma to come and get him and everyone headed on down the road.  It was around this time that something lit a fire under Jim Davis and he was off like lightning, Luke and I quickly realized we didn't want to try his pace and settled back into our own grind.  I am not sure what happened with Adam at this point, heck he may not have even been there, I am not really sure.  Derrick came around us in an attempt to catch Jim and was soon out of sight, but not for long.  A couple miles down the road we passed him up and he didn't look so great.  I think the little sprint to try and catch Jim kinda zapped him, hopefully not too much though.  Luke and I pedaled on knocking the miles down one after another.  It was around this point Luke had put in his earphones and was entering his own dark period. He never said anything but he started to fall a little bit behind me and I assumed he was not feeling well and before long he was gone. I rounded a corner, stopped to pee and he was nowhere to be found. I contemplated going back but knew that we all needed to keep moving.  A couple miles up the road I caught up with Jim and started riding with him, we talked and watched the sun disappear behind the horizon.  He was looking pretty good and said I looked strong, we were going to make it to the next checkpoint. I told him then that I wasn't sure if I was going back out once we reached Council Grove.  We bantered back and forth and he made it clear he was going all the way.  So was I, I had already been on the bike for 15+ hrs what was a couple more.  We soon linked up with another rider and picked up the pace to get where we were going. I don't know how fast we were going cause it was dark and I didn't want to turn on my headlamp, but it was the closest I had been to redlining all day.  We hit some low maintenance roads, rough patches and a bridge that was closed.  Soon the lights of Council Grove came into view and I knew I was going to make it.  We rolled into the checkpoint together and got the maps for our final leg.  Everyone looked very suprised to see me by myself and was very curious as to everyone elses whereabouts.  Crystal quickly came to get me ready for the final leg.  I knew I wasn't feeling very good at this point, but Crystal told me I looked strong still (  she later told me I looked terrible, but she was under strict instruction not to take it easy on me at any point during the race, my own weakness was enough, I needed a strong support crew).  Jim was rearing to go and wanted me to go with him. I instructed Crystal to take my camelback/ bag off my bike and just fill some bottles with water and a couple with Gatorade to put in my jersey.  We had came in at 9:45 and were preparing to roll out at 10:00. Luke and Adam rolled in as I was preparing to roll out, so even without Jim there would not have been anyway I could have quit, not with those guys there.  I told them I would see them at the finish and headed out.

Leg 4: Council Grove to Emporia 37 miles

    I had made it 3/4 of the way, 37 miles to my goal, surely I could do that right?  The fourth leg of the race picked up a rail-trail right outside of town and we picked up three or four more riders.  The pace seemed a little fast but it was definelty nice having everyone together with all of our lights to illuminate everything.  After 6 or 7 miles of rail-trail we hit the gravel again and everyone started to spread out a little. Jim had told me to holler at him if I felt like I needed to slow down, but I figured as long as other people were around I wasn't going to hold him back.  Someone in our group claimed to have a good knowlege of the course and claimed there were two big hills then a couple small ones and then the last 10+ miles would be flat. He wasn't entirely accurate as I am pretty sure there were three big hills, one of them seemed to take us about 10 minutes to walk up it.  Yes I said walk, I think I had walked up one or two hills earlier in the day just to stretch, but at this point I wanted to avoid cramping at all costs.  The only good thing about riding in the dark is that you can't see the hills coming up, but you can see the other riders lights seemingly floating up into the sky. 
Another thing about this leg of the race, with 30 miles left I could plainly see the glow in the sky of Emporia and periodically for the rest of the race as well. There were numerous times that it seemed like it should be just a little farther, and then we turned away from the lights.  The hills came and went, Jim soon was long gone and I was left in between a couple groups of riders. I continued to ride at my own pace, keeping a watchful eye for the course markers, not wanting to end up off course. I felt decent during this leg, but I didn't feel like eating anything so I just tried to get as much fluids down as I could.  I tried not to look at my computer to see how many miles I had left, but rather just keeping an eye on the time, and just kept my head down and kept pedaling.  I kept waiting to reach Americus cause I knew that would mean only 10-12 miles left, and hopefully flat at that.  Slowly and surely I found my way into Americus, I stopped at the major intersection to review my map and to have a Honey Stinger Gel to tide me over to the finish.  A group of 6 riders came up behind me shortly after I stopped. A couple of them looked kinda rough, I tried to reassure them telling them there were only about 11 miles left, but I am not sure they believed me. I downed my gel and a little water and headed out by myself.  I could see another rider in the distance and just tried to focus on keeping that tail light in sight.  I knew after town that the next big thing would be crossing over I-35, it seemed to take forever to get to the interstate.  I thought I was almost there several times, only to discover I had only gone a mile since last checking.  The interstate finally came into sight and I rode across the overpass knowing that I was near the finish. I wondered how everyone behind me was doing, were they all together, were they having any problems. Only time would tell.  Shortly after the overpass I came to an intersection and stopped to check the map, another came by and didn't even stop, but it seemed that he went the wrong way.  Soon three other riders were there with me and they wanted to go the other way too, until I looked down at the ground and saw the orange paint on the ground.  There were about 4 miles to go and I felt sick, real sick. I wondered, Am I going to puke after 198 miles? Surely not, I made it this far, no getting sick now. I downed some Gatorade and headed towards town. The last few miles slowly ticked by and soon we were riding through the university and turning onto Commercial street towards the finish line.  Once our headlights came into view the crow began to ring their bells and cheer. It felt so good, I had done it. I rode across the finish line at 1:18 a.m. 19 hrs 18mins, 202 miles. There were lots of people ( maybe a hundred or so) still there cheering us on.  Crystal met me right across the line, I got my finisher glass and quickly handed it off, afraid that I would drop it, and headed up the street where everyone was waiting.  The Virtus support crew was there along with Robby who had finished a couple hours earlier.  I felt so many emotions run thorugh my body, I hurt all over, I was stiff, I was happy and I felt like I could cry. Jim and Wendy Davis were on the sidewalk and were quick to congratulate me, as was everyone else.  I found a chair and settled in to wait for everyone else.  Kate and Emma showed up shortly after that, Kate had wrecked around 160 miles in injuring her knee and Emma picked her up and brought her on in.  We nervously watched the clock hoping that the rest of the guys would get in and beat the clock.  The crowd dispersed right around two o clock only leaving a few people and us plus the race staff.  Bob, Luke, and Adam rolled in about 2:15 a.m., fifteen minutes before the 2:30 cutoff, I was really stiff and tired, but I was so glad to be there to see those guys finish.  We watched the minutes count down, there was one rider we knew for sure still out, Derrick, and at 2:27 a.m. he crossed the finish line.

     Congratulations to everyone that finished the race but also everyone that even started the race. This race is a huge undertaking and it takes a lot to even consider doing it.  Special thanks to Crystal, Chris, Casey, Austin, Becca, and Michelle for the awesome support, and anyone else I forgot.  Huge thanks to Jim Davis for keeping me going.  Thanks to all of Team Virtus, I may not be an official team member, but you guys always make me feel like I am.  

   Soon to come will be a post about equipment and nutrition. I will tell you all about what I think I did right and how I could have improved.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What a journey!

Warning: This is an extremely long post!

When I signed up for the DK 200 I don't really think I knew what I was in store for. Yes, I knew that I was signing up for 200 miles in the Flint Hills of Kansas, but I had no idea about the journey I was embarking upon. I will leave out most of the details leading up to the race other than..... I was able to purchase an awesome Salsa Casserroll bike and transform it into my very own gravel grinder bike. My long time friend Sheldon almost immediately signed on as my support crew. And I received lots of tidbits of information and tips, not to mention all the messages checking up on my training and giving me encouragement from Wendy Davis. Time quickly passed and before I knew it June arrived and it was time to head to Kansas.

Those are the only trees in Kansas, Seriously!

Crystal, Ethan, and myself hit the road and picked Sheldon up at his house on the way. I had already planned the route ahead of time so there was not much to worry about. Not a lot to see on the way out there. We did travel through Ft. Scott on the way, kind of an interesting looking town. We made a pit stop here and there and eventually landed at McDonalds for lunch. Not necessarily my choice, but majority rules. Ethan enjoyed a hamburger and some apples which greatly improved his mood, not sure if it was the food or just getting out of the carseat. One other tidbit of information about our stop, even though I said I would not blog about it just to avoid personal embarassment. While backing up to turn around, since the parking lot did not go all the way around the McDonalds, I backed into something ( turned out to be a small metal box) that was next to the trash can, that apparently I did not see ( courtesy of the bike and bike rack, which apprently does block you view slightly). When we got out to go in I immediately noticed that it had made a slice in the plastic part of the bumper of the car, Crystal did not notice it, that is until Sheldon had to go over and poke his finger in it and say " Hey, was this here before?". Thanks alot Sheldon. Anyways Crystal took it very well and it didn't ruin the trip. We arrived in Emporia about 4 p.m. and found our hotel. I had secured us a room early on at the EconoLodge using my corporate discount from work. Not the nicest of accomodations, but other than the musky smell in the stairs it served its purpose well. We unloaded our stuff and my bike and then headed downtown to find the Granada Theater which served as the Check-In, Pre-race meeting, and Start/Finish Line for the race.

I got checked in, received my t-shirt, water bottle, map for the first leg, and some complimetary chamois butter and we headed off to explore town a little bit. We found our way to Wal-Mart and picked up a couple last minute items and stuff to keep Ethan happy the following day. Next we headed over to Applebee's for some dinner, since I had opted not to purchase tickets to the Pasta Palooza event being held downtown. Crystal and I both ordered some pasta with the intention of sharing with each other, but it ended up that the cajun shrimp pasta was a little to spicy for her, so she got my chicken alfredo. Ironic that the person who was going to be nowhere near a bathroom for pretty much the whole next day was the one who ended up eating the " spicy" stuff. But it worked out just fine. After dinner we dropped Crystal and Ethan at the hotel since he was getting tired and headed downtown for the pre-race meeting. It was filled with the normal rules and then Thank You's and some great schwag was tossed out into the crowd, and just like always I won absolutely nothing. After the meeting I was able to find a few people to talk to ..... Bob Jenkins, Luke Lamb, Robby Brown, Jim and Wendy Davis, and a few others. I had been kinda anxious about riding and getting stuck by myself, but Bob was planning on riding about the same pace I had planned for so we agreed to ride together for a while. Sheldon and I headed back to the hotel, I made a few more preparations and laid out my stuff for the race and hit the hay. I think we were in bed around 10:30 and set for a 4:00 a.m. wake up. I didn't sleep real well because the air conditioner did not seem to be working properly, I had it set on 62 degrees and still seemed to be smothering. Morning came early, but I got up and got around.

We all headed downtown for the start of the race and I got everything filled up and loaded up. Racers began to filter in and the street filled up pretty quickly. I spent a little time with Sheldon, Crystal, and Ethan and then found Bob and the other members of Team Redwheel and lined up with them.

The race started with a police escort out of town, so esentially it was a neutral start. Bob and I took off at the pace that kept us right behind those in front of us and then found Jim Davis and we pedaled through town together. It was at this point that I realized that we would have to watch our speed and not get caught up with other people and go out to fast. At one point before we hit the gravel we were cruising at 20 + mph, once we hit the gravel we settled into our own pace and let the riders pass us by. It seemed kind of discouraging at times, but we knew we needed to ride our own race. Jim took off and we didn't see him again until checkpoint # 1. We rode with several different people in the first several miles. All the riders were very polite even when passing us by. We rode with a few of the Redwheel guys for a couple miles before the went on at their pace. I settled into a pace about 13 mph and Bob stayed right behind me, if I seemed to get a little ways ahead then I would slow down and he wold catch up or vice versa and we took turns riding in front absorbing the wind I guess you could say. The miles clicked off pretty quickly and before we knew it we were twenty miles in and then thirty. We were rolling through beautiful scenery and the weather was great. We had to stop a several ( or maybe only like twice) times for Bob so he could go pee, I think he must have a really small bladder, or he might be pregnant. We reminded each other to eat and drink and things were going really well. In fact somewhere around mile 40 or so I may have even said " I think we can do this Bob, we can just stick together and finish this thing" to which he said" Be careful now, this thing will suck you in and deceive you, before you know it you're lying in filthy cow stained water, begging for mercy" or something like that. We kept pedaling, passing some people and being passed by others. We came to a few hills that were probably definetly rideable, but still having a lot of miles left for the day we took our time and walked up them. No shame in saving energy for later. Somewhere around mile 50 I would guess. We turned into the wind on a dirt road, ( by dirt I mean dirt, not gravel) it went on for around 5 miles or so and this was when I got my first taste of how the day would go. I started to feel hotter than I thought I should and just drained of energy. I had been eating, but obviously not enough. We eventually turned out of the wind and we could see town and picked up the pace. I came into checkpoint #1 right behind Bob and felt pretty good, 58 miles down, 146 to go. My awesome support crew was anxiously awaiting my arrival and quickly shuffled me to a chair, handed me a sandwich and powerade and began to refill my bike. I sat down and ate and looked around at all the people that were there, it seemed like a lot more people were hanging out than what I thought there would be. I saw Jim and Wendy Davis, whom I assumed would have been long gone, out snapping wrists with their Superior Attitude, Superior state of mind. Crystal informed me that there had already been people that dropped out. Wow only a quarter of the way and calling it a day, even though deep down I kinda envied them, because it was really starting to get hot outside. Bob ate and drank and was ready to go pretty quickly, quicker than I wanted really, but I knew that we should not waste to much time sitting around. We headed back out for the next 44 miles. Bob was feeling good, better than me and I could tell it too. I felt like I was having a hard time keeping up and could tell he was slowing down a lot to let me catch up. About 8 miles out, around the 65 mile mark, I told him I needed a break. He stopped to wait with me, but I told him to go on, to keep up his pace and not let me slow him down. He was very reluctant to leave and tried to give me electrolytes and about a half dozen Honey Stinger Waffles, I took one and he wasn't happy about it but he went on, not before telling me " Dude I'll see you in a few minutes", thinking that I would catch back up. It was around this point that Wendy went flying by and I told him to chase her down and ride her back wheel for a while. Bob rode on and I sat down on the road, in the sun. I had planned that as soon as he was out of sight I would just call and get a ride and quit. There wasn't any shade nearby except for in the tall grass so I just sat in the gravel. Several people came by and every one of them asked if I was ok. I ate the honey stinger waffle and drank most of a bottle of Gatorade. I was still feeling poorly, but I just didn't want to quit. I called Crystal to tell her what was going on. She asked " How do you feel? Me: I feel like just sitting here in the road and crying. Crystal: Why? Me: I don't know. She said that she would come and get me if that is what I wanted or if I wanted to go a little farther then check back in to do that. I hung up with her and mounted back up thinking I would just ride a little and see how I felt. I went about a half mile and stopped to look at the map, to see where a good place to stop would be, so that I could be easily found. About that time Jim Davis rode by, camera in hand, I saw him in time to " wave" to him Team Seagal style and he rode on yelling something about Lets go or something. I jumped back on my bike thinking if I could catch him maybe I would be a little more motivated, well that didn't happen, he was flying and was soon out of sight. I was now by myself and in my own personal hell. It was hot and I felt terrible. A couple more miles down the road I came across Derrick of team Orange Lederhosen, he looked about like I felt, he was changing a flat tire. I slowed to ask if he needed any help, he said he was fine and getting ready to inflate his tire. I rode on, but about a couple hundred yards down the road I heard an explosion, sounded like his tire or tube had popped. I rode on knowing that I needed to keep moving. ( I later found out his tire wasn't all the way on and his tube popped). I just kept pedaling a few miles at a time and then resting. I would call Crystal and let her know I was ok and still going and then continue on. I came across a lot of people sitting along the side of road, some were just taking a break, others were waiting for a ride. I would pass them then a mile or two down the road they would pass me. Just back and forth, back and forth. I had eventually made it to 75 miles and found a Low Maintenance road, Travel at your own risk, or at least that is what the sign said at the beginning of the road. It was on this section that I got my one and only flat of the race. I had met up with a lady and was riding along with her and inadvertently rode through some big rocks which resulted in the flat. I changed it in what little shade I could find, thank goodness for the cO2 inflator I had purchased, because I never would have pumped that thing up. I kept trudging on, pedaling and taking breaks. I knew that if I could make it to checkpoint #2 I would be done, I really wanted to get my first century ride ever. I was watching my fluid intake, but I couldn't eat, nothing tasted good, every bite made me want to vomit. I managed to stomach a couple accel gels and honey stinger gels which gave me a little energy, but not enough. Still I pedaled on, the closer I got the more determined I became to finish this leg of the race. Around mile 90 or so I came across a guy who was pushing his bike along up a slight grade. I was ready for a break so I stopped to walk with him. He was cramping up, was nauseated and feeling terribly. He was about ready to throw in the towel. I tried to give a little encouragement telling him there was just about 12 miles left, we had already made it 90 miles what was 12 more. He wasn't buying it, I offrered to give him anything he needed, but he declined. We crested the hill and i rode on, I eventually saw him go by in a vehicle he got a ride. A couple miles later I grabbed my camelbak tube to get a drink and sucked air. At first I thought maybe it had just bled off, but no it had not. I was out of water. I remembered passing a water spigot by a corral a ways back, but I wan't sure how far so I did not turn back. How could I be out of water, I didn't even drink much over half in the first leg? Regardless I was and I had drank most of my powerade during my mental breakdown and what I had left was too hot to drink. I pedaled on wondering if I could make it without any hydration for the last ten miles, probably not. And then my prayers were answered a jeep pulled up, one of the jeeps from the jeep club that was running support for the race, the only people other than racers that we could accept assistance from, and he had water. I quickly filled a bottle and my camelbak and started to drink, I nearly made myself sick I drank so fast, but it was cold and tasted so good. This saved my race, I don't think I could have made it without this water. The miles ticked by and I saw more people waiting for rides and more support crews came by searching for their riders. The town eventually came into view and I knews that I was going to make it. I rolled into checkpoint # 2 around 4:45 ish 15 or so minutes past the cutoff of 4:30 p.m. I had missed the cutoff, I was out of the race, which was good, cause I couldn't have went any farther I don't think. Bob and Jim were there along with a couple of the Team Redwheel guys, they were all calling it a day. Wendy had went on, she had convinced Corey Case to go with her and they were on their way to # 3. We didn't get to sit around very long because the sky was clouding up and it started to rain. Now I was really glad I wasn't still out there. The heat had been enough of a blow, let alone to get rained on. We made a stop at a gas station for some post race beverages and we were all headed to #3 to wait for the other riders to arrive. A few miles down the road everyone stopped and pulled over. Wendy and Corey had gotten into some horrible soul sucking, unrideable mud and needed a ride and another team redwheel guy had endured high winds and hail and was calling it a day. We doubled back and found Wendy and Corey and headed on to #3. We arrived in Council Grove and found the grocery store, Stoney and Matt of Team Redwheel were already there and heading out to finish so this only left Luke out on the course. Robby had ridden the first 102 miles and Luke was to ride the second half, relay style. We hung out and listened to the horror stories from the riders coming in about how bad the "B" roads were. We waited for quite some time and were starting to become concerned about Luke when he came riding in, he was in good spirits despite the conditions. A big majority of the riders had abandoned the course and took other roads to come into town, actually riding more miles to avoid the mud. Initially it was thought that this was acceptable, but ultimately ended in those riders being DQ'ed. I am not sure that everyone was being truthful, but that is their own personal issue to deal with. Luke was up front and admitted to taking the highway and accepted his DQ, like a man. Luke had arrived just in time to enjoy some pizza that we had ordered and just got back with and then we loaded up to head back to Emporia. On the way back we received word that both of the Team Redwheel guys had already finished. Great job to those guys, over 300 started only around 65 finished. I don't know for sure but I hope the guy who I loaned my light to was able to finish as well. It wasn't an expensive light, but I hope it worked for him. After dropping off Lukes' bike and Robby at the hotel we headed back to our room and called it a night.

I ended the day with right at 103 miles, what an experience. I will be going back next year, you should come along. It is almost a year away. Plenty of time to train. Also a huge thanks most of all to my wife Crystal for putting up with me training and being out riding and going along for support. Thanks to Sheldon for coming along and chauffering Crystal and Ethan. Thanks to Wendy Davis for the encouragement and training tips. Also a huge thanks to the Redwheel support crew and Luke Lamb for keeping Crystal company while she waited on me all day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ozark Greenways Adventure Race

A few weeks ago several of us traveled down to Noel, Mo for the OGAR. If you don't know where Noel is, lets just say that I heard a lot of banjos as we got near there. The teams were as follows.... Holly and Danessa, both of whom raced with us last year, Steve, and Myself would be racing 4 person coed while Chris and Dr. James ( I later found out he preferred to be called by his first name, Weldon, and not anything that had to do with Doc, Dr, or so forth) would team up for a 2 person team. Everyone had raced before except Weldon, this would be his first and to say that he was excited would be a major understatement. In a visit to his house the week before the race he had ran around like a kid at christmas showing us all of his new clothes and camelbak, He also purchased a brand new Gary Fisher Cobia 29er for this race. I did take the opportunity to "test ride" it while I had it at the base, and I must say it would not take much to convince me to ride a 29er. And by not much I mean getting one of my own by any means necessary. =)
Race check in was on Friday evening with the race on Saturday. Steve and Weldon were not going to be down until late, so Chris and I arranged to take all the bikes with us so that we could do the bike drop before it got dark. Chris took three and I took the other three on my new trunk rack that I had recently purchased for the upcoming DK200. It is made to hold three bikes, but there is not any extra room, that is for sure.
Crystal, Ethan, and I headed down early Friday morning, her brother David just so happens to live in Noel and he wanted to hang out for a while and eat lunch. In true fashion, just like the past two years, the day before the race was filled with rain and bad weather. We found his house and visited for a while then he took us to his favorite place to eat, which turned out to be a gas station cafe. Crystal was not overly impressed, but I thoroughly enjoyed my double cheeseburger and fries. David soon headed off to work and we drove around exploring while waiting for Chris and the girls to arrive. Once they made it we headed off to the bike drop, and staged our gear for the next day. We then headed off to check in, where we received our race numbers, t-shirts and even had time to eat a little pasta. We had planned on camping and sleeping in our tent, but between the torrential rains and the fact that Davids house was only about a ten minute drive from race headquarters Crystal decided that we should just stay at his house, he was more than happy and had already prepared his spare bedroom in anticipation. Everyone else ended up sleeping in their cars rather than setting up their tents, unfortunately there wasn't room for me to invite them to share in our accomodations.
I got an early start on Saturday and headed down to headquarters for the 530am map pickup, Crystal elected to stay asleep and get a ride down to the car later. The maps were handed out, a few last minute course changes due to high water, and we boarded the buses to head to the start of the race. We were bussed to a gravel road intersection about 4 miles from where we had dropped our bikes the night before, which would also serve as the TA from the orienterring leg. The race started with a road run just over 4 miles, mostly gravel, then ending on pavement. The faster teams took off like a shot, the slower teams took off walking, and we were in the middle. Chris and Weldon were out in front followed by the rest of us.( Important note: We were two different teams, but decided prior to the race to just stay together due to lack of navigational experience of some team members) I did have to take a few breaks and walk a little, but was overall satistfied with my performance, especially since I ran absolutely none in preparation for this race. I had actually debated even doing this race, just to prevent injury to my ankle, due to the fact that DK200 was only two weeks later. We made it to the TA for the start of the orienteering leg and eventually corralled everyone onto the trail. This leg was made up of 5 checkpoints, they could be done in any order. On the map they all appeared to be pretty close to the trail, which later proved to be not exactly so true. We hit the first two pretty easily, probably mostly due to the beat down path where everyone else had went, and headed on to the next one. I knew it was going to be a little bit more difficult, but figured with the stampede trail to the others it would be the same. Wrong! We ran, then walked, then ran and pretty soon we thought we should be in the right spot, but we couldn't see where anyone else had been. Needless to say we wasted well over an hour looking around before we finally went back and found a reference on the map and led us right to it. ( Should have done that from the beginning, or just took a slow and steady approach following the map closer from the beginning) Next we could take the trail up and around, which was what the girls wanted to do, or a short bushwack to the next point. I insisted on the bushwack, and even though they were apprehensive that we could find it that way, we went off trail. It was thick, dense, tick infested brush, but we came right out on the trail only about fifty feet away from the checkpoint. Score one for my navigational skills. That was our last one and we made our way back to the TA.
Next up was the biking leg, the part I was most excited about, since I had been training and riding a lot. We quickly realized just how much time we had lost once we got back to our bikes, I think we were the next to last team out of that TA, but we were having fun, and that was most important. We hit the road, then across a field to the creek where we had the privilege of wading through waist deep swift water while carrying our bikes. This was followed by a muddy hike/ bike push fest across some private property to intersect with a trail system which started with another bike push up a hill from HELL! It may not have been too bad early on, but after a hundred or more people come through and rut it up and get it all worked up, it was pure cardio intensity. The rest of the "technical bike" was mostly uneventful, a few sweet downhills followed by a lot of pushing on trails that were not really trails, and one more navigational blunder which cost us another 30-45 minutes by going up a wrong hill.
We eventually made it back to transition to the " road bike" section. While some of us were filling up on water I overheard one of the volunteers saying that the winners had finished about three to four hours ago. What a slap to the face, we still had 8 miles of highway and then 8 miles of paddling to go. Once on the highway I really started to feel good, finally something that we could actually pedal and ride for a while. I actually had to make myself slow down and wait so as to not get to far ahead of everyone. I think we covered this part in around 40 minutes or so, and found our way to the river.
We had made up a little ground while on the bikes because there were still about a half dozen canoes left when we arrived. We paddled on the elk river, it was pretty wide and calm with a little bit of current. A little bit of scenery, but not the prettiest I have seen for sure. The wind was really starting to blow as we progressed down the river, sometimes it would almost stop the canoe in between strokes, or it seemed like it anyway. We kept a good pace and covered this leg in about 1hr 40 minutes I think. Not to bad considering that for about the last mile I was so nauseated that I thought I might puke or just fall overboard. I guess I forgot to drink anything once we got into the canoes, I had taken my camelbak off and sat it behind me, out of sight , out of mind I guess.
We made it into the finish line in about 10 1/2 hrs. I don't know where we ended up placing and I don't really care. There was still food and beer left and it was still daylight. We had a great day, no one got hurt, everyone was still smiling, Weldon had a positive first race experience, and we all made it home safely. Luckily, because the next night was when the tornado struck Joplin, which it just so happens is less than twenty miles from where we were.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To go fast or not to go fast?

MFXC 2011

This past Sunday I got the opportunity to ride in the MFXC 2011 Non-Race hosted by Team Seagal. First let me say thanks to everyone that contributed to putting that thing together. The t-shirt is awesome, the location was fantastic and I really did have a blast.
I left the house around six am on Sunday and headed down. It took me around 3 hrs to get there, but I did get to see some great scenery along the way. The weather looked like it was going to be fantastic despite the forecast. I arrived at the DD/32 parking lot and found several cars already there. I had never been there, but didn't have any trouble finding it.
I haven't been riding alot of singletrack this year. Well I guess in comparison to probably everyone there, I haven't ridden a lot of singletrack ever. I still was feeling pretty good about the day. I rode at Sac River a couple of weeks ago and felt like I was making pretty good pace. Funny thing about riding by yourself and going pretty fast, or what you think is fast. You are never as fast as you think once you start riding with everyone else, or at least that is what happened to me. The start of the race was staged with the winners of last years event going first, then the first ten to register, and then everyone else. I knew from my only other mtn bike event ( Berryman Epic) last year to just try to stay out of peoples way and let them go first. I just held towards the back of the pack so that everyone that wanted could get around and go fast. I was riding at what I thought was a good pace, but soon everyone was completely out of sight. I am not sure why I was going so slow...... perhaps I just don't have the guts that everyone does, or maybe it is just lack of experience. I am guessing the latter of the two, I always just feel like things are pretty sketchy. Maybe it is my bike, who knows.
A couple miles down the trail I noticed that I wasn't feelling that great, I didn't feel like I was going out that hard, so I wasn't sure what was happening. I stopped to rest for a minute and realized that I still had a long sleeve shirt on and that I was really warm. I stuffed my shirt in my pack and headed on and started feeling pretty good, and really enjoyed the ride for a while. The course soon hit some roads and a monster gravel hill that seemed to go forever, it did have a killer descent though. And by killer I mean " killer", as in if you start screaming down and lose it, you are going to be hurting. Eventually the course found its way back to single track. Shorty before I hit the trail I noticed that I was starting to have an uncomfortable pain in my left knee. I stopped and stretched it out a little, checked my seat and it seemed like maybe it had slid down a little, so I raised it just a little. Once I had started riding again the pain subsided for a little while. Back on the trail though it quickly returned and was making the ride not so enjoyable. I just kept pedaling away, enjoying my solo ride, since everyone else was long gone. I eventually made it to a water stop and found Jim Davis manning it. I told him about my knee pain and that I just wasn't enjoying riding with it. He said that something was probably just out of line with my cleat or something, but not to further aggravate it. He was going to be heading in soon and offered me a ride and I graciously accepted. About 30 minutes later while waiting for the course sweeper it began to rain, and I have to say I was a little bit glad to have a ride back that was dry. By the time we got back to the parking lot several people had already finished and more were coming in. It was raining pretty hard and I didn't really know any of the people that were there so I loaded up and headed home, knowing that I still had a long drive. I thought I could get home early and suprise Crystal, but she had made other plans and was gone to town.
I really enjoyed the trail that I did get to ride before calling it quits. I always enjoy riding single track, but it just doesn't seem like I am ever going to be fast enough to keep up with anyone. I have been thinking about doing some other mountain bike races later this year, and had even planned to return to the BT Epic. But after Sunday it almost seems like I either need to ride a lot more before that stuff or limit my off road biking to adventure races.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bonk Hard Chill

Yes, I know I am a little behind on blogging what has been going on. The chill was a race that nearly did not happen for me. I had planned on racing with Chris, he had even planned on the race. However when he was picking up days for flight shifts he forgot the date and scheduled a shift the day before the race. This took him out of the race. I still wanted to do the race but it seemed that no one else was interested in it, or already had plans. I dropped some hints here and there but did not get any takers. I had pretty given up hope and just started thinking about what race I could try to do next. Then on the Monday before the race while scanning Facebook I came across my opportunity. Kelly Sumner of Offroad Fixation posted that a member of his 4 person co-ed team had been injured and could not race. He was looking for someone to fill in. I thought to myself, hmmm this could be a good opportunity. Even though I had not really been training for the race, at least not on a serious level. I sent him a message and told him I would be more than happy to race with him. I honestly figured that he could probably find someone else, or at least someone that they already knew. Later that evening I received word that I was in. Oh great, what had I gotten myself into? I had never met any of the people I would be racing with. They were probably all in great shape and I was going to be dragging them down. I didn't have any of my stuff ready or organized or even close to being ready to race. I normally get a room at the Quail's Nest and when I called they were full. I was really excited to get to race, but there were so many things to get figured out.

The week before the race flew by, but I got all my gear gathered up and ready. I sent and received a few emails from the other team members, and they all seemed to be very nice. They assured me that my fitness level would not be an issue, as long as I was willing to have a good time and finish the race. I made contact with Bob and Luke of Team Virtus, who had decided kind of last minute to do the race, and the agreed to let me stay in their cabin with them. It was really amazing how things came together for me, even with it being last moment.

I left my house Friday afternoon with the truck loaded down, and headed to Lake of The Ozarks. I had arranged to meet my teammates at the church where check in and the pre-race would be held. My teammates were running a little behind so I had plenty of time to run and get a few necessities, ie. gatorade, bananas, snickers, and of course beer. While waiting for everyone back at the church I had the pleasure of visiting with Wendy Davis, whom has been absolutely wonderful in giving me a few pointers on training and sharing her personal thoughts about the DK200. She actually had brought along some "top secret" information on a training plan for me, ok maybe not top secret, but if you aren't in the loop you are probably not going to get it. Suzanne and Jacqueline, the females of the team, arrived and we got out intoductions out of the way. Kelly was still going to be a few minutes so we were all able to visit for a few minutes. Sometime during all of this Bob and Luke showed up. This was the first time I had ever met Luke. Even if it seemed like we already knew each other from the blogs and Facebook. I had met Bob once last year at the Berryman Adventure race, so we were old friends. This weekend was going to be full of new experiences for me and I have to say that I was pretty stoked. Kelly arrived and we got checked in, got our information about the bike drop, and about the pre-race meeting. Kelly and the ladies took off pretty quick to head to the bike drop, I had elected to follow Bob and Luke so that I could find out where the cabin was, if we had time. We headed down to the bike drop at Swinging Bridges Road, couple of interesting facts about this moment of the weekend. The bridges were one lane, actual swinging bridges, we had to stop and back up after making it almost across the second one because of oncoming traffic. Earlier in the week, prior to the race, Luke had announced that they had a suprise coming in the near future. Several guesses were made but no one expected what was to come. A reporter from The Pitch in Kansas City was going to following along with the guys during the race. He had also brought along a photographer, and they would be staying with us in the cabin. We all met just prior to heading to the bike drop. While dropping off the bikes Ben began to talk about how long it had been since he had ridden a bike, and it became apparent that this was going to be an adventure for him and Team Virtus. After the bike drop we headed back into town to find some grub before the meeting. We ended up at Applebee's , which is always a favorite of mine. We all sat down, ordered our drinks ( I think everyone except for me and Bob had water, we of course had a beer, for the carbs of course ), and Ben ( the reporter) pulled out his tape recorder. There were a couple of minutes following where everyone seemed to be a little uneasy, well not really but kinda unsure about being recorded. Ben assured us that he wanted everyone to just be normal, and Brooke ( photographer) assured us that she was not easily offended. Probably a good thing since she was going to stay in a cabin with four guys, in the woods. We all enjoyed a good dinner and headed down to the pre-race meeting. Jason went over his normal stuff, all the rules, start time, time to be on the buses, and handed out the maps. We received all of our maps and cluesheets to plot them. I had gotten some vague directions to the cabin and agreed to follow Kelly back to the condo where he and the ladies were staying so we could plot the maps. I have to say at this point in the night I was not really feeling that great about anything ( probably a combination of sleep deprivation from the 48 hr shift prior to, and maybe just missing Crystal and Ethan). We arrived at the condo, spread out our maps and prepared to plot. Kelly explained to me the way he wanted me to read the coordinates to him ( at first it seemed that he was being a little particular, but it actually worked out great). We knocked the plotting out pretty quickly, some of my anxiety was gone after seeing the course, which actually appeared a little bit short at the time, and I headed back to the cabin. I eventually found the cabin and found everyone to be having a great time. The cabin was a pretty neat little place that you have to walk down a trail to, no running water or electricity, showers nearby, it had a woodstove for heat, a little table and a quaint loft with beds upstairs. I made quick work of preparing my pack since it was mostly already done and got to hang out with the guys, and Brooke. I could probably write a lot about the cabin, but since this report is already getting long and I am not even to the actual race, I will just say a lot of fun was had.

Race morning came upon us pretty quickly after what seemed to be a short night. I headed out before Bob and Luke, I thought they were going to be right behind me. They apparently decided they would not have time to catch the buses and drove to the bike drop. I found my teammates, we boarded the buses and were off to the starting line. You will have to forgive me if you were there and I leave some of the details out about the race. The race started out with about 2.5 to 3 miles of running on the gravel roads. Everyone spread out pretty quickly as the faster teams sprinted away and others walked or jogged. I wasn't prepared to run very far so I was glad to see the pace that the rest of the team was setting. We hit the first checkpoint probably somewhere mid to back of the pack. Interesting thing that I saw during this part of the race.... we were running along and here came a young girl, probably about my age, who looked alot like a girl that I went to school with, and an older lady, probably her mom came by. The young girl whom was probably about 120 pound, was carrying both of their packs on her back! I later found out her original parter had backed out last minute and her mom who was home on leave from the military jumped in to do the race with her. How awesome is that? We got to the canoes and hit the river. We had been told to be prepared to get our feet wet. At first the river appeared to be flowing good, but we did eventually come to a place where we had to get out and drag the canoe. I can tell you right now, the water was freezing cold! The paddling leg went off without a hitch for us. One team was not so fortunate, they had turned their canoe over and it was lodged in a log jam. We offered to help in any way we could, but they assured us they were ok. I guess they got out ok, I never did hear. We arrived back at the TA/ bike drop and headed out for the first biking leg. Things were going pretty good, we were making steady progress and then it happened. I was pedaling up a slight incline and heard something snap and felt my pedals slip. I stopped, looked down and saw what had happened. My heart instantly sank, the hanger for my rear deraileur was snapped in two pieces. Basically this meant that I would no longer be able to shift gears on my rear sprocket. =( This could potentially make for a long day. I was prepared to make a single speed of my bike, but then Kelly came through in the pinch. Kelly was riding a Giant bike even though it was not the same model as mine. He just happened to have a hanger in his bike pouch, crisis averted, and we were back on the road in a matter of minutes. Another couple of miles down the road we had our second mechanical of the day. After riding across a creek Jacqueline got a flat, no big deal, it was changed out quickly and we continued on. Back at the TA we headed out for the short orienteering leg. It went very smoothly. Kelly was great at following the terrain and relating it to the map. We walked almost straight to the points. After gather the points there, we headed back out on the bikes for some more road riding. Somewhere during this part I started to feel sluggish and even like I was going to cramp up in my legs. The fact that it started to rain on us during this part did not help. We hit a couple more points along the way and eventually made it to the final orienteering leg. There were a lot more points here and each team was allowed to skip one point. I think everyone was starting to drag a little bit by this point, but we headed off anyway. Several points came with relative ease, but then they started to get farther apart and the forest got thicker and harder to stay on track. We came to the creek we were looking for and went this way and then that way, and to no avail. The checkpoint should have been there, or were we in the right place? By now we realized that we were not going to have enough time to get all the points and finish in time. Even though we never really verbalized what we were doing, everyone knew it. We were all exhausted and just wanted to get back to the finish line, back to beer and baked potatoes. We hiked back to the bikes, hit one final checkpoint on the way in, and rode back to the finish line. There were lots of people still there, cheering us in. Just before the finish line we rode past Bob, Luke, Ben, and Brooke, oddly enough they were walking, they should have been biking. For the story of what happened you will have to read about it on their blog. We all made it back, got to see the awards ceremony and enjoyed some good food and beer.

All in all, it was a great day. Thanks to Kelly, Suzanne, and Jacqueline for letting me race with them. I really enjoyed it and would be more than willing to race with them again anytime. Thanks to Bob and Luke of Team Virtus for letting me hang out and stay with them. You guys are great, maybe someday we will all get to race together. Thanks to Jason and Laura for putting on a great race and thanks to all the volunteers.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A new year and a new challenge

Well it is the middle of January 2011. The winter finally is here and I don't like it. A few things have happened in recent months. My dad passed away on the 18th of December, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor several years ago and underwent surgery in June to have it removed. It was a very long surgery, broken up into two days. He came out of it doing well and continued to do so for a while and then suffered a stroke and his health continued to decline. My aunt took care of him up until the end of November and it just became too much for her to do at home. He had to be placed in the nursing home, which he was actually ok with. He was only there for a couple weeks before his passing. I was there with him till the end and I have to say it was a privelege and a pain. This was very tough on me and I kinda just gloomed around in my own little world of misery. Finally by new years i was starting to feel a little better and got out and rode the trails at Sac River. This was definetly a pick up and really kicked in my motivation. Which was much needed since I had planned on racing the Chill in February. Shortly thereafter I found out that Chris had a scheduling conflict and would not be able to race. On the 6th of January I received a call from Crystal while I was working. She was hysterical screaming something about the dogs getting out of the yard and someone was shooting at them. Somehow our dogs got the gate open and took off on an adventure. Molly our beagle mix had been out several times ( she is a digger), Tank our beagle ( the follower) had also been out, Otis our chocolate lab however had never been out of the yard, at least not without me with him. Long story short, our a-hole neighbor shot our small beagle with a shotgun wounding him in the back leg. He had came home which is what alerted Crystal of what was going on. Molly came home shortly after, but Otis our lab ( the scaredy cat) must have taken off running. I spent most of the next day looking for him without any luck. The following day some good friends of mine found Otis about five miles from the house, he had been hit and killed on the highway. Otis was a big, clumsy, slobbery, pain in the rear end, but he was also my best friend.
With all of those things happening I guess I have lost my mind, because now this week I signed up for the Dirty Kanza 200. It is a 200 mile ultra endurance gravel road race in the Flint Hills of Kansas. You can call me crazy, stupid, idiot, or whatever else you want, everyone else pretty much already has. Perhaps I am, but Crystal believes in me and supports me in whatever I want to do. I won't be doing this alone, there will be some other people that I know there, and they are great people. Sheldon, my friend of 20 plus years, has been with me though the thick and thin and has signed on to run sag support for me, as long as he doesn't change his mind.
The training will begin asap, tomorrow to be exact. I don't really know exactly how to train for such an arduous task, but I will make the best of it. I have spent the last two days reading other blogs and reports all about the race. I have a few things to work out, well a lot, but mainly I am going to get a new bike, a cross bike. General concensus is that a cross bike is best for this type of race and other than trail riding will suit my riding style well. I have no sponsors, no team, or no commitment to any specific brand of bike so I am not sure what kind to get. There are many, many, kinds out there. As of now I am planning to go and look at what Giant has to offer, probably the TCX2, ( my mtb is a Giant and i like it so why not). Also planning to check out Specialized, have heard a lot of good things about the Tricross. I have checked them both out on the internet and read reviews. I have also read about some others so I will just have to wait and see. I will keep everyone updated as the search goes on and the training gets going. I would appreciate any comments, concerns, or encouragement through this journey.