Monday, August 3, 2009

Laramie Enduro Race Report

The saying “It is not how you start, it is how you finish”, exemplified my 2009 Laramie Enduro.

I am not sure why my legs felt heavy and my head was filled with negative thoughts so early in the race this year because I know I prepared well and had a good week leading up to this race. In a race this long, almost everyone has a low moment or two but typically those moments come well into the race after the body is starting to break down. When I had no zip on the early hills and couldn’t hold the wheels in a few early pace lines I let it get me down and therefore the first 4 ½ hours of my 2009 Laramie Enduro were all about damage control. It is a damn good thing I am stubborn. Since I wasn’t blessed with a freaky VO2 max, at least I have that going for me. Ha!

About an hour into the race I was grinding along one of the gravel road sections, alone and into a headwind, and I heard a familiar voice behind me. It was JayP and T-Race on the Love Shack and they were on me in half a second. They started with the Sport group several minutes behind the Open race and had already caught me. As they came by I tried to jump on their wheel but I only managed to hold on for about three pedal strokes before getting spit out the back like I was dragging an anchor. They were absolutely flying and it was impressive to see.

When I rolled into Aid #2 I was not exactly snappy and positive but I was ahead of my previous best split to that point…barely. My brain was having a hard time with the fact that I was “pinned” but seemingly going in slow motion.

The section between Aid #2 and Aid #4 contains most of the infamous water crossings in the Enduro. I am not even sure you can call them water crossings. They are more like pits of stagnant black goo surrounded by wet grass and have a unique, not so pleasant, smell to them. This year’s wet spring & summer in Laramie meant that the bogs were knee-to-thigh deep and required hoisting the bike up above the waist to make it across. I learned the hard way a few years ago to never, ever, ever try to ride through one of these bogs. The black bogs are just one of the many unique features that give this race its unique character.

The approach to Aid #4 is a long, very gradual climb on double track and this year it was into the wind. I would have to say that this was my low point because I “felt” so slow and I didn’t know what my previous split was to this point in the race but I was convinced that I was behind my goal. In the past, I have felt great rolling into Aid #4 and enjoyed the big crowd that gathers there to cheer us on. Let me say again, the volunteers at the Laramie Enduro aid stations are incredible. I stopped at Aid #4 and handed two very dirty bottles off to get filled while I slugged down half a bottle of water & eight Endurolytes in an effort to prevent cramping.

When I left Aid #4 I didn’t consciously decide to “turn it around” but a combination of small victories helped me do just that. There are some steep climbs after Aid #4 and despite “feeling” slow I was catching up to a few folks. With every pass of a fellow racer my mental state improved and when I got to the singletrack I was riding pretty well. Cleaning the rock drops that I typically walk here gave me even more juice and I was gradually getting my mojo back.

The infamous Headquarters Climb comes after Aid #5 and can either be; A) a glorious way to finish your race or; B) a mental beat-down that you will have to live with until the next time. I consciously chose option A. I attacked that climb one rock ledge at a time and with each rider I passed I gained momentum. The evil part about the finish of this race is that you are not done once you crest the Headquarters Climb. There are still a few miles of rocks and roots to go before you get spit back out onto the road to the finish line. As I was pedaling as hard I could through the rock gardens near the end I remember telling myself “you can go just as fast on a hardtail, it just hurts a little more”.

In the personal victory category, the last hour of this year’s Enduro ranks up there at the top for me. My personal goal for this race was 6:29:59 and I finished in 6:25:00 despite not having my best legs.

This race will always be a personal favorite for its overall vibe, the great support, the great post-race scene, and the challenge. At the top of my race notes it will say, “don’t take this race for granted, it is no gimmee”.

Congrats to all of my teammates who had very solid races!


Sonya said...


JayP said...

sounds like ANOTHER gain this year, very nice Dave.

you looked good regardless of how you felt when we seen ya!

Rick LaBelle said...

Congrats, my brotha!