Monday, August 24, 2009

darkhorse 40

While I have not been racing bicycles much this year I have made an effort to attend a few, select, events. Aside from my India Expedition in April the criteria has been 'local events' when I do choose to compete.

Mike and the crew at Darkhorse Cycles over in southern NY state have traditionally hosted wonderful, smooth operating, events. I had a blast at this years 1st annual SingleSpeed-A-Polooza (also promised Mike I'd be back for the 40). I have participated in the Darkhorse 40 a few times in its 7 year existence. 2006 and 2007 with a skip of 2008 for some reason (can not remember why I opted out in '08). Well, 2009 I'm back and made an effort to attend. Mike, consider yourself special seeing as I have been very choosy in which events I attend in 2009. hahaha.

Leading up to the Darkhorse temperatures were climbing and humidity was through the roof. Typical East Coast in the summer. Saturday I spent the day doing odds and ends around the house (laundry, mowing the lawn, etc..). Tried to not be inside in the air conditioning so I'd get used to the heat (I sit in a freezer of an office during the week so hot to cold and cold to hot does not agree well with me). Had a good dinner and went to bed early. Awake and on the road by 5:30am with an arrival at Stewart Forest around 7:30am. Race start at 9am. Plenty of time.

Due to the massive amounts of rain we have received over the course of this spring and summer the typical two twenty mile lap format has been changed to four ten mile laps. While I typically frown at many, many, lap races I was chipper about this one due to the dry trails. Yes, I said it. Dry trails. I haven't ridden on dry trails in months. The Darkhorse 40 brought that to the table! kick ass!

Knowing the course format I opted to go with water bottles rather than my hydrapak. Ginger was wonderful enough to pass me new bottles each lap (thanks!). Drinking bottles on a course 98% comprised of singletrack would be tough but I felt it was worthwhile rather than lugging around a heavy, hot, backpack in the heat.

Oh yeah, Race would go on throughout the hottest part of the day with temperatures pushing the mid 90s (Fahrenheit). Ouch! It was so hot that even at 8am while I was changing I was sweating. Just standing there!

Yeah. not a big fan of the heat but I knew my life would get cooler after the race. Four hours of suffering in the heat ain't nothing knowing I'd spent four plus hours on (and in) the water of Candlewood Lake afterwards. You jealous now?

The Cat 1 singlespeed field was stacked with many riders and many top notch riders including some that hold pro racing licenses. I've got the Ghostship Edition 1FG 29er which I'm still dialing my fit in on. Gonna be a good time.

9am: Race is off!

David, Thom, Ray and James (r to l).

I'm just slightly behind them

I had a pretty decent start and five miles into the first lap I realized I need to slow down a bit. In races like this (what I like to call 'shorter events') I get caught up in what's going on and forget to ride at 'my own pace' rather than everyone else's. I settled down into my pace and just kept on riding. Tried to be consistent. Lucky for me there weren't too many people in front of me so I didn't get caught up in 'traffic' until the end of lap three and beginning of lap four. Saw Parsons on the side of the trail. Also saw James Harmon on the side of the trail. They later passed me early on lap two.

Going into lap two Ginger gave me two more bottles as I tossed her the two bottles I finished. Said something about how I was in the top 5 Singlespeed. Cool, but I told myself to just keep on riding how I'm doing and the results will fall out as they do. Lap two was my best lap. I felt great and rode smooth and fluently. Rode with David Lyons for a bit. haven't seen him in a while. We were both cursing our 34x18 gear choice (54.8inches). He eventually pulled away and I didn't see him again (don't see him in the results. guess he DNF'd?).

Saw Andrew Crooks from NYC Velo a few times. He was rocking a rigid singlespeed in the Pro field. I think he may have flatted but when he did pass me he was moving at a decent clip. I probably could have been riding faster but lack of riding/training/whatever you call it and the heat were keeping me at the pace I rode. Ate a package of Shot Bloks and a gel and three electrolytes per lap thus far.

Finished lap two with only one bottle empty. Hmm. This isn't good. I have been budgeting two bottles per lap (I drink a lot and 90+ heat I need more drink). Swapped one bottle with Ginger as I entered lap three and the quad cramps set in. Fawk. I was able to ride it out (this time) and keep everything tame. Still got up the climbs and the steeper ones I ran like on the previous laps. By the end of lap three I was starting to fade but still felt okay. Lap three wasn't as clean (in my opinion) as lap two but I still felt good. Caught lapped traffic in the last three miles of lap three. That made me work harder to get around everyone. It sucked energy from me but everyone seemed cool and let me pass without any fuss.

photo: GTLuke of

photo: GTLuke of

Check out his photos over here.

I noticed after looking through his photos that I was one of the few with their fingers no where near the brake levers. Even fast guys like Thom and Sean have the vulcan death grip on their brake levers. Are you really that fast? Or am I just that insane? Perhaps it takes some radical descents in Costa Rica with cows and trucks on the road to overcome the brake lever fear? Or Indian descents were you can come around a corner and encounter a truckload of bamboo?

Anyways, Finished lap three with two bottles empty, one package of shot bloks and a gel in the stomach. Saw lots of people done racing (like Monty, Jessie, etc..). I didn't think I was riding that slow and didn't recall them passing me. Later found out that Jesse hit a tree and broke his carbon Cannondale in half (look at headtube):

Got two more bottles from Ginger, made some comment about how friggen difficult it is, and somehow (with her persuasion) started lap four. She said I fell back and was around 6th or 7th.

Even Sean needed a pep-talk from Scotty to start and complete his fourth lap:

Sure enough, cramps again but this time my calves were acting up as well as my hip flexors (I think.. outer muscles on my thighs). Oh, yeah, and the quads as previously. I had great difficulties riding out of this one and my pace slowed down significantly. Emile caught up to me and we rode together for a bit. He told me he broke his Niner frame. In the exact same spot as where I broke my Vicious. Interesting seeing as he was with me when I broke my frame and he was the first one to see the crack. I actually laughed when he told me even though I probably shouldn't have. He flatted and I kept on going. A few other SSrs caught up to me and passed me with three to four miles left. They passed me at a pace I was able to sustain earlier but not with 35miles into a very hot race. Damn. Wish I could have hung on but I was in survival mode. Emile caught up and passed me. Double damn.

I finished in 4hours flat. Good enough for 11th place SS. I'm happy with that. I haven't really done much riding (or even racing) in preparation (working 50hrs a week) and have been switching bicycles like I switch sneakers this summer between breaking parts/frames, borrowing and dialing in my fit on my new 1FG. Definitely not in the shape I was back in April/May but its all good. I had fun and didn't get a dehydration headache. I was happy with my riding and that is what counts!

Johan finished the race without a rear tire!

Mike's chasing Thom around after he finished.

Did I say it was hot? This was taken right after I finished the race. Dead.

I drank almost two gallons of water between warming up for the race and the race itself. I ate a ton of food during the race. I finished with quite an upset stomach. Guess I still haven't figured out nutrition for shorter races (seem to have it dialed in for 100milers and multi-day events). Cleaned up. Grabbed a Popsicle (yes. popsicles were in full effect!). Stayed away from the food (sorry guys) since I was not feeling the desire to eat with a bloated stomach. Said thanks/bye/chatted about next year with Mike and we hit the road. Spent the rest of the afternoon on Candlewood Lake here in CT with Ginger's family. The cold water was a godsend.

agh. rest on the water. Just what the doctor ordered after a 4hour expenditure in insane heat.

Thank You Mike and all the fine folks at Darkhorse Cycles! Thank You Ginger and all the other volunteers! The 7th annual Darkhorse 40 was a blast even though I didn't stay long for the post-race festivities. I am definitely putting this event on next year's list. You should too!


Blogger Darkhorse Cycles said...

thanks for the positive vibes! glad you could come on down to our little sweatfest!! always good to see you and ginger!

8/25/2009 4:25 PM  

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