May 20, 2012

The Salty Dog

Last weekend I headed to Salmon Arm with Scott and Lisa to race the Salty Dog, a tough 6hr mtb race. I'd never done this race before even though it sat on my checklist of races to do for the last few years. Scott had good things to say about the course so I was excited to check it out.

We got to our campsite Friday evening and setup the tents next to a little river and started a campfire, a good start to the weekend.

A pre-race lap and back to the campsite

That first night was cold! My Western Mountaineering lightweight down bag was a little too lightweight. Here's a self-taken image just prior to turning in for the night.

Weekend camping

The next morning we headed to the race course to do a pre-race lap. By the time we got started it was already a hot day, trying to hang on to Scotty's back wheel during the climbing portions as he flew up almost effortlessly just made it hotter. After the lap it was back to the campsite to clean up the bikes and do final checks before dinner next to the campfire.

Orbea Alma 29 ready to race

The race started Sunday morning at 1000hrs with a large pack that self-seeded. Unfortunately for me, a few seconds after the race gun went off the pack narrowed in at a natural chokepoint and I got caught behind some slow pokes that created a separation from the lead pack. For a big chunk of the first lap I had to fight my way up tight singletrack trying to move ahead where I could. Some spots on the course were difficult to pass on so I ended up doing lots of track standing and 10RPM slow movements as the mule train in front of me plonked along. After what seemed like an eternity I got into a wide passing section where I managed to make some good time by burying myself. After that first lap the rest of the race went pretty well, almost predictable. I kept my pace reasonably high but not redlined, the 30 degree Celsius temps had the potential of being a problem so I decided it might be smart to hold back a notch or two, it turned out to be a good decision I think.

Lisa was helping me out with bottles as Scotty and I were sharing a pit. I was turning over predictable laps and as I came through the transition area I'd be able to see Lisa standing next to our pit with her hand holding out a bottle. I didn't have to slow down it was just throw the old bottle and grab the new one she was holding out. Big thanks to Lisa!

I felt pretty good after 6hrs of racing the Alma 29 S Team. The Salty Dog was a challenging course for a singlespeed hardtail setup, it demanded hard efforts on the front half of the lap which contained most of the vertical ascent and then the workload would shift to lots of upper body work and hovering above or behind the saddle on the back half of the lap which was mostly fast technical descending. The legs never really got a break. The Salty Dog is my preferred style of course (hard) and I would gladly do that race again. I didn't track the vert gain on my Suunto but I heard it was 9,500' vert gain for the 8 laps I finished with. Those 8 laps got me an 8th place category finish, not too bad considering it was a geared category with nearly everyone on full suspension bikes.

What does a hard 6hrs look like 10mins after finishing the race?

And done.

Besides the 'real, actual mountain biking' style of racecourse, I also liked that there were close to 400 racers in attendance. Big numbers help legitimize a race and it was pretty much a who's who of Western Canada endurance racing and there were some hammers that showed up. Besides the camping and racing (which both got gold stars) it was just good to see a bunch of familiar endurance faces. It would have been nice to stick around and catch up with some of the stories but we had to hit the road as fast as we could to get a decent start on the drive back. Another reason we needed to hit the road real quick, Scotty was on a mission, an A&W mission.

Scott and the A&W

I finally got home around midnight, Doreen and the boys were out of town visiting family so I stayed up till 0300hrs catching up on a few athlete files. When my alarm went off at 0730hrs I officially determined I was a shell of a man. I dragged my butt down to the espresso machine and got some Ethiopian Tuktant on the go, deelish!

I took Monday off from riding and then Scott came down on Tuesday to do a fun 75min 'recovery ride', as if there is such a thing in Rossland. Mainly we took it easy and just flowed around the singletrack and took it fairly easy up the hills. The legs didn't feel too bad. Wednesday I got a couple of hours in where my punch was coming back, I decided to take Thursday off so I could get in 7hrs of singletrack on Friday, Saturday and today. Lots of fun!

Drakes Trail

Heading into Milky Way

In Orbea mode

My TSB is -29 right now so it's time to relax and let the body recharge for the upcoming 24hr Solo in Spokane which start next Saturday. This one will be my 19th 24hr Solo and with two more 24hr Solos later this year I'll finally crack into the 20+ club. The boys said I should celebrate when I do my 24th 24hr Solo, but they also said Scotty and I should do the Seven Summits trail three times this year because we did it twice last year (click here to read about that adventure) and every year from now on we should add an extra lap. Keegan got really animated and said 'Yeah! Like seven years from now you can do the Seven Summits trail, seven times!! Get it?!?! Seven and seven and seven!!' Hahaha, other than the suspect math, yeah seven laps should be super easy.

I know we are going to go for it three times this year, but four times??? That's a whole lot of A&W.

Back to the 24hr Solo, now that there's less than a week to go it's time to fall back on tradition and you know what that means...

5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Thunderbirds are Go!


Dave said...

Pretty cool event, Congrats on your top ten finish. That Orbea looks dope!

Seven Summits 3 times? yikes!

Shaun Taylor said...

Don't you worry, as soon as we figure out how we are going to do it I'll send you an invite. ;-)

... said...

great race write-up, see y'all this wknd!

PaddyH said...

great race report/blog...see ya in a day or so...

Eduardo Arguelles said...

Hey Shaun,

Off topic, but you need one of these!

Cheers from Texas,


Shaun Taylor said...

Yeah Paddy, gonna be a good weekend of racing. The way you were kicking it at Salty Dog on the SS makes me feel a whole lot better about racing my SS in the Geared Open category.

See you on Friday.

Shaun Taylor said...

Hey, hey, Eddie. Good to hear from you and after reading that link I slapped my head for not going to visit Chris King at their factory in Portland. I was in Portland last month for the SCAA (massive coffee convention) and could have picked up a new King cog for my SS.

Sadly my lever machine has a 48mm basket, so none of the stock tampers would work for me, wonder if Chris would show me some love?

Hope all is good down your way.