Yesterday I finally competed in my first cycling race, the Worlds 6-12-24 Hour Time Trial Championships (I did the 6 hour). The past couple months I have not been cycling at all, like zero, zip, nada, but what’s cool about timed events is that there is really no pressure to have to make a certain distance. I could just go as hard or easy as I wanted in that 6 hours so I wasn’t stressed out about it at all. Plus, its not like I am not in shape. My only main concern was how I would feel just from sitting on the bike that long.
The race was out near Indio, CA and didn’t start until 12pm so my friend Lauren (who is also a Genr8 sponsored triathlete) met Mark and I at my house in the morning around 8am. We loaded all three of our bikes into my Jeep, which left pretty minimal room for other stuff , such as a cooler which would have been pretty nice since the race was self supported in 100 degree + heat and cold drinks are nice to have…
The two hour drive went by pretty fast and we got to the race start in plenty of time to register and get all our stuff set up. It was a pretty laid back race and was put on by the same race directors who put on RAAM (Race Across America) and they were really nice. They even let Mark and I register for $25 bucks since we were friends of Lauren (Lauren knew the RDs because she has competed in RAAM twice!). They were even cool enough to let us store some of our water bottles in their personal coolers so we wouldn’t have to drink hot water throughout the day.
The 6 hour riders started at noon and were the last of the cyclists to start. The 12 hour riders had started at 6am and the 24 hour racers had started at 6pm the night before. The 24 hour riders had to complete two 120 mile loops and then switched over to a 16 mile loop. The 12 hour riders had to complete one 120 mile loop before switching over to the short loop. As a 6 hour rider we just did as many laps as we could on the short loop. If riders were out on a loop when their allotted time was up, then their average mile per hour would be calculated and they would be given however many miles it was on average that they were riding depending on how much time they were out on the last loop. Hopefully, that makes sense…
By noon it was flipping hot out. We were all sweating balls before the race even started. I was hoping for maybe a breeze when we started riding, but unfortunately we had a hot breeze if any. Now I am not that strong of a cycler, so within a few minutes of getting started, Mark and Lauren pretty much left me in the dust. I didn’t mind much though and my goal was to just stay as consistent as possible on each loop. About half way through the first loop my foot started to bug a little bit (found out the day before that I had a PRE stress fracture of my cuboid bone), which made me a little nervous. I didn’t want to drop after the first 16 mile loop though (how lame would that be…) and so I decided to go one more loop to see how it felt. I ended up coming through the first loop in 1:01, quickly switched out my bottles (which I drank maybe 2 sips from) and then headed back out.
The second I got back on my bike for the second loop, my foot already felt better. Thank god! Other than that the second loop was pretty uneventful. It was still flipping hot out, which made it hard to get any calories in and so I just drank water, but when I was towards the end of the loop I was pretty much starving. I finished up my second loop in around 1:03ish and stopped at my car and guzzled down a full serving of Vitargo and took a salt stick and then threw a coconut water in the cooler so I could have something to look forward to after the 3rd loop.
I felt much better after I forced myself to take in some calories. About 5 miles into the loop I started being chased by two dogs which scared the shit out of me, but made me cycle a little harder. The last couple miles of the loop I got pins and needles feeling in my foot which scared the shit out of me even more because I was worried that my stress reaction was going to turn into an actual stress fracture. When I finished the loop I decided to take a few minutes to check my foot out. The podiatrist had wrapped it up with a medicated wrap, but the more I thought about it, I guessed that the wrap was probably just too tight and since it was really hot out my feet were probably a bit swollen and so it was just cutting off some circulation. So I took the wrap off, sat for a few minutes to allow my foot to breathe and drank my ice cold coconut water. Ahhh…..
When I started my fourth loop without the wrap on my foot, it immediately felt better and I felt like I could press the pace just a tad harder. By this point I was about 50 miles into the ride, but felt surprisingly good! My back and shoulders were tight and my crotch hurt, but that was to be expected. My energy level was fantastic and I was all smiles and finished the loop in right under an hour in 59 minutes. When I got to my car, I popped 2 advil, slammed a serving of Vitargo and took a Fein and then headed out for my last loop.
Finally by the last loop the temperature started to drop a bit. Even though I knew that I would finish the loop before the 6 hour mark, I knew that it would be my last loop and I was just eager to get it over with. I felt good after taking my advil, vitargo, fein mix and finished the loop right in an hour again. I had about 20 minutes left in the race, but it was getting dark out and didn’t bring any lights to go another loop.
I ended up finishing up the race with 80 miles, which I was completely happy with for not having rode my bike in a couple months. And to top it off, I finished feeling REALLY good, like I still had more left in me. Apparently Mark won the 6 hour and Lauren also got in 80 miles as well. It ended up being a really fun day and I was completely stoked to be out on the same course with some high caliber cyclists. The mens 24 hour winner, Marko Baloh (from Slovenia) ended up getting in 495 miles, which just blows my mind. I actually wouldn’t mind doing more cycling races like this and would probably even do the 12 hour event next year. The only part that kind of sucked was that there were no headphones allowed, which is understandable since it wasn’t a closed course, so it just got to be a bit lonely on the course and I was stuck entertaining myself with my own random thoughts. Also there was a dead dog about 1/2 a mile from the start/finish area that we had to pass every single loop and that some cyclists further ran over. It was gross. But other than that, it was a great day and I had heaps of fun sharing it with Mark and Lauren.
Also, I have started taking Vitargo with hydrolized protein after hard workouts and the recovery is incredible. I felt really good today and no soreness. I would have even worked out but am trying to stay off my foot a bit. Now only 12 days until Chimera 100 mile. Time to start tapering down and get my foot 100%.