Stony Creek 6 Hour Race Stuff
Wow, the fourth race of the year already, but the first "real" race of the year in my opinion. Meaning it was the first endurance race of they year. Woot! Also the fourth race with ball suck weather.
1. Barry-Roubaix: Sunny and 20 freaking frozen nip degrees.
2. Yankee Springs XC TT: Cloudy, blowing snow, 32 degrees.
3. Rust Shaker XC: Cloudy, wet, 45 ish degrees.
4. Stony Creek 6 Hour: Rain, wind, low 50s.
But apparently such is life in Michigan. Anyway on to Stony Creek.
I pre registered this week for the race. Not to avoid long lines, or sold out races, but to insure that I would go to the race, because to tell you the truth waking up to temps under 50 degrees, blowing wind, and heavy rain Saturday morning would NOT have encouraged me to race. Being out $50 or whatever would. Of course these days it cost me $80 in gas to drive there. But one tries not to think of the ball suck part of the race life.
Four of us from MP were to go. Only 2 of us did. Me and Mike S. So we drove our asses down to Stony in the rain and wind, expecting the worst that the course could offer. To our surprise the Stony area did NOT get the same amount of rain we did up here and the trails were in fine shape. The muddiest trails were the flat ones were the water couldn't drain well. The single track was fine by me. Some people bitched, but not me. PA/WV mud would have them shitting their chamois'.
The fields for the 6 hour race weren't huge, but as luck would have it, the 40+ age group (which I sadly now qualify for) was the biggest with 17 starters. Prior to the race I met a blog reader from Cleveland who I now dub Cleveland Juan (because his name is Juan and he's from Cleveland), and got a chance to say hi to Mizz Musto getting ready to rock the 6 hour on her Ti El Mariachi (all the cool kids were riding Salsa Ti El Mariachis on Saturday, LOL!)
After changing in the muddiest park bathroom in the world and hoping that I wouldn't get some sort of disease in my chamois that would cause worms to grow in my... ah forget it, and a short pre race meeting, we were on the line and ready to go.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1... GO!
Everyone took off and I sort of, well... followed, and watched the asses of all the fast guys pull away. Fine by me. I never rode at Stony, and didn't know what to expect. Basically the course started flattish, then started climbing to the singletrack. The first section of singletrack was a twisty roller coaster that seemed to go on way to long. In a non race sitch I would have loved it, but for me and my inability to make good right turns in singletrack it was a real pain the buttocks. But I got used to it in due time.
It seemed like before I knew it I was racing alone. Occasionally I would pass or be passed, but for 80% of the race it seemed like I was racing alone. I did hook up with Cleveland Juan a couple times, and we had about the same pace. Dude has a nice pedal stroke, and it was fun to keep leap frogging with him.
The course reminded me a lot of a mix of Bavington and Boyce Park back in the 'Burgh. But with MAYBE (and surprisingly) a little more climbing. For every one part of the course I was not thrilled with there was another that was a blast to ride. On top of that there were plenty of double track sections to take a swig from the bottle and gel flask. That meant NO stupid CamelBak! SWEET!
Of course I could not do a race without an OMG! I'm Such an Idiot Moment. One section of single track had a narrow wooden bridge. As I made my way over it I got distracted by a something (this was 4? laps in, so it didn't take much 'look a bird!') I lost my focus, hit a tree with my shoulder and came to a stand still straddling my top tube with my nuggets, trying not to fall off the bridge into the swampy marsh. It took some doing, a quad cramp and the crushing of a testicle, but I did it and got back on and pedaling before anyone ever saw it. WIN! Of course I did just share it with the WWW., but then again only about 4 people (including me and Wifey) actually read this dross.
The race was odd in that the first lap I was good, the 2nd lap I was OK, the 3rd lap, I hated everyone, the 4th lap I was starting to do the math to plot my escape, especially when it started raining and I was getting sort of cold, the 5th lap, I knew I wanted to hit my personal goal of 6 laps, sucked it up a bit and pressed on, and the 6th lap I found my legs and had a great lap and a lot of fun! Funny how one can be motivated by the finish, and the promise of free hot pizza.
In the end I ended up with 7th place out of 17 with 6 laps (about 66 or 67 miles) in less than 6 hours. The race was more like the Stony Creek 5:30 since you couldn't go out for a lap after 7:30 PM. I scored a mini man purse (I mean small messenger bag), and a travel coffee mug for my efforts. I also got some Michigan Cup Endurance Series points. I did better than my mid pack goal, and felt fairly strong on the bike. My back still kills me every race, but I just try to ignore it.
The worst part, as it always is with lap races, is maintaining the will to continue on the SAME 11 miles over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Mind games are the trick- look forward to another singletrack sections, or making it back to the pit for a bite of Little Debbie and her tasty Oatmeal Pie goodness.
Given my health issues in the last few year (the multiple DVTs, weigh gain, other medications, etc.,) the 6 hour format/100 mile format (maybe) fits me best. As much as I totally respect the folks that do it and love reading about, the idea of doing a 12 or 24 hour lap race makes me want to stick my head in a bus full of naked, hairy, fat men on the way home from a Chili Cook-Off.
I ended up using the Ti El Mariachi for the race, and only regretted not having the Spearfish 2 or 3 times! LOL! Actually for this course the El M was the best choice. + all the work Napper at Terry Cycle (in Beautiful downtown Alma) did on the drive train paid off with little if any missed shift in the mud. Food wise I went through 2.5 bottles of Gatorade (the powdered continues to be the cheapest/best hydration), 2 flasks of Hammer Gel, and 1 Little Debbie Oatmeal Pie.
The best choice I made was having a fresh pair of gloves ready in the xB/pit area. The rain/humidity slicked up the first pair within 3 laps, and had my hands were like pruned hunks of stinky naked man flesh. Putting on dry gloves felt like heaven. I could have used BIT more chamois cream, and manscaping myself too much earlier in the week left me a bit irritated after 5.5 hours, but such is life as an Enduro-sexual.
Congrats to my friend Mike S. who ended up in 5th. Well done. Nothing too big on tap for the coming week as Wifey is out of town on business leaving me as a full time single Dad type. Then Memorial Day weekend it's the Hanson Hills 100. Hope I got the legs for that one.
Really I am pretty happy with my performance. Sure I was NO threat for a win, but given my lack of inherent talent and love of all things hops and cheese I will take it. At this point in my racing life the goal is to JUST keep doing it and keep pointing out to myself (and others) why endurance mountain bike racing is so f*cking fun. Even when it hurts and you finish 7th.