Oct 24, 2008

A sort of 24hr race

Last weekend was the 24hrs of Dirt event. Like I mentioned in my last post - to race or not to race, that is the question (didn't Hamlet ask something like that?) and the answer is - not race.

Leading up to the race I got in some good trg, most of my time was spent on the road on my mtb. I was riding every opportunity I got, even heading out to (beer sections) local supermarkets to grab groceries. I can assure you, grabbing groceries on a bike is not typical here in Texas. ;-)


If the question about the weekend was “How did you do?” my simple answer is “I did great”. But, it’s a bittersweet great. I went up to the race to treat it as a trg block for my 48hr solo race on Nov 14th, I told everybody I could at the race to yell at me to slow down if it looked like I was going too fast, I wanted to achieve a certain level of workload and then stop. Before driving to the race I was concerned that if I got up in the race environment the competitive juices would start flowing and then it would be “game on”.


Pre-race briefing was well organized and looking around I recognized some faces, oh yeah the competitive juices were starting to get rolling now.

In order to calm down the testosterone I started the race off smart, letting a pile of people get ahead of me on the Le Mans-style running start, by the time I got on my bike there were a ton of other racers ahead of me and the racers around me were wearing t-shirts and running shoes. Eventually I got tired of riding that slow, so I began to amuse myself by picking off the riders in front of me one by one. Four hours later on a pit transition, Doreen told me I was 10mins behind first place, yikes, not where I wanted to be, I wasn’t supposed to be racing! That was a wake-up call, I didn’t even feel those first four hours, I felt so awesome, in fact I was just starting to warm up and was getting ready to turn up the heat (uhmmm, at this point I had totally blown my plan of not racing). As I was leaving my pit on each lap I would hear someone yell something like "go get 'em, bro" and that's exactly what I was doing, effortlessly. Into my fifth hour of racing I came tearing around a corner and closed the gap on a couple of solo expert racers and in about 10secs of conversation I learned I was lapping them, which put me over an hour ahead of them, I saw a clear opening on the trail and got around them, stood up out of the saddle and kicked in the afterburners and settled back into a grin-inducing awesome day for mtb racing groove, a couple of minutes later it struck me “what the heck am I doing, I’m supposed to be trg not racing!!!” so I locked up the brakes, leaned my bike against a tree, took my helmet off and laid back on the dirt, checked my stopwatch for 15mins and stared at the fluffy white clouds in the sky. Within a minute or two, the two racers I had passed came down the trail and asked as they rode by if I was ok, I just chuckled and said “perfect, thanks”.

I figured by giving up those 15mins I would move out of race mode and into trg mode, I also decided laying there that it was going to be my last lap for the day (that was a super-hard decision to make) and since it was going to be my last lap for the day I got back on my bike and dropped the hammer down to shred it up and maybe try to catch the other two solo racers I had let by. I eventually caught them, good thing they didn’t look back because I was drooling (literally) and sweat was flying everywhere, as I was waiting for a gap to get by them I got asked by one of them if I had crashed or something and my response was along the lines of “this is my last lap, once I get back I’m gonna hang out with my two boys, visit with other racers and do the stuff I never get to do at these kinds of events, then I’ll do a few more hours tomorrow morning” – that’s the last I saw of them. When I finished my last lap, 5:47 showed on the running clock and my PowerTap showed I had been racing on bike for 5:28 (I lost 15mins to staring at clouds and the rest was approx 1min per lap of pit transitions getting fresh bottles and high-fiving the boys and also having to stand a bit longer in the pit on one lap while Keegan explained how he had caught a grasshopper). Doreen was obviously freaked out that I was going to get off the bike to hang out with the family and actually be smart for a change, quite frankly I was a little surprised I managed to see a much bigger picture as well because at that point I held first place by an approx 15min lead (I didn't know it at the time) and was feeling great.

Lots of guys slapped me on the back and said “smart move”, it was good to check-in and hang out with some of the best (and fastest) racers in Texas particularly the four man crews representing Bike Lane and Bike Sport who were pounding out some savage laps.

I hung out with all the racers until 0300hrs, then went to bed and got up at sunrise to do some more hanging out, at 0830hrs I jumped back on the bike and pounded out 3hrs of back to back high intensity lapwork – it was an awesome morning, that unstoppable feeling, perfectly in the groove.

Though I didn’t get on the podium I’m pleased I stuck to a smart plan, additionally I got to shake a lot of hands and represent my shop in a fashion that I don’t get to do too often - do some racing and doing some socializing. There’s a lot of great riders in clubs/teams out there and it was refreshing to walk around in a Sugar Cycles t-shirt and be recognized as a racer and also part of a team.

In case anyone is interested here’s some data you can scratch your head on, just a slice of the immense amount of data collected from the weekend…

Saturday afternoon:

- 5 back to back laps at an avg of 65mins of riding time per lap
- Normalized Power average 178W for total time
- Peak power 864W (I thought it would be way higher, as I can push 1300W)
- Avg HR was 90% of my Lactate Threshold HR
- Avg cadence 72RPM
- Avg speed 10.1mph
- Carrying momentum via no wattage, i.e. no pedaling (surge effort up to speed and then carrying through the twisties at a neutral pedal position using max manageable momentum) was 16.7%

Sunday morning:

- 3 back to back laps at an avg of sub-1hr of riding time per lap
- Normalized Power average 199W for total time
- Peak power 824W (again, surprisingly low requirement)
- Avg HR was 91% of my Lactate Threshold HR
- Avg cadence 75RPM
- Avg speed 11.2mph
- Carrying momentum via no wattage, i.e. no pedaling (surge effort up to speed and then carrying through the twisties at a neutral pedal position using max manageable momentum) was 17.2%

Of course all that data is simply a reflection of the course I was on and not a true indication of what I would do on every course out there. To put the data into context, this year the second fastest four man team put in 24 laps using 25hrs+, or approx 65min laps. The fastest four man team put in 26 laps using 25+hrs, or just-under 1hr laps.

I think the highlight for me this weekend was getting to sit around in different pits and hang out a bit with guys who are way faster racers than me and also getting to shake hands and chat with racers that are equally as passionate about cycling. Last year this race was the first one I did when we had just arrived in Texas, I pounded out 17 laps and managed a 2nd place finish to Greg Parham who beat me by 5mins, I didn't know anyone and raced as "Team Taylor" pretty funny looking back at it. One year later, at this awards ceremony I was lucky enough to end up sitting with Wink and Ric Tinney for a while, two racers I have a great amount of respect for, there were a few laughs and some casual chat it was a moment that put the year into perspective for me. As a outsider (at one time), looking in, Texas should be proud of it's mountain bike race scene; there's some crazy fast racers, some super tough competitors and uber-passionate riders, I'm glad to be part of it.


If tearing around some singletrack wasn't fun enough, getting to sit down in the shade and enjoy a Dogfish Head 120, well that was the cherry on top of the icing. Great weekend, really great!


Eddie A. said...

what a great write up shaun! my whole year fell apart as far as training and was no where ready for this years 24 solo. maybe next year, im glad you were there, and im glad you were able to stop, im sure it was a hard choice! say hi to the boys and wife for me!


Shaun Taylor said...

Shame you didn't make it, it was great weather for the race and I know you would have had a good time.

Circle your calendar for next year, jump in the saddle tomorrow and get at it - I'll see you there! ;-)