2006/06/03 – 6 Hours of Dirt

Location

Bluff Creek Ranch

What Is It?

A six hour mountain bike race. You start as many 10-12 mile laps as you can in six hours. You are allowed to start your last lap up until 5:59:59 on the clock and finish it.

Team Name: HoustonFitAR/X-Pats

Team Mates

None

Category

Solo Male Sport

Placing

28th out of 45.

Experience

Today was definitely a learning experience. The race started at 8am which was good, as it was suppose to (and did) get hot. The temperature was into the mid 90s, which when riding a bike is pretty brutal. So the early start allowed us a couple of hours of easy going (if you can call racing at any point easy.)

The race started Le Mans style, which is where you put the bikes in one area, and you start in another and have to run to your bikes. I hate these starts as I’m so not a runner. But nothing I can do to change that. We start off and I ended up running a little too fast. Not because I was winded or anything when I got to the bikes, but because of the company I was with when I got there, too many people who were there for serious racing. Unlike myself who was there for the personal challenge.

So because of my fastish run, I was having to put up with people wanting to pass me, and right to start with there aren’t that many places. It’s fairly technical single track, with only a few places wide enough for passing, and boy did they. Of course I was also passing some people too that had gone out and ran too fast themselves.

After about ten to fifteen minutes things settle down and everyone (around me) is where they should be in the race, I think, and there is no more rushing passes. I find my rhythm and the fun starts. I really enjoyed this first lap after the initial rush. The only problem was, I did cut a couple tight turns too tight and I ended up body checking a couple of trees. But I stayed on the bike and kept most of my forward momentum. All was good.

My first lap took me around 1:15 to complete, and this include the run, my fastest lap at BCR ever!

I check in with the time keepers, telling them I’m coming in and going out again. Then I head off to my truck for a refill on the bottles and fuels. My game plan was to do my first two lap with a bottle of Perpetuem, then between the laps swap out my larger bottle with another one. This was all I was taking with me, no CamelBak yet. It was cool enough to not need the extra water, and I didn’t want to weigh myself down early. My plan worked well, except I didn’t drink enough the first lap, I still had about 10oz left in my 36oz bottle.

Lap number two I also enjoyed. I was in my groove, feeling good, and just enjoying the moment. I didn’t body check any more trees, and was just keeping it going. I passed a couple of people and that was a huge ego booster. Since when I last did a mountain bike race, I never passed anyone, they always passed me and were starting to lap me at the end of lap one. So I was really feeling good out there, but again, not drinking enough nor eating enough.

I come into the time keepers and let them know I’m checking in and checking out. And again, I have a super fast lap of 1:18, since this included my TA time after completing the first lap. I get into TA and realize that I maybe drank half of my second 36oz bottle. And not even a fourth of my Perpetuem bottle that I had for both lap one and two. I downed a can of Monster Kaos, for the kick and calories. I was completely under hydrated and under nourished and knew it. I take a big pull on the bottle and on my gel bottle that I had. I fill up my CamelBak with ice (there was about 56oz of water in there and it’s a 100oz bladder) and put that one, combine my two 36oz bottles and add ice to it. I swap out my Perpetuem bottle and away I go.

Lap three is where I stop having so much fun. The heat is finally starting to get serious and since I was under hydrated and under nourished I start to lose track of where I am on the trails. I couldn’t remember if I had been through certain areas or not. I take a couple pulls on the Perpetuem. and drink what I thought at the time was a lot of water. Towards the middle of the lap, people are finally starting to lap me. So I expend more energy keeping an eye backwards and moving out of the way of those who are racing. This really took a bit of a toll on me. But towards the end of the lap I did start to feel hungry, which I knew was a good sign. That meant I felt like eating and so I took a pull on my Perpetuem and some off the HEED bottle, and some of the water. Just to make sure I got plenty in me.

I get into the time keepers telling them that I’m checking in. But not checking out just yet. I wanted to see if I could eat and drink a bit more to make sure I would be okay through the next lap. So lap three took me 1:39 to complete. And off to TA for some eating and drinking.

I ate two of my small sandwiches, a large pull on my gel bottle, another pull on the Perpetuem bottle, and then drank a bunch of green tea that I had brought. Anything and everything I could get down to try to keep me going. A couple minutes later I feel pretty good and ready to head out. I swap out my CamelBak bladder with another one filled with 56oz of water and the rest ice. I notice that I didn’t drink enough water at all as I was down to 60oz in the bladder. But I head out.

I goto the time keepers and let them know I’m checking out and off I go! To my last lap and to the pain and suffering.

I start off feeling not too bad, but soon I start to forget where on the lap I am. I can’t remember where I’ve been or what is up ahead. A couple of times I would snap out of a daze only to realize “Crap! I’m riding my bike! What’s going on?” and I would snap back to the riding at hand. Again I was always in the process of looking behind for people coming up behind me who would want to pass me. So I was always moving off the side and letting them go. I was walking up most of the hills on the course, unable to keep the pedals going. But I would always make the technical stuff with out too much problem. This is when I realize truly that when riding technical stuff, I really do better when my brain is just turned off. I wasn’t over thinking anything (because I couldn’t even think at this point) and I would just go with which ever line my bike was pointing at, and not try to change it. Up and over the logs, and drops and step ups. No problems at all. I just couldn’t pedal up hills.

A few times I hoped that I would get in past the six hour mark just so I wouldn’t have an opportunity to start a fifth lap, I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish. I thought starting this fourth lap was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. This fourth lap, including the TA time at the beginning took me 1:54 to complete. Not too bad as I was in TA for about 10 minutes, but it felt a lot longer out there. There was much suffering and much pain.

I get into the time keepers area, happy as can be to be done. I stagger back to my truck and take my other CamelBak bladder, that I had with me for lap three, out of the cooler and put it around my neck. I then start pour cold water from the other bladder over my head. Just trying to cool down. I drink a large amount of green tea, and water. I look at my second Perpetuem bottle and it was less than a quarter used as well. I look at my CamelBak bladder and it was down to 55-60oz. I definitely did not eat nor drink enough all day and I’m barely able to do anything but sit and wait for the cold to do it’s magic and bring me back around to the point of knowing what’s going on.

Multimedia

I have no pictures. As soon as I get some or find some I will post about them here. My camera is out of commission and I was too busy racing anyways!

Final Thoughts

I definitely reaffirmed (the hard way) the importance of eating and drinking while racing. Especially in the heat, no matter how hot it is, you must always force yourself to eat, no matter how much you don’t want to. I heard that many people cramped up and had issues that are probably related to lack of electrolytes. I didn’t have these issues even though I didn’t eat and drink enough, I had put quite a bit extra in my various liquids. I knew it was going to be hot, and I know that I sweat a lot, so I figured I probably couldn’t put too much extra in.

Over all it was a fun experience and I will most likely be dumb enough to do it again, even though I know about the suffer, and the pain. But I also know that I need to force myself to eat and drink which can probably negate the pain and suffering. So all I have to say is… Bring It On!

Days Later… (2006/06/05)

When I got home after the race, I started to feel really ill. My insides were all up in arms from the torture I put my body through. This continued through Sunday as well. Towards Sunday evening I was starting to feel really good again and like I would be able to put out some effort using the legs again. So I will be giving the legs a test this week to see how they feel and how well I recovered from the race.

Today I feel great, a little tired, but then that’s always the case on a Monday morning right?

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