Friday, July 30, 2010
ORAMM Race Report, part 2
I owned Curtis Creek this year. Last year, my legs went on strike at aid station 2, but today was like riding without a chain. I gobbled up plenty of carrots in those 9 miles. I caught back up to Rich; I taunted him with the 6 hour thing, but his face told a different story. That was the last I saw of him.
I did have to slow it down a bit at the midway point, not because of my fitness, but because of the heat. I started to get a headache and felt a slight chill, telltale signs that if you ignore, the next thing you know, you will be on the ground babbling incoherently. I knew I was close to the top when the switchbacks got steeper and tighter. I rolled in to aid station 3 and was immediately greeted by several smiling faces. One filled my gel flask, one offered an ice cold coke and the other had my drop bag. Was I in heaven? The aid station volunteers were awesome!
The gravel descent down the other side of the Parkway was insanely sketchy. I have never felt so out of control on a gravel road descent. After a couple front wheel slide outs, I determined what little time I might be gaining by riding stupid was not worth the risk. I slowed it down to a more life sustaining speed; it seemed like forever before I hit the bottom.
The 4 mile climb back up to the Parkway was uneventful, except for the nagging headache that would not go away despite what I thought was an adequate fluid intake. The volunteers at aid station 4 were masters of their game and had me off and pedaling up the Parkway to the infamous hike-a-bike. I think I ingested too much gel and Rapidade at the last aid station because as I pushed my bike up to Heartbreak Ridge, I became nauseous. This brought back not so fond memories of The Burn 24 Hour.
As I began the looooooong descent down Heartbreak, my body was able to draw some blood from my legs and finish the digestion process. The nausea soon passed. I always forget just how long Heartbreak is. I always start off "Whoo-hooing!" but that soon changes to "Oh my God, my head is going to fly off my neck!"
This section requires absolute focus which is hard to do when all your eyes see is a constant "dirt, sky, dirt, sky, dirt, sky ...". There are a few kickers on this trail that allowed my body to realign itself and prepare for the final switchbacky descent that I initially rode up on the way to Star Gap. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my ride down and my Specialized Era rocked it! (I would love to see what an Enduro would do on Heartbreak, however.)
I rolled on through aid station 5 and looked at my time: 5:17. That sub-6 was not looking good, but I thought I still had a chance to equal last year's time. Well, at least until I began the 4 mile climb up Miller Creek. Did I just enter hell? This was the most exposed road of the day. It was now 1:30pm and probably 97+ degrees. The heat was like a ton of bricks sitting on my chest. It was here that I really had to dial the power down or suffer the consequences. I passed through the parking lot, not looking forward to the steep-a$$ climb back to the top of Kitsuma. I made it, albeit slower and a few more times off the bike.
The descent seemed like an eternity. Very powdery after having 400+ riders come through and a lot of skid marks off the trail. Once again, my Ergon GR2's comforted my hands on this bumpy terrain. I popped out onto the pavement and immediately went into time trial mode. This lasted about 30 seconds when my inner quads screamed at me and threatened to lock up. I backed off and rode at a cramp-free speed. No need to kill myself; there was a "jelly" in a white Cadillac Seville that tried to do that for me. Speeding along, horn blaring, swerving around me at the last minute ... yeah, you are really cool, old man!
I crossed the finish line in 6:33, 1st place woman (and the oldest, I might add), and 31st overall. The slower time I will blame on the heat, for I felt I was fitter than last year. All said and done, I felt that I properly executed my race and nutrition plan for this one. I consumed 170 ounces of fluids (Rapidade, water, and Coke) and I took in about 230 kcal/hour. I don't think I could have gone any harder.
Kudos to Todd for once again putting on a stellar race. Great course markings, wonderful volunteers, a nice creek to cool off in post-race, and good food.
I might add that Zeke finished 5th in the 50+ category and would have possible been higher up on the podium were it not for the time spent helping the heat casualty up on Kitsuma. Not only is he one fast old dude, but a trail angel. Those in his class at Leadville had better watch out!