Monday, May 25, 2009

Out of Retirement and into the Growler

Gunnison Growler Race Report! We have a race report!!!

Well, well, well................We are back! So much for an easy retirement... No more eating pizza and drinking beer, no more eating cheese and drinking wine, and of course we can't get all sentimental and keep reliving the races we did 5 years ago.....

Why not come back out of retirement and do one of the hardest races EVER? Um, okay, we did not know it was going to be so @#*% ridiculously challenging. This race was the knarliest mountain bike races either one of us has ever done.

So I signed us up for the Gunnison Growler about 3 months ago. You would never know how easy it is to sign up for a race that far in the future when the weather is quite lovely (it was especially easy for Chuck who didn't even know I signed him up :^). It was sunny and 60-70 degrees in March when I entered us in the race. Good training weather. However, I'm pretty sure it went downhill from the moment I hit the "Submit Payment" button. Every single day that I had off from work we would get a huge blizzard or it would just alternate between rain and snow and slush and crap for a couple of days. Needless to say we did not get long training days in.

Suddenly, before you know it, May arrived!!!! The Growler was fast approaching and no longer in the distant future. I am definately someone who gets pretty nervous and worked up before races, so about 2 weeks before the race I think my stomach started eating itself. I forgot everything I knew about racing, but then again, I was a roadie and this endurance mountain biking is a whole entirely different scenario. I was at a level about 10% below panic for many days before the race. I don't know what the heck to eat before an endurance event, or what to eat during an endurance event. I only know what to eat after the race, and that of course, would be pizza and beer. Yeah, yeah, sorry, not gonna give that up!

So every racer knows to do a trial run of what you eat for breakfast on raceday and definately what you put in your bottles and eat during the race. In the past I have done a whole lot of criteriums that are no longer than 45 minutes and road races that are about 2-2 1/2 hours, how on earth am I supposed to know what to do for an insanely ridiculous stupid hard 4 hour long mountain bike race?

The answer, of course, would be to put a little bit of everything in my jersey pockets, and whatever I grabbed is what I was going to shove down my throat. Clif bloks? Check. Powergels? Check. Endurox gels? Check. And a weird concoction in the water bottles which somehow ended up with 250 or so calories a bottle? Check.

Here we are after arrriving at the KOA campground in Gunnison, Colorado. This was one of the very few sunny moments of the entire Memorial Day Weekend.

So, we established camp and headed off to preride the course at Hartman Rocks. After a two mile neutral roll out from town, the race was to start up the dirt road in the middle and center of this photo. I know, it doesn't look that bad, but believe me it is STEEP. See the tiny dot of a person before the bend in the climb? He is walking!! Slowly!! Check out the angry sky which would unleash torents of rain to make the road nice and slippery and peanut buttery for the race the next day.

Here I am preriding the course, climbing the two track through the sagebrush before we hit the first section of singletrack. My heartrate would be maxed out here during the race, but little did I know then that this was going to be the easiest part of the race by far.

We ran into Namrita and Eddie O'dea during our preride. They both did the 64 mile Growler and race for Team Ergon. And they are super cool to hang out with :^)

Here is my husband showing of some mad wheelie skills, making the nephews proud.

After the initial doubletrack climb we would drop into this singletrack.

Unfortunately we could preride only a small portion of the singletrack because we didn't want to tire ourselves out for the race the next day.

Chuck is descending the very last little section of singletrack before the race finish line. The wonderful, glorious, happy, lovely, spectacular finish line.

And back at camp.....

Camping did not turn out to be the best idea. Rain, rain, cold, hail, and more rain drove us into a hotel room after the first night of zero sleep in the tent.

This is a petty accurate depiction of the experience on raceday. This mural was painted on the building of a restaurant in downtown Gunnison. One of the awesome race volunteers that we met when we checked in and got our race numbers actually got struck by lightning at this very race the year before. Now that is hardcore! Wow. Glad I learned this fact AFTER I was done racing.

So the race recap: Huge climb, HR 185, climb some more, no recovery, singletrack, rock step up, rock drop off, rain, mud, slippery rocks, hike a bike, rotting carcass at mile 15, death drops of death, 2 second front wheelie of almost death, muddy steeeep climbs, more rain and wind, "Dismount Recommended" signs (yes, I obeyed), exhaustion, a growling stomach (I sadly only had 2 gels and 1 1/4 bottles for this 3hr, 55 minute race), and finally after 32 miles, in pouring rain.......... Done!!!!!!!

I somehow ended up with second place. I thought I got last place because I was suffering like a dog the entire race. I never felt good, except on the easy 2 mile neutral roll out, and I did perk up when I saw the finish line. Chuck handled the technical rocky sections and descents like a pro and ended up with 7th.

All that was left of our race numbers was this little scrap on Chuck's bike. The rain started about 15 miles into the race and wreaked havok upon the course and our numbers. They lay every so often on the side of the trail as they got more and more soggy and finally gave up the ghost. The first half of my poor number 238 is probably at mile 19 or so, and the second half of it hung on for a while, but blew off around mile 23.

Time to hit the road and get back to the Springs.... All in all, it was a successful weekend. We met some very awesome people, did an epic race, raced with former olympians (they all live in Colorado, I swear!), and finally got some new material for the blog.

The grey and purple skies let a tiny bit of sunshine through and highlighted the peaks of these fourteeners on our drive home back to the Springs. Sometimes I still can't believe we live here.