Sunday, July 5, 2009

Testing the Legs Again

After several weeks of recovering from the parotid gland surgery on June 10th, I had to test my legs and endurance at the first annual 8-Hours of Independence race near Philomath, OR.

The first two weeks post-op were spent resting and recovering and doing some very easy spinning. Just last week I was starting to ramp things up again, heading out on a local 4.5 hour group road ride up and over Mt. Bachelor. After that ride I felt confident that I hadn't lost much in my endurance as I still felt pretty fresh at the end of the ride. The two days later joined the local "hammerfest" ride to test my speed/strength. The hammerfest ride is a 1.5 hour road ride that is essentially a race; actually faster than a race because the pace never lets up and the goal is to drop as many riders as possible. The honor was given to Mike Larsen today who dropped the hammer early on his TT bike. Not having done much high-end riding on the road I could tell my legs were lacking the power. By the 45min mark I couldn't hold the pace of the front group and dropped back in the second group. About 5 of us slowly chased knowing that the last 6 or so miles are climbing. I figured I could maintain a steady pace and attack on the climb and catch the leaders. Felt good on the final climbs, picking off several lead group riders, and almost catching the lead riders. Another solid ride on the bike that gave me confidence to compete in the 8 Hours of Independence race this weekend.

The race course was 6.5 miles with 1100 ft. of climbing per lap. The course consisted of some rolling terrain early then some super fast winding descents, followed by a long technical steep climb. One of the factors to be considered for the event was the temperature. With highs nearing 96 degrees, cramps were sure to play into effect.

Nearly 60 riders toed the line to start what I am sure will become a popular event in years to come. Mike Ripley keeps pouring out stellar events that suites the Beginner to Pro. The race started at 10AM and was to finish at 6PM. No laps finishing after 6PM would be counted. Logistics always play a role in the multi-lap format races. I set the pace early riding conservatively due to the heat. By 15 min. into the first lap I found myself riding alone. Lap times were pretty short as I finished my first lap in 36 min. By the halfway point I had a 12 min. lead on Chris Brandt. I maintained the lead at right around 10 min. for the remaining 2.5 hours. By 4:30PM I started to feel the effects of the heat as my legs began to cramp a little. I had just finished my 10th lap, grabbed my fuel and headed back out for what I thought might be my last lap. At this point my lap times had slowed to about 42 min. and still had about a 6min. lead. During this lap I was suffering more cramps and noticed my energy getting zapped. I crossed the finish at 5:12PM.

So now the logistics come into play. Trying to do the math and gauge how far back Chris was I waited for a few minutes. I figured if he didn't show by 5:20PM that there would be no need for me to head out for another lap. Well he turned in a pretty hot lap and came thru at 5:16PM. He was going out for his final lap and I had to as well. Fighting leg cramps the entire lap I knew I wouldn't be able to beat him on this lap, so I had to hope that he would finish after 6PM. As it turned out he crossed the line at 5:52PM and I came across at 5:59PM. Each of us rode 12 laps totaling 13,200 ft. of climbing for the full 8 hours, and a total of 78 miles.
Comparing this race to the first two 100-mile races I have done this season, I would rank this one above the others in the technical climbing category.

It's frustrating to lose the race on the final lap but I have to congratulate Chris for his efforts.

Here is a race report from the race director Mike:
"Race Summary: Hot…….and cool in the shade on this 1st 8 Hrs of Independence. 60 Riders lined up to battle it out on a fast and somewhat technical course that provided some steep ups and fast and flowing sections of trails. Riders from Pheonix, Davis CA, and BC lined up to battle some of Oregons local Hot shots. From the start Sloane Anderson (PureEnergy-ProAir/HF) took a 2 minute first lap advantage and from then took the pace higher to separate himself from Chris Brandt (Team Dirt) and Mike and Andy Traslin (Steed Cycle Pennywise) from BC by up to 12 minutes. Laps went by at a sub 40 minute pace for most of the day with Anderson holding off Brant by up to 12 minutes, with Chris upping his lead on Third Place Mike Traslin by 10 minutes by lap 9. Lap 11 at after 4pm Andersons pace slowed and at the lap point at 5:14 with Sloane at the lap point the guessing game started as to how much time he had given back to Brandt and would either of them have enough to finish before 6pm to make the last lap count. 2 minutes Later Chris Brandt came Charging through exclaiming ” Are we we still racing or What! ” The battle was on….first for Brant to beat Anderson on the last lap and second to finish by 6pm in order to win the race. At 5:51 Chris Brandt crossed the Finish line to Win his first Pro event with 12 Laps to Sloane Andersons 12 at 5:58 and Mike Traslin in Third and Andy Traslin in 4th in the Pro Field".