Wednesday, November 21, 2018

2018 EnduraRace Dragon Slayer

TLDR: 3 laps. Start time 07:00. Finish time 5:15. Total time 10:15 (1 hour slower than last year). Single speed. 21st out of 41 3-lap Slayers. 138 folks finished at least one lap (holy crap!).

This year I rode my Vassago VerHauen with a 32x20. That gear is a bit short on the flats, but it's what I run for any tech. Lessons learned from SSing the GB, EB, CP, Thumper, etc. - walking technical is more demoralizing than spinning roadie sections is annoying. This years's race started off with a bit of banter; discussions of Make Out Point and how my absurd handlebar mustache does little to keep me warm but really gets other folks hot. The actual ride, however, devolved quickly into me figuring out that I'd be spending the next 10 hours off the back. Guys I usually ride with dropped me like a fat kid on a Huffy. I had zero power to put into the pedals, what the hell? That was about how the whole day went: the ride was hard (expected), the cramps weren't bad (unexpected), but the cold was rough. I dreaded the dam every lap b/c I'd end up shivering by the time I got off it. I'd get warmed back up in the rocks but the final 6 miles would chill me again. As far as the overall ride went, I wasn't standing on the gears on the climbs b/c that's how I threw my back out last year, so I did a fair bit of walking on the longer climbs. My pit stops were pretty quick, maybe 5 min each, mostly thanks to Infinit. If you're having issues with proper nutrition on long rides, check them out.

Let it be known now, I hate the cold. Anything under 50 degrees is usually a hard no-go for me. I certainly won't ride for training/fun and I tend to avoid winter races. However, the Dragon Slayer needed ridden, so I spent cash on a rather audacious Alarming Yellow Jacket and figured 'how bad could it be?'

Cold. It could be really damn cold. My core stayed pretty warm but my extremities were cold enough that my words weren't coming out right when I'd speak and I was having handling issues (lots of shoulder-checking trees).

Turns out, when I got home, I felt sick. Sore throat, etc. Initially, I figured it was just from huffing cold air for 10 hours but the wife took the kids to the doctor the next morning and turns out we have strep. So the chills I was experiencing had more to do with the fever and less than the temperature. It does kinda suck to know that, in the elastic of my shorts, I had 8 Advil and could have had a much different ride if I'd have realized that I had a low-grade fever. The next day I got a prescription for Penicillin, so in keeping with the ATX100k/EnduraRace theme of 'throwback to a better day' racing, I'll be dosing with an antibiotic that's been developing resistant strains since the 1920's! Fun.

On that note, it's really nice to see EnduraRace taking off. Not sure if you know, but back in 2011 (?) Todd posted to BikeMojo that he wanted to start a bike race series that wasn't geared towards cry-baby Stravatards, where all the B lines would be roped off, and where you'd be required to ride the gnarliest things we could find. Based on that premise, trying to take cross-country racing back to a proving ground for how good of an off-road rider you were and moving away from a test of roadie fitness, we created the ATX100k series. EnduraRace spawned from those early ATX100k races and learning experiences. We learned that folks don't want to know they'll finish; people want a real challenge. Riders seem to crave a setting where the risk is real and the outcome isn't predetermined. That you're going to get congratulated if you roll across the line, not just if you roll in top 3. The final ATX100k race that first year was held at Reveille Peak Ranch. 43 people started that race, only 3 finished. Coincidentally, one of the 3 finishers of that brutal race was the winner of this brutal race.
Johnny and the fam

Speaking of the devil, my boy Johnny 'Moto' Russell finished 2018's DS in 8:20 and had more than enough time to hang out with my family while they were waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for me to show up. Congrats man, awesome finish. Hopefully next year I'll be able to keep up a bit better :)

In all honesty, the 2018 Dragon Slayer was a rough time for me. After last year's Slayer, my back went out (pinched a nerve) leading to a pretty long recovery, physical therapy, etc. I'm basically 60 hours and 900 miles short on training this year. This year's triple really drove that home for me, with a bullet. Big plans for next year - stay healthy and ride my bike more.

Me with my rock & my kids with marshmallows.
Not sure who is happier ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

EB 2018

TLDR: Started at GB. 9:18 total time pumphouse to pumphouse.
Strava link:
Relive link:

2018 has been very rainy. The original EB date was postponed until November 3rd. The EB board made a call that the creek was still dangerous on the 3rd and postponed the ride until Jan 12th. Since I handle the cold about as well as Lindsey Lohan handles rehab, I decided to do it solo.

Jason and I were discussing doing solo rides (he rode the next day, the 3rd, so I got to win the EB for one day - thanks J...) and I got pretty freaked out about dying in commuter traffic. I made a spreadsheet that would tell me when I'd be in certain sections of the ride, depending on when I left and how long I figured the ride would take. It has further use, if you have a significant other or buddies who want to meet you along the ride, so I've shared it. Feel free to use it if you want.

I decided to do the EB from my house (basically the Pumphouse trail on the GB). I headed out at 7:10; it was just barely light enough to see the street in front of my house. Riding Pumphouse down was OK, but the lack of light made judging ledges a bit hard and I donked into a few simple ledge-ups while it was still fading dawn. Also, it was cold as balls (40s). I was, honestly, very worried about crossing the creek and getting wet in those temps. Turned out that the water was noticeably warmer than the air, which was nice (until I got out). The creek was down ~6 inches from the previous weekend and noticeably slower.

Traveling in commuter traffic turned out to be OK. The only issue was crossing to Courtyard on the other side of Pennybacker - I had to wait a good while for an opening. I was the only person at City Park, which was kinda cool. A tiny bit of mud but overall it was really nice. About mid-way through CP I started to be able to feel my toes and fingers which was also really nice ;).

I stopped at the firehouse on the way back for my first rest. Talked with a firefighter while I mixed up some Infinit. I've been using a custom formula for years and the results speak for themselves. I can ride for 24 hours and at the end I'm not even hungry. I do 1 serving every 1 hour, so the EB breaks up into 2 refuel stops for me (3 servings per 2.5L hydration bladder). Hopped back on the bike and booked over to St. Ed's. The St. Ed's climb is no longer a fitness/technical challenge, it's just fitness. Some good Samaritan has smoothed out all the ledges so you can just ride up them. Sad.

Rode back to Thumper, had to get off the road a few times to let cars pass. Drivers were very safe and respectful, I must say. Rode Yaupon all the way up. Thumper was a real beast. It's not like the trail has much flow anyway, but with all the timber in the trail getting into a rhythm was nearly impossible. I thought that Jason was kidding me when he told me that at one point I'd have to belly crawl, dragging my bike by the handlebars behind me - he wasn't. I felt GOOD in Thumper and my time was almost as bad as the time I considered setting an alarm and going to sleep...

Popped over to Walnut, stopping at the 7-11 @ Duval and Mopac for a gallon of water and mixed up my final servings of Infinit. Walnut was pretty deserted. I got a bit turned around at first trying to follow my Garmin until I realized that the route didn't seem to have the new sections. I ended up just doing the route I know and throwing in all the new sections I could remember. Wasn't really sure what the proper way to get over to the road was, so I just re-rode up Endo Valley to the high-line.

The road South to home was a trial in mental endurance. Spinning the 32x20, all alone, good lord. By the time I was entering the trails near Enfield, there was enough traffic that the feeder road folks were a bit jammed up and I felt pretty safe with their speed.

The final leg in the greenbelt was quick. The creek crossings were welcome, the chilly water felt nice on my legs by that point. Ended up hitting pumphouse @ the 9:18 mark.

One of the better Fridays I've spent, for sure. My total time 9:18, which is pretty damn slow, but I had a lot left in the tank. I guess, w/o extrinsic motivation, it's hard to keep on the gas. I should have gone harder, but I had a good day w/o pain or cramps which was nice.

The 2018 official EB Podium - overall AND single-speed. 

See y'all in January (as long as it's not freezing)...

Thursday, November 8, 2018

2017 Enchilada Buffet

So, apparently (it's November 2018) I never finished my ride report for the EB in 2017.

End result: 7th overall, 1st Single Speed. I'm pretty proud of that since I'd only started riding SS earlier that year and my back was out (it'd be a few more weeks before my back would take me out for a few months starting mid-November just after the Dragon Slayer)

Here are my notes, they're pretty poor but it is what it is.

Spin down. Holy crap. My bounciness was a topic of discussion at one stop light
BC - Bit of pain climbing out the back side. Saw the girls. Wonderful kids
Road. So sad but not as sad as I'd thought it would be.
Courtyard and CityPark. Walked but didn't loose much distance at all. Lesson here is don't kill yourself to make up time riding up road hills in granny.
CP - nice change of pace. Lots of folks lost plus one rather shiddy motorcycle.
Saw Gary. Hi gary.
Nate - St. Eds. Pulled me to Thumper
Guy in Thumper, British. Sorry
Guy from Thumper over to Walnut back and forth. Got lost on the bridge. Got lost in WC. Turns out the GPS isnt' all that helpful if you haven't ridden Walnut at least once recently.