I saw things transpiring very differently in my mind when I thought about this race beforehand. A furious start to the race, hot temps, loose conditions, and some seriously steep climbs took their toll everyone but I should have been more mentally prepared. Being “only” 50 miles and on my local trails, I took it for granted a little and suffered badly at the end as a result. No matter how many races you have done, there are always lessons to learn out there.
Maybe a little too comfortable before the start?
The "Start Loop" took about 11 minutes and I was already pinned
I went from 0 to 178 in a flash. That is how high my HR shot up on the opening climb on the “Start Loop” designed to spread out the field before the first section of singletrack. This might be ok for the WYDAHO XC race that used the same climb but not for a 50 miler with almost 8K of climbing. I will admit that I got caught up in the moment. As my friendly adversaries from Jackson & Teton Valley surged ahead, I tried to keep them in sight when I should have calmly let them go and stuck to my plan. I did do a good job of sticking to my hydration and fueling plan. However, my plan was flawed because 88F at 8,000+’, with a warm wind, dries you out in a hurry and my planned hydration was not nearly enough.
An hour into the race I knew that I had gone out too hard but I felt as if I could back it off a notch, recover a bit, and then finish strong. Near the end of my first 25 mile lap I washed out my front tire in an off-camber turn and went down hard on my left knee and head. The knee took the brunt of the fall and the crash forced me to walk for several hundred yards as I evaluated the injury. Luckily the knee pain faded and I was riding again in minutes but I had lost some of my mojo and definitely backed it off a notch on the following Mill Creek and Dry Creek descents.
The events of the day, in squiggles
Any visions I had of finishing strong came to a screeching halt on the last pavement climb when inner thigh cramping forced me off the bike and into a long-stride stretch. It had been a long time since my arch nemesis, the inner thigh cramp, had shown itself and I truly thought that my current fueling system had eliminated them. Cramps are such a mysterious thing; is it electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, duration + intensity of effort, or a special blend of all three? I was determined to finish and decided that I would walk my bike through Rick’s Basin if I had to but I was able to slowly ride Rick’s with the occasional shooting cramp. It was a humbling last hour as I had to “granny gear” sections that I normally climb in my middle ring while I nursed my cramps. I crossed the line in 5:31:00 with a little more respect for the Pierre’s course.
My man Hamilton is on fire on his new Siren rigid singlespeed. Hami followed up a strongman effort in Butte with a fast Pierre's 50
Gabe, aka Fiddee, went down hard only 7 minutes into the race but rallied back to ride another lap and a half before having to pull the plug. Hopefully my gangsta buddy is just bruised and not broken
Dave Saurman is a force to be reckoned with. Saurdude and I have a friendly rivalry and right now he is kicking my ass...but its not over.
A Great Event
Thanks to Andy Williams and Troy Barry for a putting on a great event. This race is going to grow! Grand Targhee in August is gorgeous, the course has great variety, and this year they nailed the start/finish line scene. Even though I know the course well I paid attention to the course markings and they were PRO. Racers walked away with tons of great raffle prizes and hot pasta, salad, and Grand Teton Beer was served in the awards tent. I think it is very likely that 160+ racers will line up next year for Pierre’s Hole.