Saturday, August 7, 2010

Butte 100 2010

Let's get the ugly fact out of the way right out of the gate - I didn't finish, not even very close, little over 20 miles short. No excuses and no regrets, a few hindsight items that I'd change up. In fact, aside from the overall letdown of not getting it done, I was pretty encouraged about how my day went and how I felt during/post race given the circumstances.

Breakdown of the good/great, and the ugly:

What went well:

*Maybe a foreboding to some stuff below, but while putting the front wheel on my bike before the race, noticed the pin that holds the front brake pads in was missing. Found a regular old twig and stuck it in there, and it worked like a charm all day.
*Energy/Nutrition - hesitate to say that I've got it figured out and completely dialed in for these long days, but on this day I did. Never had or approached that real bad place called the bonk. Managed pace with energy levels real well all day.
* Portions of the course, with a 2nd emphasis on portions. There is some fantastic terrain in Butte for a race like this, and we got to see a lot of it. Bob talked about doing two 50 mile laps in the future, but I really like the setup of a 100 mile race that doesn't duplicate miles or run as an out and back - know it's logistically more difficult from the organizers seat, but it's a superior layout if you've got the terrain, and Butte does. Thought that from Nez Perce all the way into aid station 5 was good, with some being exceptional. Highlights being the CDT, a creek crossing that you realized was a small swimming pool crossing only after committing to it with no room to alter course, rut/endo hill (my unscientific survey was running about 80% of folks going down on that one 50 yard section of the course). The back half of the course also had some exceptional stuff, at least through mile 83/84 which is as much as I saw. It was hard, but fair, with the exception of a few sections that were maybe a little silly that made the other list.
*Riding in the backcountry in a good, loud, thunderstorm. This one's a matter of opinion as I know some of the guys didn't appreciate it, but I dug it. Lightning was noticed but didn't get threatening, plenty of thunder, got a little chilly, thought it provided a nice little sense of serenity and isolation to the overall day and anything to liven up the senses that late in the game is good for the mindset.
*Flirting with chicks - rolled into the 1st aid station and several of the wives had driven out to do some crewing and offer encouragement. I still had a few things in my pockets that I hadn't used, so when Holly asked what she could do, I, completely oblivious, asked her to pull out my banana. She and Jess cracked up, said that didn't sound very appropriate, and then pulled the banana out of my jersey pocket and even offered to peel it. Told her to give Sam my apologies for flirting with his wife, and was on my way. Thanks to them for the laugh, anything that makes you smile during one of these races is a bonus.
*Sun Sleeves - had picked these up the week before and tested them out on the Great Basin ride. They're made for sun protection, but their utility goes much further than that. They were most useful on the Whiskey Gulch section which got downright hot (my Garmin had it at 95* there), sprayed them down with water and they almost act as air conditioners on your arms, especially if there's any breeze, and could stuff ice into them at the aid stations. Seriously, they were really great, swear by them.
*Neon dots - read some complaints on the race web site about difficulty finding feed bags. I try to find some way to let the kids feel like their part of the race other than just being neglected when I go for rides. For this one, that included putting neon stickers all over my feed bags, which made it easy to pick them out from the others right away each time I pulled into a station. Simple triathlon trick of finding something, usually obnoxious, that makes your stuff stand out and easy to find. Thanks to the kiddo part of the crew for doing that.
*Annie - aside from being able to read me dead on during a race and knowing what to say and do while crewing, the real work is the time she affords me before the race to go try and train for this kind of crap while she stays home and manages the parent duties. She indirectly puts a lot of work into these races, and I think about that a lot while out there and am driven by it. She's pretty great, and at one point during the day she got in my ear a bit when she thought I wasn't hustling as much as I could/should. Turned out she was right - hell of a partner and teammate.

The ugly:
*Want to start by being clear that this is not an excuse for not finishing, just a circumstance that led to a puzzle that I couldn't figure out how to solve for the last 20 or so miles of the first half of the race, and that put me into more difficulty than I could afford to get into that early in the day. I've always been in the camp that thought the guys running shuttles with their downhill bikes were a little soft, that they should ride uphill to earn the downhill. The downhill Gods brought me to my knees and forced me to repent of my nievity at the Butte 100. Those of you familiar with the rear shock system of a Specialized Epic will see the challenge right away.For those not, there's a piece that's of some importance that somehow came off.

As a little salt in the wound, that shock is about 80 miles fresh off of a rebuild that wasn't cheap. Not sure exactly how it came off, assume it happened when I let a front wheel slide into a rut and endo'd on the aforementioned hill, but the loss of it changed the bike from a stiff XC ride that climbs great, to a loose squishy that bottomed out with sag with even the slightest bit of torque/power applied to the pedals on even flat ground. I spent the next 5 miles experimenting with every gear on the bike trying to find something that would feel more than 50% efficient, it literally felt like half the work I put into the pedals went to making the bike bounce, and half went to the ground to make the bike go. It was a puzzle I couldn't solve. Got a little panicky in trying to minimize the damage to my overall race that was occuring, ended up settling on spinning a real light gear as any torque only enhanced the bouncing and was counterproductive, but the silly high cadence and silly looking bobbing absolutely sucked the life out of my legs. Couldn't quite tell if it was me humping the bike, or the bike humping me, but I got 20 miles worth of it, and wish I could say it was more pleasant, but it was miserable - felt like working twice as hard to go half as fast. I had resigned myself to being done at the halfway point by the time I got there, knowing there was no way I could pedal that setup another 50 miles, even if they'd been flat miles, and being fairly certain that my shock pump was back at the hotel room vs. in the car with Annie, and not even being confident that one would put a band aid on the situation. To you downhillers, I will no longer question your running shuttles and not pedaling those bikes up hills, I've come to a new understanding - it's flat out stupid. There is a happy ending to this, Riessen, whom I should have expected this from, had a shock pump at the aid station, the shock held air despite the missing cylinder, and I was able to get it rideable again, which would at least buy me a few more miles. *Portions of the course/lack of details provided to racers - may be a function of my legs being overdone by the time I got there, but for me, way too much hike a bike between aid 6 and 7, way too much. Went from thinking we had a cushion to running out of time on this section, which was just really slow going. It was somewhere in this section that I turned to the Zeph and told him I was starting to get pissed. Think I refer to this leg as "silly" in the video below. I let the lack of course details get to me a little at two places: First, looking for aid #5 to be around the 50 mile mark. Again, may be a function of the hurt I was in during that leg, and really just a head game I didn't manage well, but it was discouraging for me from mile 50 to 57 when it finally arrived. Second, finding out that the extended mileage it took to get to #5 wasn't credited to the ledger on the back half. This revelation came at aid #6, where we found out that aid #8 was around mile 92 vs. 84ish and that the race was 106/107 miles vs. around 1oo. Again, me not managing my head well, but having these details up front is useful in managing one's day from a pacing and feeding standpoint. I didn't have a problem with marking as others, many others, did, but having surprises about distances to important checkpoints (aid stations/cut offs) mid race was less than ideal for my fragile brain.

*Low cut socks - had developed a nasty blister fairly early in the race where my socks had crept down below the collar of my shoe, another self inflicted annoyance to learn from - luckily had a longer pair to change into at 5, but the damage was done.

*Location of aid #2 - had they moved this one just another 20 yards down the trail, the volunteers would have been treated to a morningful of entertainment watching the crashes that were going on there. We'd been told exactly what would happen there the night before at the race meeting. Uncanny how many of us it happened to, despite being told exactly how it would happen.

Some photos in no particular order and video of myself, Zeph, Tyler and Brandon finishing our day at aid #7.

Despite not finishing, the kids were still proud of us, or felt sorry their pathetic dad's, can't be sure which. Rolling out of aid #5
Brock helping with bottles at #5

Me and my savior, Erik Riessen at aid #5, his having a shock pump there and Cicely finding it for me (maybe it was the zeph's pump?) extended my day by almost 30 miles. He and Sam were the only two from our travel group that finished the 100. Kenny finished it in what I would call a real fast time. Shammytime Aaron finished 8th in the 50, despite riding a bunch more miles than 50 to get to the finish line.

Not sure what the joke is here, might be that nice rug I'm showing off which I've posted for you to admire.


Nate said...

nice story. I had a shock pump as well for future info. Im sure you will bring one next time. Your tough as nails man. So true about our ladies. The banana comment is hilarious!

Nate said...

Oh, and I dig the "pimp patch"