Monday, May 10, 2010

12 hours of Mesa Verde

We pulled into Cortez a little before two, stopped into the bike shop for race check in, hit the local biker (as in Harley's) bar for some lunch, then headed out to preride the course they call Phil's world just outside of town. Home base for the race was at the fairgrounds, a place I had been in my younger years to do some team roping and calf roping on the high school rodeo circuit.

It was a bluebird day and here are Eric and Tyler, getting ready to head out and see what ol' Phil had in store for us. This is the only photo I've got of anyone before the race.

The preride was a riot - the trail is an intense one in the sense that it requires almost constant attention to handling. Banks is expressing his appreciation for a section of trail known as Tuffy's Rim.
This is me after lap two or three. Bill Twinting from the Porcupine club was a few tents down and had come down in between laps and made some passing comment about salt on my face that I didn't pay much attention to. Then Eric told me my face looked like it was peeling off from lepracy. Not sure if that's a function of the XL gas station burrito I had for my night before the race dinner, or a body that hasn't transitioned to working in summer weather yet, but I do believe that's the saltiest crust I've ever worn.
Last of the pics I've got from post race and then we'll get to race details...

Here's Banks at the end of the day.
Here's Tyler, who, given the face he's making, might also be mid sentence in describing his fond memories of riding Tuffy's on his rigid single speed.

So, race details:
  • The Lemans start was a crack up - reminded me a little bit of cyclocross starts at Wheeler farm. Bunch of bike dudes and girls in cleats trying to sprint for the hole shot, even though there wasn't one. I saw one guy go down hard on the run, 15 yards from the start line - would have been a little comical to see how long he had to stay down while people jumped him before he could get up safely.
  • Weather was absolutely ideal, could not have been better. Trail conditions were also ideal, maybe the buffest 1track I've ever ridden.
  • I started the day thinking I wanted to get 100+ miles in, which would mean needing to ride 7 laps. That lasted until after lap 3, when I had 50 miles plus some change on the Garmin, and I was not the slightest bit dissapointed at the revelation that 6 laps would get me the mileage. I'd timed heading out on 5 to leave a half hour cushion to take a quick break and get out on 6 before the cutoff. The idea of doing 6 lasted until just over halfway through #5, at which point I commited to not doing a 6th.
  • My on the bike pacing was actually better than I expected - laps (riding time) weren't really tight, but tight enough for my first solo effort - Net of pit stop/lounge time, fastest one was the first at 1:34, and the slowest were 3 and 5 at 1:48. Felt fairly good for the first two laps. Encountered some fading at various points on the latter 3. The most bipolar lap was #5, the first half of which I felt the best I'd felt all day - thought I'd really broken through a barrier in understanding my longer distance endurance capacity by feeling that good that late in the day. But you know what they say about endurance efforts - if your feeling either good or bad, don't worry, it ain't gonna last. Well, the 2nd half of lap 5 was my lowest point of the day, I faded fast, and badly.
  • My off the bike pacing probably needs work. I came in off lap 2 about 45 minutes ahead of pace and wonder if I made a mistake by starting to take long breaks that early. It was that stop that I pulled out the anti-gravity recliner chair and put my feet up for a bit. Don't know that I'd do better if done differently, but am curious if I might be better off just making quick stops and riding until I can't anymore... may be a better strategy than shutting it down all the way and then firing it up again over and over. Don't know one way or the other, but maybe an area I should try and do it a little different next time?
  • The course was demanding and fantastic in various ways, in it's flow, in it's mix of short hard efforts rewarded with ripping downhill, in it's capacity to deliver physically shattering rugged sections (Tuffy's Rim) then have you giggling out loud minutes later with what must have been more than a miles worth of the biggest pump track I've ever seen - known as the rib cage section. It was also amazingly capable of handling a race that size without getting offensively congested. Even the first lap with the obvious shakeout that needed to occur was better than I would have thought, and by the later laps, it was wide open. Traffic was never more than a minor issue.
  • I have never been more sore after a bike ride than I was after this one. It wasn't the longest ride, but think I'd call it the hardest I've done. My lower back was completely shot, which I'll blame on the rugged terrain moreso than the short climbs. There is also minor scabbing in unfortunate spots that I thought had escaped being open sores. I was beat down pretty badly. Tyler rode it on a rigid singlespeed, can't post the right comment for what that must have been like.


  • These 12 hours of whatever/wherever races make for fun roadtrips with buds. There were people there who had come alone and I'm just not that hardcore I guess - I wouldn't make that type of trip/effort by myself. Going it solo for the first time was a good experience, and I'll do it again if either 1 - I feel I need an unusually large day on the bike or 2 - I hate myself. As for fun, it was riding a bike, which has some fun factor built in automatically - but it was sufficiently hard that fun would not be the proper descriptor for the day. For fun, I think a 4 man team is the way to ride these. That being said, suspect I'll be riding solo at this one next year just to try and exploit a few of the typical hindsight items that one always has after a race.
  • Before the injury last year, I thought I was ready for the summer's big race, Leadville - had no questions about finishing and had an ambitious goal that I though was within reach if things went well. This year, the big summer race is Butte, and after Saturday, I've got some serious concerns about not just a respectable time, but flat out finishing. Can tell you right now that if that course requires the same amount of handling work to manage technical terrain that Mesa Verde had, along with the additional climbing, then I'm in both 1- trouble and 2 - over my head. Hoping it's feature's consist of more long, steady climbs which would suit my current condition a little better. Mesa Verde required some different components of conditioning than what I've got or get on the stuff I ride a lot-something I'll look to address some the remainder of the year.
  • Hell of a trip with the guys once again. We haven't solved the economic crisis yet, but we're getting closer, and we always have a heck of a time.


evilbanks said...

holy leprosy batman-----I was laughing when I saw that but didn't have the energy to give you shit about it. Had a great time out there with you guys---put me down for next year.........

Jason said...

Banks - thanks for letting me mingle with folks with that crap on my face... we need to go squeeze an extra lap or two out of it next year - learned a lot this year.

Eber said...

For the love of mothers - why do they have to hold that thing on Mothers Day every year?

Awesome trip boys - thanks for having me.

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