Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Eyes on the Prize - Amelia 60 Report

As the countdown to the Whiskey 50 continues there's been some solid training in the legs, so it was time for another test event. Alex is back in hiatus stage, so would just be me out this weekend. While Santos was just to test the waters and get back into live action. The Amelia 60 would be a true test of my progress and mindset to see where I really stood. 10 laps of Amelia are typically relentless on the body and challenging for the mind. The race loop was punchy or flowy, but you're always pedaling. Sometimes full effort to make it up a short steep climb, others pedaling at tempo at the endless flowing fast turns. Easy enough to recover, but sneaky enough to burn out your legs as the laps wear on. Add passing the pit area 10 times, and any doubts can be magnified where you could just say "enough" if you're having a bad day. The goal was find my pace and ride my own race. Don't blow up, don't cramp, focus on nutrition and hydration and don't quit.

Race start came and I wasn't worried about positioning. I knew there was a mix of teams and open riders that were going to be on a much faster pace than me. As we got started I settled into a train of smooth riders I was familiar with for the first 10 minutes or so. We made it past the challenging opening sections and into the flow when a bottleneck from catching some slower riders caught me at the worst time, and I was forced to bail mid climb and ultimately tumble down the hill. I popped up quickly and got rolling again, but the train was gone and I was solo. I didn't worry too much about chasing back, but I was regretting my decision to start off easy. Maybe next time I'll press a little more to get ahead early.

After the fall I found my pace and was pretty pleased. Lap after lap I was ticking times all within one minute of each other. About two-thirds of the race had passed when I finally started slowing. At the start of lap 7 I was getting some heavy legs. Good thing was that while the pace was down, I wasn't struggling to get around the trail. Kept chugging along, knowing I was close to the end. Realistically I had 9 laps in me as the team leaders had already passed me earlier. I knew it would be close but I was determined to make it to lap 9. Unfortunately I wasn't determined enough apparently. Good friend Damien Serrania came blasting by not even two minutes from the end of the lap. Cutoff for the race was determined on the overall winner. Once they were done, everyone was done when they finished their lap. Guess who the race winner was? Damien and his team. I watched him cross the line and came though behind him seconds later, and had Dave from Gone Riding telling me I was done. Just missed it....

Finished with 48 miles on the day.  Could I have ridden with a little more urgency?  Possibly, but the fitness was there and I'm looking forward to the next 6 weeks. Thanks to Jonathan Perez from @playing_bikes (Your Custom Pactimo source!) for letting me pit in his tent space too! Next event will be the big one in Arizona. I'll try to get more pictures and videos for that one. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 1, 2019

2019 in Progress!

If you've been following along on with us on Facebook you'll know 2019's major goal is the Whiskey Off Road in Arizona! 50 miles in the beautiful Arizona desert terrain with close to 7000 feet of climbing? Sounds like a dream to me!

When the decision was made in December, we had to get right to business adding the Santos 12 Hour event to the calendar. The February timing was perfect as would have a few weeks to start preparing. Having ridden the trails but never been to the event, I heard it was half race and half party. We'd be camping out at the venue and only racing the 6 Hour event so we'd definiltey have plenty of time for shenanigans.

The race started off LeMans style with a 300m dash to our bikes. I managed to find a well placed and firm vine to prop my bike up, but it was a bit further down the row. Alex would set up his bike in a perfect spot a the start of the bike drop. Who's strategy would win out?? The run started straight up an incline so I didn't have any reason to go all out, but I did manage to ultimately hop on the bike in front of Alex, but only by two riders! We settled into the madness of a mass start and tried to stay out of trouble.

After a short opening loop, the 9 mile course would break up into a technical section with short punchy climbs that would simply kill the legs, then fast and flowy for a few miles, followed by a milder technical and choppy section into the finish area. A flaming boost jump is traditionally added for fun along the pit row by spectators, adding a final challenge at the finish line. It's completely optional, but race time bravery often gets people out of their comfort zone. The jump is quite simple and small by MTB standards, but it's still known to catch a tired rider out with silly crashes. Gotta pay to play sometimes, right? Luckily I survived each attempt unscathed. My modest jump style drew courtesy applause, but they definitely weren't going to remember me.

Fast forward to 3 hours in. I was cooked. Legs didn't really have the miles for the event and started cramping. I went out to start a 4th lap and nearly stalled going up two power climbs at the beginning of the loop. At this point it wasn't safe and I called it a day. Alex had shown up just for the fun and riding so he wrapped up slightly earlier in the day. Fun was had. Solid training on the day and came out unscathed. Time for camping, cooking and recovery beer!

We enjoyed the event and will definitely come with more focus again next year. Took a few pics and vids, not a ton, but enough to get a vibe for the great event. Up next is the Amelia 60 in March. Training has been progressing so expecting better results out of this one! Come back soon for more updates.