Friday, August 14, 2009

Metamore 4x50

Metamora 4x50
After some short fast racing it was time to get back to ultra-distance racing. Metamora is 12 miles outside of Peoria and is run by the Big Dogs group out of the Quad Cities. The route is 50 mile loops that are pretty flat, except for one short steep hill at mile four. This was the third time I have done this race but this time Bill Ford was not with me.

I had not done a fast century since the May 31st Balltown so I was not sure what kind of endurance I still had. The forecast was for heat and wind. I don't mind the wind but the heat usually gets me. 88 riders started the race entering either the 100 of 200 mile races. After the hill the group was down to about 30 as we wandered through the cornfield lined roads on our way back to the start area with an 22 mph average.

The goal for most 200 mile races is to stay with the lead group as long as you can. This is not a problem with a flat course. The challenge comes when you complete the first lap and have to stop for food and water or bathroom break. If you don't stop you risk the chance of bonking. If you stop too long you are by yourself for the last 150 miles. I was ready for a quick "splash and dash" and was in and out in less then 30 seconds to ride with the lead group of 8 starting the second lap. We worked well together and actually finished the second lap 2 minutes faster then the first in a time of 2:15. Riders included Paul Carpenter (RAW 2008 winner), Bryce Walsh (600K indoor track record holder), Jay Yost, Dave Haussler, one of Jays teammates, John Schlitter on a recumbent (2008 Solo RAAM finisher and only recumbent solo RAAM finisher) and one other recumbent. By the end of this lap the sun was out and the temperatures were rising. The wind was blowing 15-25 as well.

The end of the second lap pit stop was as quick as the first. During the third lap Paul, plus Jay's teammate stopped at the halfway sag stop for a break. Shortly after that Jay dropped off the pace with mechanical problems as Dave, Bryce, the two recumbents and I pushed on to the 150 mile mark in 6 hours and 58 minutes.

The third pit stop was a little longer, four minutes. I needed to fill my camel back, get some more salt tablets, and get some clean sunglasses. Bryce got a flat as we left the stop and the two recumbents had already left as Dave and I rolled out one last time. We caught John on his recumbent pretty quick but never saw the other recumbent. Dave and John stopped to cool off at the half way sag and I kept going with the goal of finishing in under 10 hours.

I was unable to catch the last recumbent but held on to be the first finisher in the standard frame class in a time of 9:40. Two minutes slower the my fastest time and five minute behind the recumbent. Not too bad considering the wind. Dave was second in 9:52.

My diet, hydration and sodium was right on for the day. During the ride I drank 140 ounces of water, 68 ounces of gatorade, 44 ounces of perpetuim, 29 S-caps with 400 mg of sodium each, 3 bottles of Ensure, 6 Clif shot bloks, 3 bottles of Sobee, 1 bottle of Cytomax and 2 chicken salad sandwiches. With the heat it is hard to eat solids so I had planned to use mainly a liquid diet. This seemed to be the right decision.

A change of pace

Late July and August left me looking for something different. I have not competed in a USCF Cat IV race in a couple of years. I did not have anything going on August 1st so I went to West Branch to compete in the State Road Race Championship.

I heard horror stories about last years death march in the heat with rolling hills but that only made it seem like more of a challenge. The goal was to see if I could hang with the young studs and maybe have a good finish. The race was 54 miles, which is long for USCF events but pretty short compared to what I normally do. I was not too worried about the distance. There was some nice rolling hills but I had trained most of the summer in the hills and RAGBRAI was pretty hilly so that did not worry me. One of my weaknesses has been constant changes in the pace from attacks. I can go steady for a long time but I struggle with quick jumps. I assumed going into the race that there would be a series of attacks as the race progressed. I just wanted to be able to hang on.

The morning of the race produced reasonable temperatures with moderate winds. I was carrying three water bottles, salt tablets and some Clif Shot Bloks so I would not need anybody to hand me up any supplies.

There were 40 riders that started as we rode into a stiff crosswind to start. The pace was moderate but nothing I couldn't handle. 5 miles into the race a rider attacked on the first nice climb and I was in position to go with him. We pushed teh pace a little until the group reeled us in. That was a nice warmup and I was feeling pretty good.

I hung out toward the front of the group most the time and was able to push a pretty good pace up a few hills to keep on the pressure. With 10 miles to go I got a twinge of a cramp. I was not taking enough sodium for the effort combinied with the heat. Fro the next 9 miles I sat towards the back and drank everything I had and pushed more salt. I finished the race without anymore cramps but was in very poor position for the late sprint and finished 11th. It seemed like my fitness for racing was as good as it ever was when I was racing regularly.

Night at the Oval:

Tuesday the 4th Greg Harper, Chad Bishop, Bob Hayes and I made the road trip to Cedar Rapids to race at Hawkeye Downs speedway. This is a great format that is run the first and third Tuesday each month during the summer. This was my second USCF race in four days. I was not looking for results just a good time, good workout, racing with the team and a check on my fitness.

We basically competed in three races. The first 11 lap race I rode at the front to make sure that no one got away without Harper's having a rider in the break. I was able to chase three different attacks down by pushing the pace at a fast steady pace. The second was a combination of a win-and-out and a miss-and-out. In this race the first rider across the line on the first lap won and got to sit out fo the rest of the race. Also the last person across the line was last and had to sit out the rest of the race. I was not able to get across the line first until the last lap. I was never last so I got to ride the most laps to finish in the middle. The third race was like the first only we rode the opposite directions. That race was non-eventful. We also did a one lap race in your hardest gear and a one lap race in your easiest gear. I felt really good the entire night and we had a great time. Over all Greg got third, Chad forth and ninth for me in the A group. Bob raced in the B group and got 8th. Next year we need to make the trip a few more times.

Where have I been??

The summer just flew by once RAW was completed. It seemed like there was no reason for riding/training anymore. I still had to ride RAGBRAI but it was a short year at only 442 miles. There is always the ride out which is a great time. This year Mike Doyle joined me once again and Bill Ford came back after missing a year. But even that ride was going to be short to Council Bluffs at around 300 miles. So I had to get my twisted mind thinking about the next challenge. A few things came to mind including a cross Iowa record attempt.

After some consideration I decided to hold off on any record attempts until next year. June would be a great time to try because of the longer days. The north to south (241 miles) and east to west (275) have never been attempted so just completing the ride, with an official in the follow vehicle, would guarantee a record. This is kind of cheesy but a record is a record. I also have kicked around the south-north-south. Since the south to north has a recorded that crossing could be pushed pretty hard in an attempt to break the record. Once up north I would take a short break and head south. The S-N-S has not been established either so I would establish two records with a chance to break the third. We will see what next year brings.

This still left me with not much motivation or big goals. I usually compete in the Ultra Midwest 24 hour race in Port Byron Illinois. Two years ago I wanted to do my first 400 mile ride and last year I wanted to get RAAM qualified (425) and made both those goals. I do not have a specific goal for this year and was worried that in the middle of the night I would just go home as I had nothing to prove.

Then I saw the flyer for the 24 hour mountain bike race in Boone Iowa and a new adventure started to take shape. This race is held Labor Day weekend, the same as the Ultra Midwest. I have not raced my mountain bike for about 3 years and have never done a race longer then 2 hours. This is definitely going to be a challenge. After committing to the race I talked to a previous winner and he told me the course was brutal. He says there is no flat spots and the entire race takes place in the woods so there is not much air moving. Needless to say this scared me to death.

Seven Oaks has an entire weekend of activities plus camping so we are going to make a family weekend out of it. The boys have even signed up for the 12 hour race. The race starts at noon on Saturday and finishes at noon on Sunday. They even have a free pasta party at midnight on Saturday.