Wednesday, July 27, 2011

High Cascades 100ish MTB race: A testament to pain and suffering

Attempting to find a reason for living 60 miles into the race
It is a well known fact on the west coast that Mike Ripley of Mudslinger events puts on the best mountain bike races. But sometimes I personally forget that his races tend to be the most brutal and punishing physical and mental races around. This last weekend I did my final mountain bike race of the season in Bend, Oregon at the High Cascades 100. The race began at 5:30 am at the Wanoga trail complex half up towards Mount Bachelor, and was a balmy 34 degrees. By the time it was all said and done it had gotten all the way up to 85+ Degrees.

The High Cascades 100 MTB Map, 106 miles with over 12,000 ft of climbing
Now I have done a few other endurance events in the past the Cascade Cream Puff 100 on a singlespeed, one 12 hour solo race, and two 24 hour solo races, plus three of Mike's Test of Endurance 50 mile races. I expected that this race would roll smoothly, considering all my previous suffering. But unfortunately that is not how these races work. Each one hurts just as much after enough hours. But that being said I would have to put my suffering at the High Cascades as my all time hardest experience on a bike.

Errors from a race ego made the suffering and race time even worse for myself. I overcooked myself 3 weeks before the race and was completely overtrained, leading me to have to take time off the bike. So I came into the race with 4-5 rides in three weeks. At this point I should have changed my goal time, as I was hoping to finish between 9 and 10 hours. Instead I went out hard from the start, like I was in perfect shape and rode the first 35 miles in 3 hours sitting in the top 30. I felt great at that point. But the euphoria quickly vanished in the next 10 miles or so.

Me jumping my bike and feeling like hot stuff with ONLY 80 + miles left to ride
The race went through three different loops with some overlap. The aide stations were awesome and well run with good food and water. Another lesson I learned is I hate Hammer Nutrition products. I was given a bottle of perpetuem 60 miles in, and it destroyed my stomach. I also had to full gel flasks of Huckleberry Hammer Gel. I dont plan on eating either of those products for atleast a year.

Photo from Thom Parsons from Cycling Dirt. Read his highly entertaining commentary on his blog. I especially like his helmet-less biker story.
The Aide Stations were so good, a cyclist aka fat kid dream foods
Leaving the Aide station at mile 87 was rough. The guys running the station did what they were supposed to and gave false hope that there was only 3 more miles of climbing left. In reality we had 19 miles left to ride and most of that was uphill. I rode really hard for the first three miles so that I could be done with the mythical end of the climbing. I turned myself inside out to reach the ridge line but this was far from the end of the climbing. At this point I had to have a few talks with bicycle. The two of us had a huge argument in the woods and almost broke up.
Climbing the mythical last 3 mile climb to finish
Quickly realizing that I was fading hard I was Ok, I am going to finish the race is 10 hours, then I readjusted, I will finish in 11 hours......Crap can I finish in under 12 hours? The answer was yes but not by much. I came in 11 hours and 47 minutes demoralized, beat, cramped head to toe but atleast I finished. My friends also raced Doug Turnbull, Jeff Standish and my brother Spencer Bushnell. Each having there own crazy adventures. Doug and my brother finished in 10:40 to 10:50 respectively. Jeff was around 12:30.

So mountain bike racing is over for the year. It is time to relax, ride for fun and drink a few Ninkasi beers. Stay tuned for some other cycling posts and the coming Cyclocross race season.