Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh man...I think I'm gonna Ralph! 8 hours of Hurkey Creek Report

I had been looking forward to this race all winter! We were supposed to race the 24 hour as a 4 man team, but each and every one of us had to work on Sunday! I was just as stoked to do the 8 hour race and started training pretty hard about 4 weeks ago. I started commuting to work through the valley on my fixed gear in order to get riding time in on days that work would not allow regular rides. I found a bike path that runs from Woodland Hills to Sherman Oaks and is pretty much as flat as a pancake.

Monday the 14th I woke up with a devastating cold! I had been training really hard and was worried that I had overdone it. I went to the doctor that day and he told me that the nasty cold was going around. He wanted to put me on antibiotics and I said NO! I did not want to risk the side effects of that on my body!

Rory, Jen, and I drove up on Friday. We arrived a little after two and it was HOT and DRY. We set up camp and rode around the venue a bit. I wanted to ride the course to loosen up the legs but Rory wasn't feeling it so we just hung out relaxed, told stories and laughed our heads of.

It heated up considerably as 12pm approached and the wind was gusting pretty hard. Soon it was time to line up for the Le Mans start and Rory and I found ourselves in a sea of racers. We had a huge field of 48 sole 8 hour riders! The biggest ever at this event! The gun sounded and we were off! Rory and I had agreed to briskly walk as we are not big runners and did not plan on being out in front on the first lap!

The first lap was slow and steady. You start with a an amazing technical two mile climb up through the edge of the canyon. It was slow with all the traffic, but that helped us keep a manageable pace. When you hit the first aid station at the top, the fiirst roller oaster section shoots you around the mountain into the back valley. Once in the valley it turns to double track which is the first and best opportunity to pass people. The only problem was that as soon as you turned into the valley, the wind was blowing 20-30 mph right into your face! This made it really hard to not exert too much energy early on! I think that we over did it a little on the first and second lap. The descents are AMAZING at Hurkey Creek! Like fast downhill roller coasters! We rolled through the finish line with a time of 1:07. Jen had our bottles and food ready for us and we were off on lap two.

Lap two was a little quicker up the opening climb and we again pushed it to pass some slower guys out in the windy valley. Things got a little crazy as we descended into middle of the course we were following some slower riders. Rory went for a crazy pass on an even crazier line and ALMOST pulled it off! Next thing you know Rory's body and bike were turning sideways and looking like death was imminent! But no! He was stopped by a very large bush! He was a little torqued but like a champion was right back onto his bike and behind me in just a moment! As we were finishing up this 2nd lap my stomach was really starting to bother me and that was making me not want to ingest any of the liquid that I had on me. That had the side effect of cramping! We came through lap two at 1:05! New bottles and a pep talk from Jen and we were off on the lap of disaster!

With every pedal stroke I felt as if I was going to hurl my insides out! Rory was starting to cramp pretty bad and we continued to ride ourselves deep into a pain cave. We took a break at the second aid station and drank lots of water. That seem to make me want to hurl even more! It did help with my cramping though. We rode through the finish line with a lap time of 1:34! Hideous! When we stopped at the pits, Rory started to self-destruct. His muscles went haywire and he passed the point of no return. I drank some more plain water and managed to get a banana down and spent over 10 minutes stretching. After a 15-20 minute break I took off for lap 4.

It wasn't an easy lap for sure but I put one pedal in front of the other and pushed out another lap. I was actually passing some slower riders which gave me the confidence to push a little harder. I really opened up on the downhills since that did not require pedaling! I managed to make up a lot of time on the descents. I rolled through the finish with a lap time of 1:47. My actual ride time was 1:15 minutes! I had spent 30 minutes trying to recover between laps and one stretching stop during the lap.

After some heavy praying during lap four, my stomach was no longer hurting and my legs seemed to regain some of there snap. I climbed steady and strong and managed to ride the whole lap. About halfway through I came upon another 8 hour racer and he looked back and saw my plate. He took off like a rabbit and I went on the chase! I pushed as I hard as I could and came within a bike link going into the final limb but blew up as soon as I started the ascent! Once at the top I flew down the whoop section and into the finish line. Rory and Jen were standing just under the finish holding a beer for me. I was undecided about one last lap. I had peeled off a lap of 1:09 and realized that I could probably get one more in.

As I looked at Rory, I asked him how he was doing and you could tell he was having trouble just standing there. I decided against the lap and opted for the beer instead! The crowd gathered at the finish line seemed happy with my decision as they roared with applause as I took a drink! Kind of funny.

When I was said and done, I was really happy with the way that I rode. The heat was definitely not helping in the cramping department. I also learned a valuable lesson in the nutrition department! I had mixed my drink very concentrated in order for each bottle to last longer....not a good idea!

I ended up in 14th place!!! That's out of 48 8 hour racers! I am super stoked with that result. Not a bad way to start my endurance season! Back to training!

Keep Climbing,