2012 Dirty Dozen 12 Hour* Endurance Race

February 11, 2012 5 comments

So for this post, I decided I’m going to type it up.  My last few posts have been videos, so I’ll just mix it up a little bit.  There were some really cool pictures taken, so I think mixing up a write-up with those pictures would look cool.  Last Saturday I competed in the Terra Firma Dirty Dozen 12 Hour Mountain Bike Race.  This race was rather interesting, and probably the most fun I have every had at any race.  So to give you a little bit of background information.  I decided to compete in this race shortly after the 24 Hours of Rocky Hill.  I raced in a grande team of 5 at Rocky Hill and decided that I was ready to compete in the 24 hour men’s solo division for 2012.  So, as a test of my ability, I decided that I was going to compete in the Dirty Dozen 12 hour sport solo category.  I have completed 6 hour races in the past (solo), and that has been the longest I’ve ever ridden on a mountain bike.  Racing in a 6 hour mountain bike race took a lot out of me in the past…..OK, damn near killed me, so I knew I had to do some serious conditioning if I wanted to double that time.

So for the last 3 months, I had been endurance training on the mountain bike.  I tapered off my time at the gym and put in more miles on my bikes (road and mountain).  I would ride more frequently during the week, and rode longer distances during the weekends.  My road rides consisted of 30, 40, and sometimes 50 miles and I also rode a couple of 4 hour training sessions on the mountain bike.  None of these were fast rides, but the purpose was to get my “saddle” acclimated to riding long distances and to train my body to suffer, and then (most importantly) recover.  I had a pretty set schedule on riding, gym time, and rest days.  I trained and built up my endurance and eventually started to taper off two weeks before the race.  I still pedaled on the spin bike to keep my legs moving, but I didn’t do any real hard training sessions.

On the way to Warda...and someone's following me. 🙂

The week of the race, we had some rainy weather.  Since this was going to be a rain or shine event, the reality set in that this race was going to be muddy.  So I then knowingly committed the racer’s ultimate sin:  I decided to change out my tires two days before the race.  **gasp!!!**  Yeah, I know…….changing your equipment in the 11th hour before a race is risky.  And I did have a little scare, but it worked out well in the end.  Now the reason I wanted to change my tires was because of the mud.  My regular tires are low knob that are packed tightly together.  Those types of tires are horrible in the mud and cake up really easily.  I did not want my tires caked with mud, which could have easily added a few extra pounds of mud to the bike.  I went to Dallas Bike Works and decided to get a tread pattern that was more spaced apart.  With some input from a couple of the guys at the shop, I went with the Kenda Karma tires.  Now they are not mud specific tires and they are low profile, but the knobs were spaced apart and would shed off mud pretty easily.  Now I have to give a big shout out to the guys at Dallas Bike Works.  I’m a member of their mountain bike race team and they go above and beyond in supporting the team.  As far as I’m concerned, DBW is the best bike shop in town.  They are local, treat customers well, and will do their best to get you going.  This wasn’t the first time they helped me out and I will forever be grateful for their support.   So after it was all said and done at the shop, I drove off to Warda, TX for the race.

All hands on deck. Much appreciated gentleman. Thank You!!

I expected the drive to be about 4 hours, but made it to Warda in 3 1/2 hours.  I got to Bluff Creek Ranch and checked in.  Two of my friends were already there and one of them picked out the best spot for our pit area.  It was near the check-in/check-out finish line, so it would be very easy for us to pit and then start the next lap (think NASCAR).  So throughout the day, everyone started to trickle in.  A lot of us from DORBA decided to pit together and give support to each other.  We had a total of 4 canopies and probably almost 10 racers in our pit area.  A lot of us were supporting each other, but the main crew chief was our good friend BobbyD.  Bobby did an incredible job of keeping our bikes clean during the race, making sure we were properly hydrated, and kept us fed.  He even grilled up some incredible pork ribs for us to have in between laps.  Damn, those were some good ribs too. 🙂

So after we got the pit set up, we all decided to go to diner.  We drove to LaGrange and picked out a little local steak house restaurant.  I have to tell you, this was probably one of the funnest nights and dinners I had in a long time.  BobbyD’s witty personality combined with our sassy waitress, it ended up being a very entertaining evening.  Stories were told, pictures taken, and laughter was abundant.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that because what happens in LaGrange stays in LaGrange.  🙂

The racing crew before the mud fest

After diner, I retired back at the hotel.  Being a little lame, I did some stuff for work.  I only worked a little for about 30 minutes, but I was supposed to be on a vacation……sort of……

The next morning I woke up at 5:00am.  The alarm went off and I was laying there after hitting the snooze button, I heard some stuff just outside the window.  After listening to it for a few seconds, it was the sound of rain drops hitting the trees and ground.  I got up, looked outside and sure enough it was drizzling a bit.  The race was to kick off at 9:00am sharp and it was a rain or shine event.  So I got up and started preparing my stuff for the race.  I went downstairs to have some breakfast with Ron, who was also staying at the same hotel.  After we ate, I went back up stairs to make final preparations, and left at around 7:15am to the ranch.  We had to be at a racer’s meeting at 8:00am, and needed to lay out my stuff in the pit area.  I thought to myself that I had plenty of time and really didn’t need to rush.  Then I noticed that I got a text message from Julie (who was camping at the ranch) that the start of the race was postponed from 9:00am to 12:00pm.  So when I got to the ranch, I was told that indeed the start was delayed to allow for a final storm to pass through, and that the race would be only 8 hours long, instead of 12 hours.  I was a little disappointed, but I trust the race directors in their judgement.

All of us hung out in the pit area for about 4 1/2 hours until we had our racers meeting at 11:00am.  After the racer’s meeting, I got dressed and my gear ready.  I had laid my bike down in the staging area as this was going to be a LeMan’s start.  So we were about 100 yards away from our bikes as we all stood there waiting for the whistle to go off.  Like literally 2 minutes before the whistle was going to blow, it started to rain.  It wasn’t a hard rain, but it wasn’t a slight drizzle either.  It was just enough for me to roll my eyes and say to myself, “This is going to be fun”.

Looks like I'm concentrating....or hurting...

The whistle went off and we all started to run to our bikes.  Now I’m not a runner, so I was just jogging to my bike.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t the last to get to my bike, but I was towards to the back of the pack.  As I was jogging I heard a voice from behind me saying, “Boy they really have you at a disadvantage don’t they?” (referring to my prosthetic leg).  I looked over and it was the famous Fred Schmidt.  Fred is well-known mountain bike racer in TX.  He is a national champion and one hell of a rider.  Also, he is 79 years old and quite the inspiration.  I looked back at him, smiled, and said, “That’s okay.  I’ll just make it up on the track”.  He smiled back and said, “Yes sir!!” and continued to gap me as we were running.  I hopped onto my bike and started riding towards the single track.  I rode and passed a coupld of people.  By the time we got to the single track, I had caught up to Fred and was riding right behind him.  There was a line of about 10 racers or so and we were riding in a pack for a while.  After a while, Fred started to gap me, while I was gapping the racers behind me.  Soon enough I was almost riding alone, but I could see and hear other racers in the distance.

The first lap wasn’t too bad.  The whole trail was muddy, but I was amazed that the mud wasn’t sticking to the tires much (good call switching out the tires I guess).  There were a lot of very soft and mushy corners and some slick short climbs.  Overall the course was flat.  The race promoters had decided to take out the more techincal sections of the course due to safety and flooding issues with the rain.  I rode my first lap at a casual pace because I knew that I had to last for 8 hours.  I had to stop a couple of times because the mud was starting to stick to my drive train components.  I stopped several times to clean them up.  My bike was making noises that I had never heard before, but just figured it was all the crap that was clogging up my drive train.

This wasn't the wrost of it.

As I was going, I noticed a constant buzzing…like if something was rubbing against my rear tire.  I stopped again to clean  up that area and figured out what was buzzing.  Some how, my rear wheel got misaligned and my tire was rubbing against my chainstay.  I thought I had bent my wheel, but the wheel looked true.  I readjusted the rear wheel several times and finally got it aligned.  It bothered me on how that happened, but the issue went away.  When I completed my first lap, I scanned in and then back out, and went for my second lap.

It was rather interesting, but not surprising, that the mud was causing some equipment issues.  But after a while, I guess my bike “got used to it” and the issues weren’t that big of an issue anymore….if that makes any sense.  In between laps, BobbyD was washing my bike, and some of my other friends were helping me out with food and hydration.

During my 7th lap, it had gotten dark already and I was riding with my light.  I had bought a Serfas True 1500 from DBW and was using it as my main light source.  The only thing brighter than this light is the sun.  By this time, the race course has been beat up pretty good.  The muddy sections became mud pits and certain obstacles were slicker than ever.  The lap before I had crashed twice (one of them was straight into a tree), and almost lost control numerous times.  During this lap I was sliding all over the place and spun out on most of the short climbs.  Because time was running out, the other racers started to ride a little bit more aggressively.  I had a few close calls and one racer almost ran me off the trail as he passed me.  Physically, I felt that I had enough juice for one or two more laps.  But since I was sliding all over the place, and had a few close calls, I decided that it wasn’t safe anymore and made it my final lap.

Starting to get dark

So when it was all said and done, I completed a total of 7 laps with a total time of 06:50:47.  I could have sworn that I rode 8 laps, but there’s a high probably that I’m mistaken. 🙂  The days after the race, I felt really good.  My body felt like if I had a really good full-body workout at the gym.  I was able to walk and function normally.  I guess my endurance training has paid off as my recovery time was very minimal.  This made me feel good because last season the 6 hour races took everything I had and it took me days to a week to recover from them.  Now I can race more than 6 hours and still have enough gas to go longer.

My bike on the other hand didn’t fare so well.  I had cleaned it up really good, but still was having some gritty noises.  I took it into the shop for a complete overhaul.  Got a new chain, bottom bracket, shifting cables replace, and everything else done in a complete overhaul.  So now it’s as good as new.  Even though the race got cut down to 8 hours due to weather, and the fact that it was muddy, I still had fun.  Now that I can say I have raced in the mud, I don’t think I’ll do it again.  It’s not the fact that I can’t (because I just did), it’s the fact that it gets expensive to replace bike parts.  🙂

So my next race is going to be the 6 Hour race at Boulder park next weekend.  It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden Boulder, so I’ll have to go pre-ride it tomorrow.  So a lot of you think I’m crazy, and maybe I am just little.  But these types of races will only make me stronger, and I will race the 24 Hours of Rocky Hill solo in October.  That is my main goal this year and I will race it solo.  I’m going to try and take some video of the Boudler race and maybe have someone else take pictures.  We’ll see.

Until next time.

Muddy feet.....uuhhh...foot....

Categories: Mountain Bike Races

Carbon Fiber Greatness…..Off The Bike

January 26, 2012 3 comments

I was chatting with a friend of mine last week and was talking about my prosthesis and the type of amputation I have.  Like many people, she had assumed that I was a below the knee amputee.  Well, technically my amputation is below the knee, but it is not a traditional below the knee amputation.  The type of amputation I have is called a Symes amputation.  After our converstion, I got the idea of making a video and explaining the difference and to explain how my prosthesis gets build.  Enjoy!!

Categories: General Bike Talk

Happy 2012! Let’s Get This Show On The Road

January 11, 2012 1 comment

When I started this blog a year ago, I really didn’t know what direction I wanted to go in.  I first used it as a motivator and training log for the 2011 Extremity Games.  That came and passed, and the updates became sparse and limited to major events and races I competed in.  I had some really cool videos that I received a lot of feedback on.  Those are pretty time-consuming, but because I have received so much positive feedback, I’ll continue to do those.  I don’t know if I’ll continue the multi-angle videos, as those are quite a challenge given the tools I have.  But I might do one on occasion.

Looking back at 2011, I think I had started off pretty strong.  I raced a couple of the TMBRA XC mountain bike races and most of the DORBA XC races and placed decently in them.  And by decent, I mean I did not come in last.  🙂  In some of my better performances, I placed on top of the bottom 25%.  That may not sound spectacular, but considering where I was a few years ago, I have started to show some performance gains.

Being an amputee, I have expressed some frustrations that I’ve gone through in my training.  But nonetheless, I’ve learned (and continue to learn) to adjust, adapt, and compensate for this.  I have lost a good amount of weight, but need to continue to lose more.  That’s a given and will continue on this endeavor.  With that being said, I’ve decided to set some new goals.  My motto has alway been to achieve what I thought was impossible.  As I did with 2011, I still plan on competing in many races on the mountain bike.  But my big “A-Race” will be the 24 Hours of Rocky Hill, solo.  If you remember, I competed in the 2011 24 Hours of Rocky Hill in a team of 5.  While competing at that event, many of my DORBA friends were competing in the solo category.  That inspired me, and I now want to compete in the event in the solo category.  The race will be on October 20 & 21, 2012 so I have plenty of time to prepare for it.

But until then, I have a few good races this year that I plan on competing in.  I’ll be competing in a couple of the TMBRA Texas State XC Mountain Bike series, as well as the DORBA winter endurance series.  I did recently get a new (to me) cyclocross bike, so I plan on doing some of the endurance gravel events put on by Spinistry.  But my most immediate event coming up is the Dirty Dozen 12 Hour Mountain Bike race.  I have entered the 12 hour male solo sport category.  So this should provide me with some great feedback on how I can handle a 24 hour race.  I’ve got a pit crew started to help me through out the race, and the awesome guys at Dallas Bike Works have helped me out with some bike and fit adjustments to get me ready for this race.

I’m looking forward to this year and I can only see better things coming ahead.  Hell, maybe by the end of this year, I’ll be in enough shape to upgrade to Category 2 XC racing…..and that’s where the real fun begins.

Until next time.

Categories: General Bike Talk

2011 DORBA XC Fall Series — Rowlett Creek Preserve

January 2, 2012 6 comments

So this race happened back in mid November, but I have now just gotten around to making the video.  I went out rinding at Rowlett Creek Preserve (RCP) with a few buddies yesterday.  As we were riding, we were talking and I mentioned that I hadn’t ridden RCP since the last DORBA race.  Then it hit me that I still had an unfinished project.  Well, it’s finally done.  A little late, but better late than never. 🙂  And in keeping the usual tradition, I have created 3 videos.  One with the raw natural sounds, one with commentary, and one with music.  Regarding the music video, I decided that this time I was going to use less metal & progressive, and more hard rock.  So the music for this race is not as heavy as my previous videos, but still has come catchy tunes.  Let me know what you all think.  Hope you enjoy!!!




Categories: Mountain Bike Races

RCP Race Preview & Future Updates

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday  I competed at the last race of the DORBA North Texas XC Series at Rowlett Creek Preserve.  It was a really fun race and I did take video footage during the race.  This week I’m heading home for the Thanksgiving holiday in the middle of the week and I won’t be back until the following week.  Unfortunately, I won’t have time to edit the footage and post it until I return to DFW.  So you can expect that update sometime towards the end of next week.  Until then here’s a little preview of things to come.  I hit the ground pretty hard, and as someone on DORBA noted, that I spent a lot of time checking the bike.  🙂  When I got back on the bike and started pedaling, I realized that I was hurting (you can hear me groaning).

Categories: Mountain Bike Races

2011 Tyler Speedwaves Race Report

November 15, 2011 2 comments

I decided to do something different this type around.  Not necessarily because I wanted to be creative (maybe a little) but mostly out of pure laziness.   I really didn’t want to have to type out my experiences for both days of racing.  And then having to proofread each entry.  No matter how many times I proofread these posts, I still end up missing some spelling and grammar mistakes.  I’m sure many of you have caught them.  So what  I decided to do this time was to make a VLog (video blog) and just talk about my experiences.  I need to tweak the audio just a bit and eliminate  the background noise.  And I probably need to start talking louder too.  I made some adjustments to bring out my voice a little and reduce the background noise using iMovie, but I think it came out pretty decent.

I competed at the 2011 Tyler Speedwaves race out at Tyler State Park this past weekend.  There were two races.  The first race was a speedwave race on Saturday, and the second race was a standard XC race on Sunday.  Let me know what you all think of this format.  I might stick with it if it works out well.


Day 1 — Speedwave
Day 2 — XC Race
Categories: Mountain Bike Races

24 Hours of Rocky Hill

October 22, 2011 3 comments

Yeah, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog.  I still have my drafts saved for the Hotter ‘N Hell weekend, and an XC race at Cedar Hill State Park.  I’ll finish those when I get a chance.  For now, I’m going to talk about my experience at the 24 Hours of Rocky Hill endurance race while it is still fresh in my mind.  If you’re not familiar with mountain bike endurance racing, here’s how it works.  This race was a 24 hour endurance race.  You race on a mountain bike course for 24 hours.  The person or team to get the most amount of laps in the 24 hour period wins.  There were several categories.   There were solo, 2 person teams, 3-4 person teams, and 5-8 person (Grande) teams.

Several months ago, I decided to start a Grande team.  So including myself, my goal was to recruit an 8 person team to compete.  So for the team categories, one person is out on the course at a time.  We all take turns riding laps.  The team with the most laps wins.  In the case of  teams that have the same number of laps, the tie is broken by the amount of time it took to complete the laps.  Even though, I wanted an 8 person team, the ream roster only included 5 riders.  Julie, Mike, David, Clay, and I were up against 22 other Grande teams.  Most of them had 8 riders, and a few of them had anywhere between 5 to 7 riders.  I really didn’t care about how many riders we had, it was more about the experience for me.

The race was located at Rocky Hill Ranch, just north of Smithville, TX.  I had never ridden the course there before, but have heard nothing but good things about it.  When we all arrived at the ranch, we got our pit setup right next to Big Pig Racing.  We melded our pit areas together and hung out.  Big Pig is a DFW group and most of them are active DORBA members, so a lot of us knew each other already.  So it was nice to have that moral support as well.

After we got base camp setup, a couple of us decided to pre-ride the course.  It was Friday, and the race started at 12:00pm the next day.  Considering that I really didn’t want to go blind on my first lap, pre-riding sounded like a good idea.  The only issue is that I seriously misjudged the amount of day light we had left.  I think we started our ride around 6:15pm ish.  Going through the course, the first 2 miles or so were pretty beat up.  There had been a collegiate race there the previous weekend, and rain.  So the course was rutted really bad.  And to top it off, it was all uphill too.  After you got past that area, the course was pretty smooth.

Base Camp

The sun was going down and it was getting dark, fast.  Clay and I didn’t bring any lights, as we thought we would have enough time.  So at the last 2 miles or so, it got pitch black and we wouldn’t see anything.  We ran into another woman who also didn’t have a light and we rode together.  We backed tracked about a quarter mile back to a jeep road.  No one knew if the jeep road lead back to base camp, but it was better than riding the single track.  On the jeep road, we encountered another rider with lights.  He was a friend of the other rider we encountered, and he gave her a light.  We then road back on the jeep road about a 1/2 mile back to base camp.  (Note to self, bring a light next time)  After we got back , we had some diner and hung out at camp for a while.  Most of us went to bed early, as we all had a big day tomorrow.

LAP #1

So the next day was the big race.  We all woke up and started to prepare.  With the advise of the other 24 hour racer veterans, we formulated a plan.  We all discussed how we wanted to split the laps up, and who was going to go first.  After much discussion, I wrote on my iPad the lap order.  Julie would start off with the LeMans start.  Then I would take the next lap, and Julie the 3rd lap.  I would take the 4th lap, and David, Clay, and Mike would take the next three laps.  The three would then repeat, while Julie and I rested.  After their 2nd round of laps, Julie would pull double laps, and I would pull double laps.  After that, the other 3 would do alternating laps until the 24 hours had expired.

The Plan

We also decided that if you were next in line, you would have to get ready, and be at the relay area to start your next lap.  So as soon as one team member completed their lap and checked in, the next rider would immediately check out and start their lap.

So when 12:00pm came, Julie started the team off by running the LeMans start.  The way it worked was that each rider who started had to run 100 yards to their bike.  And then they would get on their bike and start riding the course.  This kind of thins out the herd so that you don’t have about 100 people trying to enter the course at the same time.  Julie was the first female to reach her bike during the LeMans start, so she got an award for the fastest LeMans female.  Great job Julie!!

After Julie completed her first lap, I was waiting at the relay area.  She scanned in, and then I immedately scanned out.  I started my lap, knowing that the first 2 or so miles was going to be some steep climbing with a heavily rutted trail.  I didn’t want to sprint, but I wasn’t going slow either.  Going up hill on those ruts was a chore.  The ruts were bad enough to through my front tire all over the place.  I was climbing and zig zagging all over the place.  It wasn’t by choice either.  I had to dismount toward the end, and pushed my bike up the last uphill section.  Once I got back on my bike, I started to fly downhill.  There was a fun little “whoop-dee-doo” section that I flew through……well, except for the last climb out.  I was in the wrong gear and had to run up it.  After that section, were was some more climbing.  It was more of a switch back climb.  I was pretty proud of myself because I was able to clear the entire climb.  Even towards the end when it got really steep and rocky.  My heart rate reached in the 180’s bpm.  Even though my heart rate was high, I was still feeling relatively good.  Granted it sucked, but I felt in control of my body.

After this section the trail was smooth.  In some sections I was able to pick up some good speed, and in other sections there was some sustained climbing.  I managed all the climbing, which the exception of 2 or 3 course features that were technically challenging.  My heart rate was high, but still felt in control.  Also I was spinning fast in an easier gear, rather than mashing in a harder gear.  I didn’t want to blow my quads up early.  I was probably going a little slower on the climbs, but at least I wasn’t blowing up my leg(s).  Over the months, I had significantly increased my cardiovascular endurance.  So I could definitely take it cardiovascularly.

The last section of the course was all out fast.  The trail had a slight decline so I was able to pick up some mad speed.  The end of the course cut through the expo and camp area, so I was coming in pretty fast towards the finish line.  When I got to the finish line, I dismounted and ran to the scanner to check in.  After I checked in, I tagged Julie and she started her 2nd lap.  I rode back to base camp, rehydrated, and refueled.  My next lap would be a little over an hour.

LAP #2

When Julie came in after her 2nd lap, I started my 2nd.  When I stared I surprising felt pretty good.  Then I hit the first climb, and my quads started to feel sore.  And then my ass stared to feel sore.  I remeber thinking, “oh man this was a bad idea”.  But after a while I started to feel better.  I guess my legs were just in shock from resting for a little over an hour, and then getting back to the grind.  I walked up the same section of the rutted hill, but it actually started to smooth out a little.  During the last climb out of the switch back section, my quads were on fire, and had to dismount the last 20 yards or so.  I was kinda pissed because I had cleared it on my previous lap.  But oh well.  I ran up to the top and rode on.

Towards the middle of the course, I had noticed a rider on the side of the trail with his bike upside down.  I noticed that his rear derailleur was all jacked up.  I asked if he was OK, and he was, but was going to have to walk the rest of the way.  I agreed to let a course marshal or his team know when I got to the end.  I felt kind of bad for him because it was a long walk back.

The rest of the lap was somewhat uneventful.  I sustained my speed and cadence.  I was spinning fast, but my heart rate was under control.  Going up these climbs, I remember thinking that 6 months ago I would be walking most of them.  I would feel like I was about to have a heart attack, and my breathing would be erratic.  But now I’m riding smooth, my cadence is smooth, and even though my heart rate was high, it was under control.  I had lost a little time, checking on a couple of downed riders, but luckily nothing was too serious.  At the last big climb, I was able to keep my cadence and breathing steady.  I was spinning in an easier gear and kept my balance.  At the last section, I noticed a rider was pushing up his bike towards the top.  When he got to the top (or close to it), he heard me and moved out of the way.  When I got to the top, he complimented me with a, “Nice climb man!”.  I meant to say “Thank you”, but since my heart rate was high and breathing was really deep, I ended up saying something like “blahk youah!”.  Even though I didn’t make any sense, I’m sure he knew what I tried to say.

At the end, I flew through the last section as it was really fast.  I kicked it on the big ring, but one of the bumps caused my chain to fall off the big ring.  I had to stop and put the chain back on.  I pissed me off, because I lost all my momentum.  I was able to pick up speed again, but I wasn’t going as fast as I could have been.  I got to the finish line, scanned in, and tagged David so he could start his first lap.

LAP #3

So after about a 8 hour break (3 of which was kind of a power nap), it was time for my 3rd lap.  I had trouble sleeping so I just chilled for a while.  It was around 1:00 or 1:30 am.  Julie came in, and I was off for my 3rd lap.  It was really dark, obviously, but I had my helmet light and my handle bar lights to guide me.  I’m not new to night riding.  I actually love night riding.  It’s a whole different experience because you can only see what’s in front of you, so even though you’re on the same course, it’s like riding a whole new course.  I was so looking forward to this lap.  Like I said, I love riding in the dark, but alas, this lap was not a very good one.

I started off OK.  The first couple of climbs were manageable.  But during the rutted area, it started to get really loose.  I was sliding all over the place.  I was also spinning my back tire on a few sections.  This really killed the mojo for me.  I had added too much aire on my tires, and this was causing me to slide and spin out.  During the switch back area, I  fell down a couple of times.  The trail was a little dusty and I lost control at a few places.  I was really starting to get frustrated.

Almost half way through the course, I encountered an exposed tree root that had jagged edges.  It was really big, and there was pink tape around it.  The tape was to act as a cautionary measure so you can see it, and then avoid it.  This was on a switch back.  So I ended up doing the exact opposite.  I saw this root and tried to avoid it.  Instead my pedal struck it, which threw me off a little bit, and then my rear derailleur struck it.  It pulled on it, which caused me to go down.  When I landed, I stuck my hand out and hit it really hard on the ground.  It hurt pretty bad too.  By this time, I was so frustrated, and this was the icing on the cake (up until this point, oh yes, there’s more).  I was cussing up a storm, and I dare not repeat what I said on here.  I’m sure other riders heard me as I was yelling pretty loud.

After I got back up, I dusted myself off and noticed that my chain got caught behind my rear cassette.  It was wedged in there pretty good and took a little bit of strength to get out.  After I got it back out, I started riding again.  After 30 seconds, I shifted towards the first cog of the cassette, and my chain flew behind my cassette again.  Because I was spinning pretty good, the chain got all jacked up behind the cassette and hub.  This time it took me a lot longer to pull it back up.  By this time I was furious!  I was cussing again, and I damn near threw my bike off the side of the trail.  I had feared that I would have to DNF this lap.  The thought this pissed me off because if I did that, it would not count, and we would get behind.  So after several minutes, I was finally able to get my chain back in order.

As I was riding, my rear shifting was all jacked up.  I was ghost shifting.  That means my rear derailleur would shift unexpectedly (without initiating a shift).  This really threw me off and I had to stop a few times because when I was climbing, it would shift into a harder gear.  And when I would shift to easier gears, my chain would get thrown behind the cassette.  I eventually found a “sweet stop” in where my gears would not ghost shift.  Unfortunately, it was on the worst gear possible.  On the flatter sections I would spin like crazy, which caused me to go slow.  And on the climbs, the gear would be too hard and I would have to abort the climb.  Just trying to shift caused other problems.

I was able to ride the rest of the course and managed to work with my mechanical issues.  I really didn’t want to abort this lap, so luckily I was able to pull it off.  I’ve had some pretty bad rides over the years, and this was probably the worst.  Not just one of my worst races, but worst rides ever.  My lap time was really shitty.  But C’est la vie.

LAP #4

So after riding my lap from hell, I David was waiting for me and he stared his lap.  Earlier we had decided that Julie and I wouldn’t do double laps and just continue on the regular rotation.  It was a good thing because I had some mechanicals.  I took my bike back to the pit area and put in on the bike stand.  One of the other Big Pigs took a look at my rear derailleur.  He said the first problem was that I had too many gears (in jest, he’s a single speed guy).  🙂  My rear derailleur got out of wack.  He adjusted my cable tension, and readjusted my limit screws.  After a few tried he was able get my shifting in good working order.  I rode around and made sure things were good, and he did a fine job.  It was shifting so crisp and clean.  And for that I’m thankful for.

So after getting some food, I went to bed and slept for a good 3 or 4 hours.  Clay then woke me up from my slumber and told me that Julie had just started her lap.  I was after Julie, so need to get ready.  When I woke up, I got ready and ate a little breakfast.  I hydrated a little, and checked my bike again.  I adjusted my tire pressure to my liking and made sure my shifting was in good working order.  When all was well, I went back to the relay area and waited for Julie to come in.  She came in and I was off for my final lap.  It was about 8 or 9:00am by this time, so daylight has already broken.

The first climbing sections felt really good.  The rutted areas were somewhat smoothed out, and I was able to make all but one of the climbs.  I even made the last climb I had to abort on the 2nd lap.  After the first quarter of the course.  I rode past a rider who was on the side of the trail.  I asked if he was OK, and he responded that he was taking a breather.  I chuckled a little bit, because I knew all too well how he was feeling.  I rode past him (not stopping) and noticed he started riding after I passed him.  I had gained a little distance from him during the fist few minutes.  Then he started to catch up to me, and at one point he was on my rear wheel.  I figured that he wanted to pass, but there wasn’t a safe section for me to let him pass.  So I started to pick up the pace a bit and created a little gap between us.  The next sections of trail was fast and flowing.  I had created a good gap between us.  When there was enough room to let him pass, he was too far behind for me to let him, so I just kept on going.

I had noticed he was closing the gap a little, but justΩ kept up my cadence.  He would close in, and then I expanded the gap a little bit more.  He would then close in again, and I would then widen the gap a little more.  So I kind of turned this into a little game.  When he would close in, I’d pick it up a little and widen the gap.  This went of for several miles.  He was always behind me, but I would not let him catch up to me.  Then we hit a section of the trail that had some sustained climbing.  I kept my speed and cadence during the climbing.  I could hear him shifting from a distance and could hear clanking when he hit roots and rocks.  I kept on going and eventually could not hear him any more.  I would look back occasionally and would listen for clanking or shifting.  But nothing was ever heard and I never saw him again.  I let out a quick “WooHoo!” and kept on riding.  I felt pretty good…..okay little cocky….but it was a good feeling to be the stronger rider for a change.  At the end I came in really fast.  I jumped off my bike, scanned in, and David started his last lap.  Looking at the time, David would complete his lap, and Mike would take the last lap.  The 24 hours was about to expire.

Next lap


So when it was all said and done, our team finished 15th out of 23 teams with a time of 24 hours 4 minutes and 24 seconds.  It was really competitive.  As a team we rode 19 laps, which was about a total of 174 miles.  I was more than happy with the results, considering we only had 5 members and I had a really bad lap in there.  Great job to the rest of the team.  We got a long very well, and were a will oiled machine.  Even though we weren’t the fastest, we had a plan, and adjusted on the fly when necessary.  When a rider came in, a rider went out.  During that 24 hour period, we had a rider out on the course every second.

So here’s what I’ve learned from this race.  Climbing is much easier when you have lost weight.  Over the past 2 and a half months, I’ve lost close to 20 lbs.  I’ve also gained a little lean muscle in the process, as I have noticed I’m getting stronger in the gym.  But over all, my body fat has dropped, and continues to do so.  I used to be the worst climber ever.  My heart rate would be erratic and I would have to abort most elevation changes and catch my breathe.  This course had a lot of climbing.  And to top it off some of it was somewhat technical.  I didn’t make all the climbs, but I cleared most of the climbs.  So being 20 lbs ligher really helped a lot.

My cardiovascular endurance has also increased tremendously during this past year.  And I attribute this to the type of training I’m doing at the gym.  There’s a lot of misconception that lifting weights at the gym will not help you as a cyclist.  Well those people are dead wrong.  Well not totally dead wrong, just misinformed…..to the point where they sound pretty ignorant…but anyway.  It really depends how you weight train.  Many people don’t know how to properly weight train for a given goal.  Most people think that they just lift weights for 10 reps, sit on your ass for a few minutes (maybe text someone, stare at the TV, and then go for another set).  And most likely they don’t challenge themselves, so they don’t see results.  Then the figure out that weight training doesn’t help with cycling.

In that sense, then no it doesn’t.  But you’re doing it wrong.  The “lift heavy and rest” type of training works well if you want to increase your strength and gain muscle mass.  But as a racer, that may not necessarily be beneficial.  As a cyclist, I’ve found that I need to train for not necessarily strength, but for endurance and explosive movements.  All this can be done with proper weight training.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that this will make you a better rider, per se.  Saddle time will increase your riding skills, and your endurance up to a point.  What I’m saying is that proper weight training designed for the type of movements and endurance you need on the bike will help your fitness for cycling.  It won’t make you corner better, but it will make you last longer during a climb.  And that might give you just enough of a lead to move up a place or two during a race.

Here’s an example of a typical set of exercises I do regularly.  When I’m working out legs, a typical set goes like this.  I’ll do some seated leg presses with enough weight so that I fail at about 12 to 15 reps.  If my goal was for strength and muscle mass, I would lift heavy at 8 to 10 reps slowly.  But that’s not my goal.  I want to increase my leg endurance and explosive power during a sprint or climb.  Immediately after 12 to 15 reps, I perform either mountain climbers, or bear crawls.  No rest in between the leg press and the mountain climbers.  By the time I’m done, I should be breathing hard, sweeting, and my legs should be burning.  Does that sound familiar (climbing or sprinting on a bike).  I’ll do these for 2 more sets.  By the time I’m done, it’s pretty exhausting.

The weights on the leg press get my legs burning towards my lactic threshold.  After that, the mountain climbers or bear crawls are an explosive movement that train your muscles for endurance.  So when I’m out on the trail, my body is not in total shock.  Not only does it increase your muscular endurance, it increases your cardiovascular endurance as well.  Now of course, you can probably achieve the same results by riding all the time.  But realistically, very few of us can ride all the time.  Especially with the days getting shorter, it’s a little difficult to get in a good training session out on the trails.

So I guess what I’m saying is that this type of training is an excellent supplement to riding.  Call it cross training or whatever.  I’ve found this a great way to increase my fitness and drop body fat.  Does it help with my rock garden handling, or other bike skills?  Of course not, only saddle time can help with that.  But I truly believe that targeted weight training towards specific goals (endurance, explosive movements) and improve your fitness to make you a better athlete on the bike.  It’s a great alternative if you can’t ride on the trails a few hours a day.  This type of training only takes about an hour a day.

Even if you believe me or not, I’ve seen results.  I’ve dropped the body fat, and can climb better than before.  My cardiovascular endurance is so much better too.  And honestly, I’ve been riding less over the past few months.  With the days getting shorter, I pretty much only ride on the weekends, and weight train during the week.  But yet, I’m a much stronger rider than I ever have been.  Sorry to have gone on a tangent, but that’s something that irks me when I hear people saying that weight training won’t help with cycling.  If a sense, it may not if you’re doing it wrong.


So in between laps, I would hang out in the pit area and watch out for other racers.  I was really inspired by the guys and gals that were racing 24 hours solo.  Yes, solo.  I’m talking about my Dallas Bike Works team mate Denise, who raced 24 hour solo.  DORBA president Big Pig pulled an impressive 24 hour solo run.  Pigsly also raced 24 hours….on a 35 lb Surly Pugsly with 4 inch snow tires…..wicked!!!  And the legendary Ray “MuthaF***ingBadAss” Porter pulled some fast laps during his 24 hour run.  Watching these guys and gals pull off the ultimate endurance race was inspirational.  And you know what?  I now want to race a 24 hour endurance race solo.  So I’ve decided that at the 2012 24 Hours of Rocky Hill, I will be racing solo.  So that’ll be my ultimate goal, before the world ends in 2012.  🙂

But first, baby steps.  I’ve completed 6 hour races before. So in February, I’ll be racing the Dirty Dozen 12 Hour race, solo.  By that time, I should be below 200 lbs and I’ve already started a training plan.  And yes, it does include more saddle time…along with gym time.  🙂  Oh crap, what am I getting myself into.  🙂

Until next time….

Team Awesome

Categories: Mountain Bike Races