Monday, May 7, 2012

The course (or at least most of it, my garmin was off for ~30min so i missed 6-7 miles total, including the Pine Ridge singletrack)
Gravel roads are to Columbians (as in Columbia, MO) as heroin is to a 1980’s New York Punk rocker; we just can’t seem to get enough. So the idea of a long gravel race with interspersed sections of singletrack, especially an event that doesn't require our obligatory 2hrs of I-70 driving, had many of us giddy with excitement. I’ll do my best to describe the event’s of the day here in this blog post, but for those of you who just want to skip to any hard data associated with the ride, there is a bike-computer file at the bottom. Preparation for this event began was essentially dialing in the cross bike; and for this event I busted out the wheels I’ve been riding on the road this winter/spring, some sweet Stan’s alpha 340 rims laced with cycleops (G3 rear) hubs and some cushy 34 width tubeless file-tread cross tires inflated to ~40psi.
Otherwise, I did some recon of the northwestern portion of the course and essentially had this race falling on the last week of a 12-week 'base building' period.
I knew that with the right group, average speeds would be 16-18mph and that it’d be a long day. However I did not know how many fellow BoCoMo folks would be doing the race and how collegial the racing would be. It turned out that without planning anything or any explicit alliances, that BoCoMo folks would be watching out for eachother. Bob Jenkins and crew poured their hearts, souls, and muscle power into this race. The amount of work involved in putting on a fun, non-sanctioned 100+ miler with some portions riding on singletrack that they groomed and/or essentially built, is pretty mind boggling. These guys really did a great job. The cue sheets were accurate and with the exception of the last section of river-bottom gravel roads, which to no fault of the promoters, everything was well marked. Speaking of that last section of gravel in the river bottoms, I know I should probably write this little narrative chronologically, but if there was any part of the race where myself and my BoCoMo compatriots all essentially wanted to tear our eyeballs out and curse anything, it was for sure Tebbetts to Jeff City or around mile 90-115. Imagine the gravel that forms the bed of a railroad track, i.e. loose, large pieces, maybe half-golfball sized. Now imagine a perfectly flat 20ish miles with essentially no smooth path through said gravel, 90-95degree temps, no shade, and 90-100miles in the legs at an average power of ~210w. Let's just say that we were happy to finish and if it weren't for Josh Johnson's superman endurance and willingness to pull me and our other two riding partners through all of this, we would have gone a lot slower (or maybe just limped back to the shade of the KT and gone off course, which we didn't). During this part, I kept reminding myself that I had spent just over 2 hours in an MRI tube on Tuesday (no room, lots of hard surfaces, and loud as a railroad train), that this last section was just different suffering and despite the heat, that I was still riding a bike and even, at least overall, having fun. Ok, now re-wind. Back to the beginning...somewhere between 150-200 people setout on this somewhat quixotic adventure at 9am from Jefferson City. We would brave 90+ degree temperatures and unknown amounts of pretty gnarly singletrack (at the end of the day, I think maybe an 45-60min of the course total was spent on singletrack). Almost all of the day's riding would be on gravel. Almost immediately, Josh and myself would be at the front doing some pacemaking. You can see from this map that the section of the course in red, ~10miles was the peak 30min power section (265w for the 30min):
At this point, the pace was solid but not full-on race pace and there were no intentions of deliberately shelling anyone. But, the front group was slowly whittled down to 15-20 by mile 20. Miles 20-30 were more gravel roads at a bit slower pace. This is where, for me, the serious effort to eat/drink enough began. I stared downing some kind of solid-energy-bar + some shot blocks and electrolyte drink basically every hour from then on out, however I'm convinced that the Coca-cola graciously provided by Josh's parents at around mile 70 (Ham's Prairie) was probably the major tipping point in actually finishing the ride. Anyway, we hit the second singletrack at around mile 30 and it was long. Fun, but long. There were sections we rode, but generally opted to walk so as not to risk flatting. By around mile 35 our group was down to 10-15 and we had open gravel roads ahead. Once again, Josh, me, and Steve MacIntyre were riding the front and at some point around mile 40 realized that our group was now 5, with Steve MacIntyre, Josh, Jason Wulff, myself, and the simply-amazing Peat Henry (who was riding a single speed with 38x16 gearing). From there, our group was set and steady until mile 65-75 when Peat came off the back and we were then 4 for the rest of the day.
Except for a rough spot for Jason early on, we were all having a good time until around the KT Trail, which was around mile 80. The balls of my feet started to sear in pain with almost every pedal stroke and we all limped in to Mokane very happy to see Jason's parents with cold drinks. I guess my feet were just getting ischemic because I took my shoes off in Mokane, put some ice on them for about a minute, then walked around in the grass and got back into my shoes and on the bike and the problem was gone. The last section of the KT before we turned and headed out to the dreadful, scorching-hot farm roads was actually quite pleasant. We were not hauling, but we weren't crawling either. But once we headed out onto CtRd 4000, I was at the point where I guess many endurance experiences can take you: on the edge of wondering if you're actually going to make it. The reasonable voice in my head was thinking about how hot it was and the sun. And at that point, we didn't know how rough the gravel was going to be. I don't think I was ever hating life and really on the edge of quitting, but man was it good to be with friends. Like I said earlier, Josh did most of the work on this last section. There was no question that I started to consider myself in survival mode, but at the same time, I was OK with that. If the event were an official race, with money or glory or something like that on the line and one of us really wanted to win, I have little doubt that Josh deserved it the most. He was the strongest out there. But the 4 of us decided that we had all significantly contributed on the day and that when we finally approached the finish, that we'd ride across together...tying for first. Which is to say, that if BoCoMo won, Peat Henry got second place (again, on a single speed, riding the last 1/3 of the race alone!). Summary for the ride (again, add about 30-35min and 6-7miles since I forgot to re-start the garmin):
On the health front and with respect to my trip to MD Anderson: -The cancer cells in my neck, lungs, and vertebrae are all just hanging out; probably wishing they had some more thyroid-stimulating-hormone, that my immune system wasn't in good shape, and that I didn't ride my bike so much thus ensuring excellent insulin sensitivity, aerobic fitness, and mental clarity.


Jeff Yielding said...

Great report Dan, well done to you all!

Butthead said...

My ass looks big compared to Steve's ass.

Schottler said...

Nice write-up, wish I could have been a part of it!

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