Part 1 - Summer Epic 8 Hour
July 23 saw myself and Kiwi Lisa heading down Hardwood Hills for the second 8 Hour MTB race this year. I was planning on focusing on these endurance races and had started the year well after winning the first one. There are tons of fast guys both over and under 40 y/o at these events so I had no real allusions of winning again but definitely was shooting for podium and would be unhappy with anything less than top 5.
Got to stay at a friend of mine who is a mechanic at the shop there and lives about ½ km from the course so that was great. Was feeling reasonably well and fit and the weather was perfect, no rain, warm and humid with some cloud cover.
I took the first few laps of this race at a slower pace than the Spring 8 hour and was suffering from an increasingly painful headache. I hoped that it was just the sweatgutR headband I was wearing (perhaps too tightly) and was relived after removing it and ingesting an advil. Next bunch of laps went well and steady and I thought I was in top 2 having not been passed and being told earlier that I was 4th overall. Stopped to grab a perogie, pepperoni and a peach (perhaps not the best combo) after about 5 laps. I’ve come to discover that 24 hr race food and 8 hr race food have different purposes and therefore should be different items....I am unfortunately still in 24 hr mindset and most of the food I had was not really what I would want or need over the course of a much faster paced 8 hr.
Up til about the 5 hr mark things were going pretty well and steady, tho I kept missing salt intake each time I briefly stopped in the pit, even tho telling myself specifically to get salt as I was felling twinges in my right quad/ham. Then my stomach started to give me some grief...(I was later to discover that the rest of the pepperoni in my food had some foreign whiteish matter growing on it....I’m thinkin’ that did NOT bode well for Mike’s tummy!!). Slowed down a bit and finally got some salts in but it was a bit too little too late. Tanya had just told me that I was in 3rd which had me a bit discouraged as I thought I was higher and started to get a bit desperate in worrying about hanging in third. By this time the twinges had become full blown cramps...spinning did not help on some of the hills...tho strangely on some of the steeper punchier hills actually standing and mashing letting gravity do 90% of the work seemed to be less conducive to cramping. But along came another adversity.... My long awaited Specialized shoes...mostly awesome BUT, they have this plastic part which anchors the non-latching side of the buckle and it is place (anatomically on me anyway) right at a boney protrusion on the inside of my foot above the arch. There is no real padding on the inside of the shoe to protect and by hour 6 this was causing severe pain as this plastic part squeezed against that bone like a vise. That problem was getting worse, and then hotspots on my feet at the cleats started. Again new pedals and cleats (SPD’s for the first time) so perhaps the surface area is a little different. The next little bit of adversity to hit was when I pulled off my shades to wipe my eyes and the rubber ear piece somehow came off leaving just the skinny wire of the frame to secure to my head. Needless to say this is not terribly secure and the glasses kept slipping around as I had to constantly adjust their positioning due to the lack of rubbery grippage.
By now I was mentally in survival mode and at lap 10 I was still in 3rd, however at lap 11 I got passed and we were playing leapfrog fro a while which left me harried in the pit stops looking around for my competitor .....and thusly not fueling ideally. I was fighting to survive an not loose any more places when the unthinkable happened...and I have no idea how. I got passed halfway through lap 13....I know I was struggling but seriously I was at least 20minutes or more ahead of this guy in the middle of the race. His final few lap times were fast beyond belief, not just a factor of me slowing, not sure how this was humanly possible but it left a bad and confused taste in my mouth....there was just no way his lap times made sense !!
In the end I finished 5th, still extremely respectable, especially given all my adverse issues, but I was not terribly excited about it all. My body was in the throes of some intensely painful cramping for the ensuing 30-40 minutes, and I’m sure some people were wondering if they should get medical help for me. Finally it all cleared and after some rest and food, and later beers and fantastic ribs a’ la Ben followed by a special screening of “Dawn of the Dead”, I felt a little less zombified.
For those of you “younger” old guys, let me tell you it does not get any easier once you become an “older” old guy. My time for 5th place out of 38 in 40+ would actually have been 4th of 32 in under 40. 8th out of 90 solos overall was the final - and still quite respectable - tally.
For more race oriented reports check the Vegan Vagabond’s report here.....and Kiwi Lisa’s here.
Next part to be continued.....Wilderness 101...