Having a goal is a good way to start the day. I started Saturday September 11th with the goal to complete the Tahoe Sierra 100 Ultra Endurance Mountain Bike Race. I wasn’t looking to do it in any time specifically, except that the organizer had put a limit of 14 hours on it. I attempted to do this event in 2009 and came very close but did not complete it. I learned a few things through that experience and after this past year of training, planning and competing in a few much shorter races I felt I was ready to tackle the event again.
The first thing I learned from last year’s experience was that I needed to eat and drink more, both before the race; peanut butter banana French toast to start the day, and, of course, during the race… I tried to eat the food available at the aid stations, in addition to the energy bars and gels I had in the pockets of my pack. The aid stations were fabulous at this event…standard water, Cytomax and Heed to refill my pack and bananas and oranges for electrolytes and energy, but also peanut butter sandwiches, pickles, chips, goldfish, M&Ms, and even chicken tacos at mile 67. I tried a mouthful of various things at the different stations and I particularly enjoyed the Pringles! I did it, at least, until the last two stations where I didn’t stop in the interest of time.
The race didn’t start in the dark but we were off as soon as the sun rose at 6:30. The race started with some wonderful doubletrack cross country ski trails at the Royal Gorge Resort in Soda Springs. These trails led to the Soda Springs Fire Road and onto the same 100 mile course as last year. Now, last year I rode cautiously down this fast descent studded with babyheads at the start of the race, but came back up it in a truck 14 hours later. Fire ‘road’ is an overstatement, it was so rocky and so bumpy…. Well, let’s just say motion sickness got the better of me as a passenger in that truck and no regular car could drive on this road. But this year was different. Familiarity helped and I had fun blasting down Soda Springs Road, water bottles flying, at a speed much faster than last year. I did ride up this road at the end of the race, it wasn’t even completely pitch black at that point, though in fairness I was feeling a little fuzzy so I did go very slowly.
The descents were awesome… The extra year has given me more confidence and I truly was able to rip it down some of the descents. I really felt in control and able to pass other racers who were being more cautious. The climbs on the other hand were an exercise in restraint… The goal was to try and pace the effort to keep my heart rate below my ceiling so that hopefully as the hours ticked on and the miles clicked by I would have enough reserve left to complete the distance. Can’t say that I was full of pep at the end…. With respect to distance, I bonked this year at about the same mile marker, but it was much early in the day as I had been riding faster overall and so those last 30 miles and 3+ hours were doable… Just barely.
I can truly say I did not feel as bad this year, but I had a dizziness and odd feeling of wanting to stop and not wanting to stop that was very uncomfortable. But there was no choice in the end, I had to ‘ride through the bonk’. There were two other riders that we had played leap frog with all day and in the end they finished a few minutes ahead and that also helped me mentally to push on when I didn’t want to, to know I wasn’t the only one who was out there that long, because after all to set a cutoff time would imply that a reasonably good rider should be finished within that time. And truthfully I was pushing that time when I crossed the line a few minutes past 14 hours.
But, I crossed that finish line on my own steam and to cheers, no less! As I came up that last pitch with the sweeper motorcycle behind me, those cheers coming from the dark were very welcoming. They gave me a medal and I was handed a cup of minestrone soup. It was perfect!!! I knew it — eating and drinking more was a good goal.
Thanks, Osprey for helping me get through my big event of the 2010 season. Next, bring on the stage events!!!
2010 Osprey Hydraulics Team Member