Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Capitol Forest 50 race report

Damn, what can I say other than the fact that riding (yet alone racing) in the Capitol Forest area is still at the top of my list as "best places to ride your bike".  I was looking forward to this race for a few months because     when I lived in Seattle I used to ride down there a lot.

Capitol Forest is located in Washington State just south of Olympia, WA.  You exit off I-5 at exit 95 and head towards the town of Littlerock.  Another 5-10 minutes and you reach the pristine forest known as Capitol Forest which is full of pure singletrack.  Of the 50 miles included in the race, 43 were on singletrack trail that was just wider than handlebar width.  I didn't remember the trails like I thought I would so each switchback and descent was foreign.  The forest is so dense that at times it was difficult to see more than 5 feet in front of you.  I opted to wear sunglasses (as opposed to clear lenses), and there was a moment in the beginning of the race I couldn't see anything except the riders' white jersey in front of me.  Scary, but fun!

The race was staged at the Evergreen Sportman's Club.  Jenny and I drove up on Friday and spent the night with her folks in Covington, WA which turned out to be just over an hours drive away.  Left the house at 6:30am (hot coffee in the cup holder) and arrived at 7:50am.  This was definitely later than I was hoping.  The temps were chilly (low 60's) but sunny and humid.  After a short warm up I headed to the start line.

start of the race

As a result of a short warm up, I didn't get as good a start as I would have liked.  The race began with a short road/gravel section before reaching the singletrack.  I entered the singletrack section in 4th position, and because it was so narrow there was no room to pass.  After a few miles I could see 2 riders in front getting a little gap on the rider in front of me.  I wanted to pass, but couldn't.  At the first opportunity I was able to get around and begin my chase of the 2 leaders.  I quickly caught 1 rider but didn't know how far the leader was ahead.  We slowly climbed, sections exposed to the sun and others in deep forest.  The trails were so sweet, and most of it was rolling terrain so keeping your speed high was easy.  After some more miles, we came to a clearing and I could see the rider in the lead (Logan Wetzel) a short distance in front.

As we approached Aid Station #2 I had caught up to him but he didn't stop and I did.  I was stopping at each Aid Station to refuel and it was costing me time.  I lost sight of him after the Aid Station and had been caught by the rider behind me.  Since their was no "bag drop" for the 50 milers (stashing items in a bag to be picked up at Aid Stations) I had to stop at refuel each time.  It seemed like Logan had someone in the Aid Stations handing him bottles to save him from having to stop. More singletrack miles ticked away, and each mile I was reminded just how damn good the riding is here.  The course was much dryer than I expected, it seemed like every time I rode down here it was always wet and muddy.  The start was a bit dusty, but as we climbed higher and rode deeper in the forest the trails were perfect tacky dirt.  Much of the course was smooth, but also included plenty of roots and rocks.

Around Aid Station #4 (mile 27), we began a 7 mile fireroad climb.  It wasn't until about mile 31 that I could see Logan up ahead.  I could tell I was gaining ground on the climb.  At mile 34 we entered back into the singletrack and the remaining 16 miles would be some of the best singletrack around.  I didn't know how far behind Logan I was at this point, so I just put my head down and tried to push it as hard as I could.  Having some fatigue still in the legs from the Breck Epic I could tell they were starting to get a little tired, especially on the steeper climbing sections.   There was a climb around mile 40 that seemed to really slow things down.  I felt like I was crawling along and every time I looked down at the odometer it seemed to say the same thing.  The last 10 miles of the race were rough.  When I crossed the line I thought I was only a few minutes behind Logan, but I checked the results to day and saw that I was just 7 minutes behind.  He's a strong rider and rode a good race.

Results here

To go along with a great event venue, the crew at 4th Dimension Racing know how to keep you feeling happy after a hard day in the saddle.  There was a huge post-race feed of burgers, pizza, beer, and other snacks...and a live band.  All in all a fun day on the bike and a reminder of why I love to ride at Capitol Forest.

After some grubbing and hanging out with some old friends, I was off to Seattle for a wedding.  Trying to "make good time" in the Seattle traffic is never a good thing.  After picking Jenny up at Southcenter Mall (probably the busiest mall in the Northwest) we were on our way with minimal time to spare.  Ahhhhhhhh!!!

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