Wednesday, May 11, 2011

12 Hours of Mesa Verde Race Report

Quick Stats
Place: 11th Solo Male
Laps: 7
Laps on the singlespeed: 2
Miles: 114.8
Self Grade: A-
Favorite Race Moment: All 7 times through the Rib Cage!

Air time in the Rib Cage

Racing the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde never leaves me wondering whether I should mix it up and do something different the following May with my race schedule. This race is just too fun and comprises everything I look for in an event; fun people, the best lap-race course on the planet, and solid race organization. I love it.

Back in January when I signed up for this race, I circled it as an “A” race and I really wanted to go faster than I went in 2010. My goal changed in late March when I got sick for three weeks and missed out on a block of timely Mesa Verde training. In the four weeks leading up to Mesa Verde, I did a pile of aerobic-paced riding to try and rebuild my fitness foundation. I really wasn’t sure how my race was going to go other than I was going to do everything humanly possible to ride for 12 hours straight and have fun. I definitely wasn’t going into this race “peaking and rested”. I am stoked that the diesel engine came back to life and I was able to lay down a solid race.

16 Miles of pure greatness

Set Yourself Up For Success
Odds are good that at some point over the course of a 12 hour race something will go wrong. Wrap your brain around this fact and be ok with it. My pit layout was simple and efficient this year which is especially key when racing unsupported as I was. I could roll in, refill the Osprey bladder with Carbo Rocket and cold water, grab a handful of the snacks I craved, slug down a bit of cold water, lube the chain if needed, and be out of there within minutes. I also had tools and spares of key items laid out so I wouldn’t have to dig for them. NOTE: I estimate that at Mesa Verde a dedicated support person is worth 15-18 minutes to a solo racer over the course of 12 hours if the team executes the transitions perfectly.

The high on Saturday was 80F. 80F doesn’t sound that hot right? But 80F @ 6,200’ elevation with a hairdryer wind will suck the moisture right out of you. I drank 48-56oz of Kiwi Lime Carbo Rocket every lap (1:36:00 to 1:45:00) and I think this was a key ingredient to my solid race. Oh yeah, and a few Pringles too.

To singlespeed, or not
I had a blast pre-riding the course Friday on my Niner One9 singlespeed with a 32 x 20 gear. I am sure that there were plenty of manly-men pushing a 34 x 19 or something similar and ridiculously tall. However, this gear “seemed” like it would work for me if I chose to ride the singlespeed late I the race. Plus, LW said she used this gear at Mesa Verde two years ago, and she is really fast, so I went with it. My plan was to ride two laps in a row with gears and then ride two in a row on the singlespeed. After that I was simply going to ride whatever sounded more fun…and I chose gears. My singlespeed lap times were solid, and I had fun, but I am not sure that I am a singlespeed racer yet. Sure, I like riding my singlespeed for some variety. I am just not sure whether I like “racing” it as much as I do my geared bikes. I think I need to just pick one for a given race and stick to it.

Lower Back pain
After lap #2, lower back pain was starting to affect my attitude and my speed. Thoughts of my lower back issues at Old Pueblo crept into my brain briefly. I switched to the singlespeed (which I had planned to do before the race) and I noticed that the required standing while riding the singlespeed helps stretch out my lower back quite a bit. Later in the race I used this same technique on my AnthemX 29er with some success. I would shift to a harder gear and stand more than I normally would while climbing to take some pressure off of my back. This is not as efficient as spinning up a climb while seated but it helped my lower back and kept me racing. Honestly, I was hoping that my recent stretching and yoga would make a bigger difference than they did. There are no magic bullets.

The Finale
I was really hoping for a good battle to push me at the end…the mini “race within’ the race” that I often find myself in. My race standing put me in a weird no-man’s-land though because I hadn’t seen a solo male racer in two laps. So I raced myself. Technically, I was racing my last year’s finishing time of 6:49 PM and I emptied the tank on my last lap to beat it. I ended up finishing at 6:46 PM...nice!

Final Random Thoughts
- A new rule this year stated that you had to start your last lap before 6 PM. The old cutoff was 6:30 PM. The laps are long so I understand why they did it and I don’t blame them. This rule will make it even harder for me to achieve my goal of 8 laps…but of course I will try.
- Carbo Rocket and EFS Liquid Shot continue to work really well for me as my primary fuel & electrolyte replacement. No stomach issues!
- The new AnthemX 29er is the shizzle…more on this later.
- Getting pre and post race text messages containing inspirational quotes from “Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” is awesome.


Jeff Kerkove said...

Byers! Keep the wheels on the ground! Ha! Awesome ride!

Lynda Wallenfels said...

You are the master of race execution. Nice work!! Congrats on a Mesa Verde PR!!

Carney said...

Awesome ride!! Don't listen to Kerkove though - there are no bumps in the air - smooth sailing!!!

Carey Lowery said...

Glad you had a great race and a PR given the challenges you had to overcome earlier this year.

Eszter said...

You can't crash while you're in the air. :)

Nice work out there!