May 27, 2008

A tale of two tails...

Standing on a balance ballI'll get to the title of this post in a moment. For now you can amuse and amaze yourself by pretending that it's you standing on top of a balance ball while fishing into your pocket to try and get your iPhone so you can take a picture for your friends. Go on, look down at the ball, does it feel all wobbly, ok sure they aren't YOUR feet but they could be, are you dizzy yet? ;-)

I've been working on getting to this point for a few weeks, it started as a little pet project with the normal core work and once I decided to do it, well that was it, it was game on. I know it's probably not that impressive compared to what others can do on the ball but I'm pretty happy about it. Now I feel fairly confident moving around on the ball. Please don't email me any links to show some guy hopping up and down on one foot, I'm sure it can be done but I don't want to see it, 'cause you know it'll just consume me until I can do it.

Right, with the weird fact for the day now completed I can get on with other stuff... like what's been going on with training for 24hrs Solo Worlds in Canmore. All things considered training is going fairly well. I'm starting to get some quality saddle time in and am starting to feel pretty good on the bike.

Guts n Glory

So when a 12hr solo bike event popped up on the radar last week and it just happened to be real close to San Antonio (which we were planning to visit on the long weekend - weird coincidence - the same long weekend of the race) I didn't have to think about it a whole lot to know I wanted to get some dirt-time in. Doreen was keen for it so that was the green light for the "Guts n Glory" 12hr race at Flat Rock Ranch in Comfort, Texas.

Which saddleNow for the tale of two tails part, get it... tails. Anyway, since it was going to be a rough course and 12hrs on a rough course starts to get a bit irritating I decided to switch out the lightweight saddle on my Giant Trance 0 and put on my heavier saddle. I've ridden on the heavier one for years (yup, it's pretty beat up) and it's seen lots of long races now. So what's the big deal right, switch it out, who cares which saddle I run, right? Except for the fact that the old saddle weighs an extra 1/4 pound more than the skinnier one. My Giant is already a heavy bike but every time I add weight to it I get a shiver running down my back understanding what that means in the long races. More weight means more fatigue and harder to manipulate on the trail, manipulating the bike is really grueling on a long-haul technical course and Guts n Glory is fairly technical. With the Giant weighing in at over 28lbs, putting that extra 1/4 pound on the bike was tough but I know that saddle is 'da bomb in Ultra's, so on it went.

Now almost two days after the event and these are my thoughts...

It was a great course, just the right amount of stuff going on to keep it interesting. I got in some good climbing and a decent amount of vertical feet gained.

Guts n Glory 2 laps

The image above is courtesy of Eduardo Arguelles, one of the racers at the event and an all-around decent fella. I asked him to send me some data from his on-bike device and he sent me a two lap profile. Looks pretty jagged huh? Each one of those little jigs and jags equates to a lot of fun or a lot of hard work depending on whether the line goes up or down, now multiply that plot by two. ;-)

The tough part of the event was the weather, it was stinking hot, relentlessly hot, too hot, over 100 degrees hot. So hot that after setting a smart pace during the first 60 miles I simply got tired of poaching my egghead inside of my helmet and decided to sit in my transition pit to hang out with Doreen and the boys, for over an hour, just to do some thermal regulation. Here's an image that Doreen took of me it's pretty obvious I'm irritated by having to sit in the pit and relax.


Each lap after that got more pit time than I would normal assign just because of the heat, if the race would have been really important I would have ignored the heat and stayed out of the pit but it was an unplanned race/ride so not important enough. This race was no hotter than Solo Worlds in Laguna Seca last September so I knew I could hammer it in these conditions and that was the really hard part in this race, trying to stop myself from racing... I had a bit of internal argument going on while I was ripping around the course, repeat the next phrase with your tiniest and squeekiest voice; you should race it who cares how hot it is, you shouldn't be racing you should just be training you came here to train, race, train, race, train, race, train, etc. It's hard to listen to the smart little voice that says "ease the throttle back" but I'm glad I listened to that smart voice because today I feel great.


I think the best part of the weekend was the super-cool, laid back atmosphere. Tons of family feel to it, the boys had a total blast with different events setup for kids. This image shows Keegan "fishing" in the water slide, just one of the cool things setup for the kids to do. A big thanks goes out to the race organizers and the volunteers for looking after the family side of things! And to continue with the more laid back theme there weren't really any ultra-revved racer's twitching on the start line; on the "GO!" things didn't go off like a hand grenade (like the usually do down here), the pace up front was nice and steady and pretty relaxed all things considered (relaxed is a relative term, 90% of your lactic threshold still burns but when you aren't racing it feels uhmmmm, fun, am I weird? hahaha).

Hopefully one of the other fellas at the event (Len) can send me a couple of images from the day's events, they should be pretty funny, if I get them I'll post them up. For now, here's my stats:

- Four laps or approx 92 miles.
- Finish time, approx 11hrs 30mins.
- Time on bike, approx 9.5hrs.
- Vertical elevation gain, approx 10,500ft.
- Fluids consumed, a lot.
- Time spent gritting my teeth while not racing, is there a dentist in the house?
- I managed a second place finish, losing to a fit and fast racer from down south who rides real well and I'm ok with that (I'll get you Farmer, oooohhhhh yeah, I'll get you, haha).

If you are interested in seeing some of the course, here's an embedded YouTube video feed shot by someone a while ago. The image quality isn't great but you'll get the idea.

Having problems with the embedded file, try this YouTube link.

In a few days I'll post up about our trip to San Antonio. Until then you can keep coming back to this post and pretend you are standing on the balance ball, go on, you know you want to. ;-)


Eddie A. said...

great write up Shaun! im gonna try standing on that ball and take a pic... it was a great race! farmer and you are an inspiration when it comes to endurance racing, i think few people truly understand the kinds of questions that get asked out there in the middle of 12/24 hours, when the only company one has is our misery and craziness! hope to see you at the next one!

Shaun Taylor said...

Yeah Eddie, hope to see you later this year, maybe at the 48hr Solo???


John F said...

So I'm guessing that riding the tree portion and that rock climb are fairly relaxing in the dark right? :o

Shaun Taylor said...

Totally Zen. ;-)