Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 Almanzo Royal 162 race report- gear and prep

I'm not sure where to start, but I figure you can never go wrong by thanking those that got you to where you are. I know I pedaled every mile of the race, but without these people and products behind me, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to try. My thanks and gratitude go first to my wife and girls. They've spent hours and days without me being home so I can ride and train. They may not always understand, but they love and support me and thats what matters. Greg, Sterling, and all the guys at Rasmussen Bike Shop for equipment, nutrition, and repairs. These guys "get it" and that's just the way it is. Genuine Innovations for my CO2 needs (which thankfully I didn't need). Oakley for my eye gear that I eventually had to relegate to my helmet. To Chris "Almanzo" for daring to dream big and coming up with such a killer event along with his army of volunteers who have a firm grasp on what it is to have a dream. And finally to all my buddies that are out there training, racing, and riding with me, no matter how crazy the conditions or off the wall my ride idea is, I can usually con at least one of you suckers into joining me and that's saying something!

Bike Selection:
Bianchi Axis CX bike, Specialized Captain front tire, Kenda Small block 8 rear tire, Banjo brothers cue sheet holder and seat bag, and FSA K-wing carbon flat top drop bars, clip on rear fender, and down tube protector (aka crud cutter). The group is an eclectic (but stock) collection of 3x9 Tiagra brifters, Sugino touring crank (48-38-28), Deore LX rear der, and 11-32 cassette.

Riding gear (head to toe):
Specialized S-work MTB helmet, Oakley Radar with orange lens, Rasmussen bike shop cap, Pearl Izumi rain jacket, Rasmussen wind vest, Rasmussen wool jersey, Nike sleeveless base, Specialized deflect gloves, Rasmussen bibs, Specialized leg warmers, Swiftwick 5" wool socks, and Specialized S-works MTB shoes.

OK, now that all the gear geekery is out of the way, here are the ride stats for the Royal 162.

I signed up for the Royal 162 in January wondering what I might be getting myself into. As a veteran of 3 previous instances of the Almanzo 100, I knew at least part of the challenge that lay ahead in getting to the finish line of this event. However, adding 60 more miles of gravel and surpassing my longest ever ride of 125 miles (on pavement), would be getting me into completely new territory. My training wasn't exactly spectacular as I started the year strong and then hit a small burnout after my failure at CIRREM this year. That carried through most of March before I really got back on track and started logging some decent miles again. I mixed both cardio efforts doing fast MTB rides along with long steady rides on the CX bike plugging away miles fully loaded and into the wind. Those long windy rides really helped to pay off in the mental fortitude game. About the only hole in my plan was the lack of a really long ride. My planned 120+ ride got canned when I broke a seat clamp bolt at mile 40 and rode 22 miles back to a pick up point standing. So the longest ride for the year ended up around 70 miles.

Broken seat much?

The Gents Race in early April left another smoldering question in my mind. Would I physically be able to survive that long? 60ish miles of relatively flat gravel on a dry sunny day with a rotating paceline of teammates left me cramped and bonking hard by the end. How would I last for another 100 miles on my own? Was I getting in over my head?

Forced smile/grimace after the gents race

The week before the race, I knew I had done whatever I could training wise and there wouldn't be anything to change that. I spent the week with one eye peeled to a steadily worsening forecast and fretting about nutrition and what gear I'd need. I finally decided to pack an early spring type of ride kit and throw in a few optional pieces that would be a game time decision like my wool jersey and lightweight winter gloves. I also decided to toss the fender and crud cutter in "just in case" I wanted them. I don't think I'd be remiss in attributing a fair amount of success/failure by everyone this weekend to good/not so good selections of their gear. Finally, I was packed and on the road to pick up my compatriots for the weekend: Squirrel, Courtney, and Skids.

On the way

Feeling pretty good as we jammed to some tunes going down the road, I got a call. I'm notorious for leaving various gear behind, but this time I was confident my list was double checked and I was locked and loaded. My wife's voice came on the line, "Umm, honey, did you know there's a gallon ziplock filled with gels and stuff sitting on the couch?" "F#$k!" I believe was the expression that came out first. Nothing like heading off for the wild unknown and leaving 95% of your nutrition behind. I started grabbing salted nut rolls and candy bars at gas stations as we stopped along the way and would see what I could grab from the bike shop in Rochester.

Left at home

We got to Rochester and swung by the bike shop that was closing at 6 (but thankfully still let us in at 6:02) and I stocked up with some Stinger waffles, Accel gels, and Cliff shot blocks to hopefully keep me moving. At the packet pick-up/check in we tossed a couple beers back and chatted nervously about the expected race conditions for the morrow, before we headed off towards Spring Valley to find our hotel and some dinner. We each gorged on foot long subs and then rolled to the hotel where we were greeted with the fact that we'd somehow scored the jacuzzi suite for the next 2 nights.

We spent the rest of the evening futzing with our final gear and nutrition selections, but maybe me more so than the others as I wanted EVERYTHING in its place and ready for the morning. Since I'd be starting 2 hours early than the others, I didn't want to have to chase anything down. It was at this point I made the decision to go with my wool jersey and more winter oriented gloves. Sometimes it pays to have ultra endurance geek friends that like to blog. I've seen it elsewhere too, but basically George put it out there not too long ago and it stuck in my head that while you may will get wet, at least if you've got wool gear on, you're still going to retain some warmth from it versus most synthetic fabrics that today's gear is typically made from. Warm+wet > cold+wet! I headed off for a fitful nights sleep wondering what lay in store for me the morning.


the mostly reverend said...

where's part 2?

Buckshot77 said...

Its in my head trying to beat its way out. Alas, work has to come first.