June 26, 2012

Indian Camp Creek MTB Race

So what if its 95 degrees and it hasn’t rained in so long that there is 4 inches of dust on the ground, how would you spend your day?  Let’s see, you could stay in the house and watch TV, hang out in an air conditioned movie theater, go to a nice cool mall, or even spend it in a restaurant eating pasta and drinking wine, but is that what you really want to do on a hot summer day. 

Well, if you are me or Chuck, you would want to spend the day with a few of your closest friends, even if they smell like a rotting dead animal, rub chamois cream on their private areas right in front of you, have no problem stopping in the middle of a conversation to blow a snot rocket, don’t think twice about sticking their dirt covered hand in your chip bag, sit their stinking body in your chair, or even beg for a bite of your sandwich. You know where I’m going with this, don’t you, yes Chuck and I spent our Saturday racing mountain bikes at one of the most awesome venues in the Missouri/Illinois area, Indian Camp Creek. What’s more fun than 12 hours on a mountain bike when its 95 degrees and the ground had turned to dust. I know… right… nothing.
So that is just what we did, we spent the day as a 2 person co-ed team racing around an 8 mile loop of single track trails at Indian Camp Creek. I’m not sure on the number of riders, but I bet there were well over a hundred, and that included our friends SuperKate, Daryl, Judy and JP, they all hung out with us at our base camp. There were tons of other friends there also, too many to list, but it was a really fantastic group. I have to say, mountain bikers and adventure races are some of the friendliest and most encouraging people I have ever met. It doesn’t matter if they are faster or slower than you, when they see you on the course they always give you encouragement to keep going and they make every event fun. Let me give you an example, one of the riders, stopped during the race to help someone change a tire, then got back on his bike and finished the race for the win. Now, I’m not putting down road bikers, but I will tell you, this would never happen in a road bike race.  You know how in Sunday school they always taught you, that to have more you have to give more. Is this an example of what we were taught, he stops and helps someone and he wins the race, maybe he was just super fast and a nice guy or maybe… I’m just saying.

If you’re not familiar with this race format here’s how it works, Chuck and I ride for 12 hours, covering an 8 mile loop of single track, trading off each lap.  Chuck took the first lap so he had to ride and extra mile or so at the start. 

We both estimated how long it would take us to ride a lap based on our previous training rides at ICC.  Chuck thought he would be in the low 50’s and I thought I would be closer to an hour. Well I guess Ironman training is getting us in better condition than we thought because we both rode all our laps faster than estimated. Chuck’s averaged 50 minutes, I averaged 52 minutes. Although, I was happy that my lap times were fairly close to Chuck’s I was unhappy that Chuck was getting a couple extra minutes rest more than I was. I know you are thinking, 2 minutes big deal, but in my mind I thought that the 2 minutes would give me the strength to blast out of transition rather than chug off like a steam engine. In reality it would not have made a difference, when you’re hot and tired your mind can make you believe just about anything though. 

As I got ready for my first lap, I grabbed my Trek Superfly, only to find out that something was wrong, the back wheel was locked up.  I ran the bike over to the mechanics tent, but it wasn’t a quick fix. Chuck was going to arrive for the hand off any minute and I wasn’t on a bike.  Lucky for me I had brought two bikes, it’s a long story why I had two bikes, but it's just a good thing I did.  I quickly grabbed my Trek Top Fuel and rode over to transition, as I was standing there, I realized my number was still on my Superfly, so I ran back to the mechanics tent and got the number. Just as I was tying the number on my Top Fuel, Chuck rolls in.

So Chuck finished the first lap and I took off, since the 12, 6, and 3 hour races all started together the trails were pretty congested for the first 3 hours of the race, then by the 6th hour the trails got pretty quiet since the 12 hour racers were pretty spread out. My first lap, I was riding with a bit of caution not knowing the route or what was in store for me.  I still finished the lap in 53 minutes, but I got passed by 8 guys. 

I like to think it was because they were 3 hour racers and could expend more energy because they were riding fewer miles than we were.  Really they were just faster than me.  The good thing was they all gave me time and space to move over before they sped around me. 

Chuck went out for his next lap and while he was gone I used the time to wash the dirt off my legs and my face, clean the mud off my water bottle, refill it, and eat something, oh and I made sure to take some enduralytes, I think the enduralytes kept me going all day without any leg cramps. I would also pull off my wet and slimy bike jersey and put on a dry t-shirt after each lap.  I know most people think, “what a waste of time”, but I felt so much better in a dry shirt and by the time I put the jersey back on for the next lap, it was dry.  I really hate sitting around with a wet shirt clinging to me.  I work hard enough to keep my fat rolls out of sight from others, I don’t need a wet shirt showing them off for everyone to see.  

I went over to the mechanics tent to check on my Superfly, he had fixed it, but he had to drain some brake fluid and move the pads, I have no idea how the pads seized up, I mean, I was riding it around before the race started and had no problems.  At least it was fixed.  I have to say thanks to the bike mechanic, I don’t know his name, but I’m grateful.

I think it is much more fun being on a team, because when you are on an off lap, you get to cheer all your friends on as they come around, and chat with them about the course and how they are feeling when they stop for water. I was there to cheer Daryl on during the 6 hour race and Kate all day long since she was riding 12 hour solo.  I even had a chance to talk to Judy and John after they finished the 3 hour race.  

As I was standing waiting for Chuck to finish the lap, Wendy Davis walked up, I asked if she was racing and she said no and patted me on the head saying “you aren’t either unless you get a helmet on”, haha. I was just standing there thinking wow, it feels cooler than earlier, well sure it did, I didn’t have that hot helmet on.  I quickly ran and got my helmet thinking what a dork, I’m glad she caught me before anyone else did. Thanks Wendy! I went out for my second lap, this time I was riding my Superfly, and really enjoying it, keeping the pace up and just having a great time. The first 4 miles of the course are smoking fast, between miles 4 and 6, there is a lot of uphill, not horrible uphills, but enough to make you work just a little harder. As the day went on those uphills seemed to grow longer and steeper though.  I would fly through the first 4 miles, then really work the next two and cruise the last two miles. That was my strategy for the day and it seemed to work well.  So I finished my second lap two minutes faster than my first.  I love my Superfly and it just rolls though everything, but I have to work harder to push it up the hills, so I decided since I would be getting slower from fatigue as the laps progressed, I would ride my Top Fuel for the rest of the day.  I don’t know if that was the right decision or not, but I was still a little worried about the brake problem popping up again, so the Top Fuel it was. And it kept Chuck confused, with me changing bikes and that’s always a plus for me. 

Daryl finished sometime just before six hours and hung out for a while and then headed home, John and Judy headed home too, so our base camp got a little quieter as the day went on. 

The 12 hour race was still in progress, lap 3, then lap 4 then lap 5, then lap 6. Now we originally said we wanted to finish 12 laps total, but after I finished lap 6, we still had plenty of time, so Chuck headed out for lap 7. While he was out we got the news that if he came in after the 11 hour mark, I did not have to go out again, but if he finished before the 11 hour mark, it was mandatory I go out. Lori, Chuck’s wife looked at the standings and it wouldn’t matter if I went again or not, we had 3rd place tied up and would not be able to make second and the 4th place team would not be able to catch us. Although I hate it when Chuck does more than I do, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to do another lap.

Now with this rule cropping up, Lori and I should have thought about stopping Kate before the finish line, but it didn’t pop into our heads until we saw her come around the corner, and then it was too late, she came through the finish line in just under the 11 hour mark and was told that she would have to go out for another lap.  She really didn’t want to go, but they said if she did she had 2nd place tied up because the second place girl stopped riding already, and even though she had more laps she was considered DNF because she stopped before the 11 hour mark. 

Kate was all banged up from an earlier crash and she was tired, hot and covered in dirt, but she went out again. 

Chuck came in at around 11 hours and 15 minutes, so instead of me going back out, we got on our bikes and took the road around then hopped on the trail in the opposite direction and rode it until we found Kate.  We noticed that she was all dirty, I mean dirtier then when she left and her elbow was giant and ugly, she had crashed in the dark.  We rode with her until she hit the big hill, then left her to finish and took the road back to wait for her at the finish line. 

The results were posted, when we arrived at the finish line and we wondered how they could be posted since Kate had not finished.  We noticed that she was 3rd, so we questioned the official. There were conflicting rules being voiced between the race director and race official and once it was cleared up, we found out that Kate did not have to go back out and there was no way even if she did do a last lap that she would move into second place.  Chuck, Lori and I felt so bad for her, at that point there wasn’t much we could do.  The race director went to look for her in his car and hoped to catch her at one of the road crossings to bring her in. Another rider, Karen, volunteered to ride the course backwards to find her and ride her in, but it was too late on both accounts she was already on the last section and showed up at the finish 10 minutes later.  She was tired and upset and on the verge of tears, but Super Kate is a tough girl and she held on through the weariness and frustration.  The race director was very apologetic and he did all he could to make it right, she came away with a cool 3rd place trophy and some really great schwag.  I think all is good and I bet if you asked her now, she is happy she stuck it out for that last lap, because she always pushes herself to take that last leap of faith and do what she didn’t think she could do. This is the short story on the Super Kate debacle, but you will have to read her blog to get all the details  

As for Chuck and I, it was a 3rd place finish, and even better, we both rode faster times on all our laps than we thought we could do. Chuck and I had a great time and so much fun, I know we will do this race again.

The Cyclery Race Team (aka: ROCK Racing) had a good day, and not just me and Chuck, some of our other teammates too, Daryl, Andy and Ross. Ross placed in the 12 hour race, but now I don’t remember what category it was in, I think he got 1st. Congrats to all!

As for Lori, well she is AWESOME! Not only did she spend her entire day with us crewing and taking photos, but while we were out riding with Kate, she broke down camp and loaded all our gear in the adventure jeep and the adventure van.  It would be hard to find a support crew better than her and we owe her big time!  Yes Chuck… I know she’s your wife, but you owe her too. 

Thanks to the Race Director, Volunteers, GORC and St Charles County Parks for putting on such a great event.

1 comment:

  1. Lori is the best!!

    You have NO idea how happy I was to see you guys. I definitely didn't feel very tough on that last leg. More like a person crawling across the desert desperate for an oasis. And yes, inretrospect I'm glad I had that last lap, but it was still pretty terrible. All my parting gifts made up for it, though. :)

    I'm so glad I got to hang out with you guys, and you did great. Races are definitely more fun with friends.