Monday, July 20, 2009

Breck 68 Race Report

Good ol' Breck....

Well. It is done. Breck 68 is in the books. Though I guess it ended up being 72 something because the promotor switched the original course last minute.

I was super nervous for this race. I have done a couple of endurance races this year, but they were only around 4 hours long. This race I was hoping to finish in under 8 hours.

The night before I prepared all of my nutrition which included about 16 powergels and Accel Gels, some clif bloks, 2 camel backs with 70 ounces of Powerbar Endurance formula each, and 4 water bottles.

My race started at 10 am so luckily I didn't have to wake up too early. My stomach was in knots and I choked down some oatmeal. I slathered on 2 layers of sunscreen. I paced the condo. Finally it was time and Chuck and I left from the hotel on our bikes and headed over to the start!

Lap 1: 32+ miles (FYI the photos will be of our preride of the course the week before because of a lack of actual race photos :^)

I lined up at the mass start and made sure to make note of my female competitors. I was about 3 rows back which was perfect. The only girl in front of me was a 32 mile racer. I chatted a bit with this nice man next to me who recognized me from the Growler race. When I said I was new to this endurance thing, he offered some advice. He said to just be smooth. Brake smooth, accelerate smooth, smooth, smooth, smooth!!! I definately took note.

Ready to go!!

My start was supposed to be neutral but I'm not sure how going 20mph uphill on a mountain bike is neutral!!! I wasn't quite sure what to do because I wanted to start slow and easy and not blow up because it was going to be a long day in the saddle. (Plus I didn't warm up because, well for obvious reasons :^) I let the front group of guys go because I was sure there were no women up there. We continued our "neutral" start and sped uphill for about 3 miles.

Then I saw a girl wearing Chipotle/Titus go by me who had an "11" on her calf!!! Before the start we had our calves marked for the race so we would know who was racing what. There were a hundred miler, 68 miler, and 32 mile races all going on at once. My category was "11." I had my eye on the Chip/Titus girl and pretty much glued myself to her wheel.... Suddenly we turned and dropped into singletrack. Let the race begin!!! It began at a nice and easy pace which made me quite happy. All the riders were all backed up and there wasn't much room for passing. We hit a dirt road after a bit and I made sure to drink up and have a gel because I knew what was coming.

After a few miles the riders were more spread out and I turned up a rocky climb. A horrible rocky climb. It started out okay but quickly turned awful. I panted for air as we were at about 11,500 feet in altitude. My tires had too much air (ha!) and I bounced all over the place. Almost everyone was walking and slugging their bikes up and up and up. I rode as long as I could and passed a few riders, but eventually succombed to the stupid angular rocks. I didn't want to waste too much energy and so I decided to walk as well. I was extremely aware of the fact that I had 7 more hours of riding to go!!! Chipotle/Titus girl and I were still right together. I got rolling on my bike again and I came to a little stream crossing. No problem, right? Right? Well, were out in the middle of nowhere and there was a big golden retriever sitting right on our line!!! I have no idea where this dog came from, but I managed to squeek out a warning and tried to sound scary (low O2 up there!) but he was a happy little camper in the cool stream. Luckily I was able to slide around him and continued up the ridiculous rocky ascent.
Here is a pic of Danielle climbing from when we prerode this section. The picture definately does not show how rough and rocky and bumpy this climb was.

I was very, very excited to finally hit the top of the climb which was basically at the tree line on the mountain. Downhill time!! I headed down a super cool flume trail on the side of the mountain. Luckily I was in front of the Chip/Titus girl because I could recover, take a breather, and not have her pass me!! If she tried to pass she would fall down the steep slope of the mountain. Yikes!

Another pic from our preride: Scott Chambers starting the descent dow the flume trail.

So a few miles of singletrack and steep jeep road descents later, we turned up again. I was a little disconcerted because this was not the course we had preridden. I heard before the race that the promotors changed the course and took out a bunch of dirt roads and added singletrack. Good thing I prerode to prepare for the race! Ha. We ended up climbing singletrack for what seemed to be forever, and I ate and drank, ate and drank, and then finally headed down. This is when I lost Chipotle/Titus girl. I wasn't super comfortable descending on my hardtail and there were lots of tight switchbacks. I tried to relax and be smooth and not do anything stupid. I eventually came off the Colorado Trail singletrack and grabbed a couple of hammer gels and a bottle of water at the aid station and headed onward. I was nearing the end of the lap and we just had a steep dirt road to climb before heading down to the start. I caught Chipotle/Titus girl going up the jeep road, but she passed me on the descent.

Top of the long climb on the dirt road, almost done with the lap!

I rode through the start/finish and switched camelbacks and grabbed 6 or 7 more gels. Thanks to team Topeak/Ergon's Jeff Kerkove who was helped me out at the transition! He thought I was bleeding because I had this dark brown stream running down my leg. Actually, it was just expresso flavored hammergel.... :^) After I sucked down each gel, I didn't know where else to put my empty wrappers but to tuck them in my shorts!! My jersey pockets were packed with full gel packets, so the empties went in the shorts!!! Everything got pretty sticky, but I didn't care!

Lap 2:

I headed up Boreas Pass road and passed Chip/Titus girl for like the 8th time. I cruised along and somehow realized I had missed a turn. The promotor had mixed up this lap as well to add more singletrack and less roads. Like the race wasn't hard enough. I turned around and cursed myself for wasting energy and got back on course. After a bunch of climbing I could see the red Kenda jersey of my friend Danielle up ahead!!! I pressed on for a bit and caught up to Danielle. There is no way I would ever catch her normally, but I found out she was suffering from altitude sickness!!! She couldn't keep anything down and was puking and puking. She wasn't able to keep down any water or food. She just kept trooping along. She is so tough, its unbelievable!

At this point Danielle and I couldn't figure out where the course went. The jeep road we had been riding on turned into a stream. Then there was some singletrack off to the left..... Hmmm.... We tried the singletrack and looked for the orange ribbons that had been marking the course. No ribbons. ? By this time there was about 6 of us pushing up this horrible loose climb. This had to be the course? Danielle and I and Chip/Titus girl hike-a-biked up some unrideable stuff and I angrily decided to take out my race directions from the pack. Shouldn't a course be marked well enough for us to not have to refer to the directions???? The not so good directions said to not cross the stream and the only other way was our crazy singletrack that did not look very travelled, so we were confused. After wasting ridiculous amounts of time, we decided to turn around. Back to where we were. Somehow we found a tiny ribbon marking a hint of a trail. We were back on track after crossing wood planks over the creek (yes we did cross the creek).
Then it was another climb! Surprise! Almost at the beginning there were riders walking. I rode as much as I could and walked a few parts when I felt my heart beating out of my chest!!!!!!!! This awful climb went on forever, and was not part of the original course that we had preridden.

Danielle crossing the beaver dam on our preride.

Finally I got to Boreas Pass Road and knew some fun downill singletrack was to come. I somehow felt good after 5 1/2 hours of riding (too conservative the first lap I think) and was ready to nail it. I had shaken T/P girl on the jeep road and I didn't want to see her again!!! I headed down the GoldDust singletrack and finally felt relaxed and comfortable descending on my hardtail. Fun!!! It was a little weird, however, because it was so isolated and lonely out there. I didn't see many riders at all. Down and down, I crossed a beaver dam and rode on and on over rocks and roots. Eventually I popped out of the singletrack and turned left at the town of Como (population: 3?) for a long climb. With a nice headwind and lots of stutter bumps on the dirt road it was a bit uncomfortable. I did feel okay, though, and drank and gelled up. I was very determined to not see C/P girl sneaking up on me!! I pushed up the climb and saw a marmot on the side of the road. Cute!! Then I passed a couple of whacked out 100 mile men racers. They gave me the goofiest smiles as I rode by and offered them some encouragement. Seeing the state they were in made me scared to do the hundred miler!!!

Windy point near the top of the climb.

I knew when I reached the top of the climb it was only a few more miles of trail downhill to the finish. I could see the finish, feel the finish! I came to the last section of singletrack and bounced over rocks and roots trying to keep a good pace but not lose control. The light and shadows made it tricky to see what was coming. Then I popped out onto a paved road and headed toward the finish. A few more orange arrows to follow and then I rode on through the finish line!!!!!!!! I was pretty sure I had won but didn't want to get too excited just in case. I rode straight over to the Ergon tent and dropped my bike and plopped on the ground!!! I made it!!!! I finished. 8 hours and 34 minutes of riding.

Final section of singletrack before the finish!

I didn't know how I finished until they called us to the podium and announced that I had gotten second place. I was bummed but too tired to feel much emotion. However, when I checked out the race results online the next day, I noticed that the girl who had supposedly won had a crazy 2nd lap time of 2 1/2 hours. It had taken me 4 1/2 hours. I knew her time was impossible as this was a half hour faster than the fastest pro man's time. I emailed the promotor and they looked into it. Turns out the girl had to turn around at an aid station and skip the second half of the lap because she missed the cutoff time. They fixed the results and I moved into first place! A little anticlimactic I must say. Oh well!

So there it is. Done! I have to give super props to Danielle for finishing the 100 miler after being so sick. Most everyone in the universe would have quit, but not Danielle. I am so proud of her!!! She is a bad ass for sure :^)


Genevieve McKeiver Photography said...

congrats Juli!! Looks like life is going great for you guys out there!

The Byrnes said...

wow julie that's incredible! i don't think i could ride 100 miles down hill on a paved trail with the wind at my back. awesome!! hope all is going well out in colorado.

randy and jen (ridgeway)