Have a super awesome wife that gives me the go ahead to do back to back 7hour plus drives/weekends away from the family – Check.
Register for Whiskey 50 and SRAM Tour of the Gila – Check.
Months of physical and mental training - Check.
Stomach Bug and Cold week of Whiskey 50 – ARGGGHhh.
I was looking forward to racing the Whiskey 50 for the past two years and finally decided this year was a go. A week before the race we had a dust cloud roll through Durango and I ended up with the common cold. I thought to myself, this is ok, you will be over this by race time. It turns out that not only did I get a cold but I also had a stomach bug. I felt much better Thursday before the race and decided to make a go of it, only when I got home to pack I felt terrible again. Friday morning I felt amazing and drove to Prescott (7 hours), prepped my bike for Saturday morning and was excited to race. Friday night the stomach issues returned and on Saturday morning there was no chance I was riding my bike 50′ let alone 50 miles. I made the best of it and cheered friends on from Skull Valley.
One thing I noticed as I slowly walked around the venue and talked to friends, Stans wheels were everywhere! The friends I was staying with race on the Epic Endurance cycling team and all of them were running Stans NoTubes wheels. It was great to talk to them and hear stories about how these wheels saved their butts in races when they heard a hiss from their wheels only to see a little sealant seep out and the hissing disappear.
Sitting in Skull valley it was quite depressing watching others race the race I had waited so long for. My thoughts were lightened when I saw Kenny Wehn coming down the road in 1st place sporting his NoTubes Elite Master’s jersey. Joe Burtoni rode by in the same outfit with a huge smile on his face, was great to see him having such a great time. My friend Kelly came through and was very happy with his performance so far, it’s always great to see fellow racers having a great race and a smile on their face. I told myself, next year the smile will be on my face as well…packed up my stuff and headed back to my family to rest up and hopefully be ready for Gila.
SRAM Tour of the Gila
I was very nervous about whether or not my body would be recovered for four days of road racing. I dropped my bike off with Pete Shirk @ Cottonwood Cycles for some brand new tubeless rubber and to stitch a powertap into my Stans Alpha 340 wheelset that I had used for cycle-cross. The guys at Cottonwood cleaned up my bike, stiched in the powertap, put the tires on and filled them with Stans Sealent and sent me on my way. I stopped in ABQ to ride with a friend and do openers. One thing I noticed right away was how much smoother my bike was riding with my new tubeless setup…on to Silver City, NM I went confident my bike was ready to perform…but was I?
Day 1: Road Race
I parked my truck, hopped out, noticed immediately the guy I parked next to was running Stans wheels. I mentioned that I had just set mine up and hadn’t had much time to test them out, he said he has been running them for 2 years now without a single issue and absolutely loves them…great to hear!
The race started out on a downhill and then began to go up, I noticed that myself and two others were not with about 19 riders that had put a little bit of space on us on the first climb. I told them if they want to catch the group they should grab my wheel now because I’m closing the gap….I did just that. Ten minutes later I began to cramp, was it from putting out so much power and not warming up properly or was it from my lack of nutrition due to dropping 5lbs with a stomach bug? I was able to maintain the pace of the main group, until the last of the climbing started.
I finished 16 minutes back on day 1 but I was just happy to be racing and not completely cramped up in a ball.
Day 2: Time Trial
I will keep this short, started feeling my legs trying to cramp only 12 minutes in. The cramps combined with no aero made for one hard TT, winds were in my face going out and changed to stay in my face coming back…not cool. The course included some very rough road which I just rolled over, my wheels did a great job even though I thought my bike would explode
Day 3: Criterium
My legs felt much better on Day 3 and had no signs of wanting to cramp, I held the corners great with slightly less pressure in my wheels for better corning (couldn’t have done that with the ole wheels and tubes). My goal was to finish with the pack and not cramp so I could “roll” into day 4 strong…goal completed. Finished with the group.
Day 4: The Gila Monster!!!!
I went into Day 4 very nervous. This was the hardest stage of the race and I was going in fairly beat down. 3 days of racing, a week of being sick and only 2 days of recovery, I thought I may cramp or just explode into the nether. It turns out that as the days went on my body was recovering, at this point I am fairly certain my cramps were due to my lack of nutrition from being sick.
The Gila Monster which I had thought would be very brutal to me, ended up putting the biggest smile on my face of the past two weeks (besides my beautiful wife and adorable daughter of course). I raced with the group up past the copper mine and down NM152, our race was stopped for a few minutes while the Pro Peleton went flying by, up to the continental divide we went, I slowed down and grabbed a water bottle at the feed zone only to realize that in road racing anything goes and you will get dropped in the feed zone! The feed zone was 20 yards from the top of the continental divide and the people who grabbed water first sprinted in order to drop those less fortunate. A little disappointed, I tried to chase back. Two groups had formed, one of about 12 riders in front and another of about 10 riders behind. After 2 miles of chasing the 10 rider group and not gaining ground I decided to back off and save some energy for the long climb I had ahead….very glad I did that. I also told myself that this is all training for USAC MTB Nationals, this calmed me down and made me enjoy the rest of the race.
I made it up the climb I thought I would explode on, went down through another valley and found a 2nd wind. I climbed towards the finish line very strong..so I thought. I approached the 200m sign and noticed a car coming behind me followed by 2 riders going quite fast, they cruised by me going up a steep hill, surely doing over 20mph and the crowd cheered. These were the Master Men A’s racing to the finish. I looked at the crowd next to me and with my keen sense of humor said, “Well whatever bear is chasing them, he isn’t chasing me.” They all cracked up and I continued on… I crossed the finish line, grabbed some hydration and a banana, telling myself. ”I can’t wait until next year!”
You can train as hard as possible for months and end up not being able to take advantage of that training. However, in the end if you put a smile on your face and remember you are out there for the fun of it you will never have a bad day.