Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gunnison Growler Race Report

We lined up at 6:45 am or so for the neutral start. At 7:00am, a guy shot off a really loud gun (twice!) and the Ergon FJ rolled out with the 200+ racers following. I had no idea who I was up against except for my teammate Sonya Looney and some other badass looking Colorado chicks from CB, Breck, and Boulder. I was glad for the neutral start which was 3 miles of pavement to the sickly steep dirt (mud) road climb. I sat behind Sonya and Juli and once the Ergon FJ turned off the race was ON. I kept Juli and Sonya in sight but part way up the steep climb I think I started choking I was breathing so hard. I let them go and tried just to spin in the granny. However, the road was so muddy and there were tons of people and not many lines to choose from. Singlespeeders started jumping off in front of me, my glasses started fogging, and I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I rode as much as I could but soon realized that I might die on the first climb so I jumped off and follwed the singlespeeders. I could barely breathe even walking up the dang climb. I tried to chill and warm up while stuck behind some slow riders while on the beginning singletrack. I knew I could ride faster than them but I also knew it was going to be a long 64 miles with the mud and didn't want another asthma attack. After about 30 minutes of sitting in, I started to get antsy so I went for some passes. There were more steep climbs than I thought and I really just couldn't go hard otherwise I started getting that uncontrollable panicky hyperventilating feeling. My whole upper body would feel weak and I would feel like I was going to pass out. I let this happen a couple times before I finally decided to not care who was passing me and I would just have to RIDE this race, not RACE it. I didn't have my heart rate monitor so I just had to go on perceived effort. I kept a pace that I knew I could sustain over the course of 8 hours, which is how long I had planned to be out there. I would granny up the steep singletrack climbs and middle ring the sage single/doubletrack sections. The descents were a blast. Skull Pass and Enchanted Forest were my favorite sections of the first lap because of the fun technical sections and the familiar dirt and trees. It started raining pretty hard on the rocky ridges in the last 15 miles of my first lap. I was still on pace for a 4 hour first lap, but I knew the 2nd lap would be a little longer due to fatigue and more technical singletrack on the 2nd lap. The rain and wind got even more strong in the last 5 miles and my pace slowed significantly. If I tried to push harder, the cold air irritated my breathing even more. I was feeling a little frustrated but the trail was still fun so that kept my attitude relatively good. I rolled in from the first lap in about 4:15 and Junko (Yuki's girlfriend) was there to refuel my PowerBar products and Squirt Lube my chain. Thanks, Junko!

The first 2-2.5 miles of the 2nd lap were HORRIBLE. It was so muddy while climbing the Notch trail that I had to walk almost everything that went uphill. Hiking up the steep slick rocks was rather treacherous, too. The doubletrack between the Notch and Rattlesnake was also supermuddy and barely rideable. The peanut butter mud reminded me of Southeastern mud but not quite as bad as the mud from MudSweat&Gears a couple weeks ago. I was riding with a couple singlespeeders so at least I wasn't alone. After the Rattlesnake section (woohoo!) the trail started to dry out and I was able to hammer a bit more. The singlespeeders and I yo-yo'd a bit and soon I was at Skull Pass again. Man, what a fun section of trail. The sun came out and the next 8 miles or so went pretty well. THEN, about 5 miles out, it started pouring rain again, and hailing. Again, just in time for me to hit the last of the rocky ridges. I got really cold and could barely hold my bars. Everything was frozen, hail was pelting me in the face, and I could barely stay upright because of the strong wind. I started to get really pissed, stopped eating and drinking, and basically went into survival mode for the remainder. I walked way more of the last section than I had on my first lap and an 8:15 finish time no longer felt realistic. I think I spent an extra 30+ minutes navigating this last section with rocks in my socks and my calves banged to a pulp from my pedals. I am not a big fan of walking my bike. I rolled into the finish around 8:50 which was good for 5th overall and 2nd in my 30-39 age group. My teammates were all done way before me but were awesome to wait for me despite the wet/cold temps. I guess about 6 of the 64mile women racers ended up DNF'ing so I was just happy to finish and get in a long training ride. My legs felt good and even did my knee!

Thanks to Gunnison Trails, Dave Wiens, and all the sponsors that made such an awesome and grueling event. I will definitely be back!

Scroll down a couple posts for the photos, and I'll upload my own tomorrow.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home