my season and training hit it’s first snag the past couple of weeks. odds are over the course of a year/season it’s going to happen at some point. and just like about anything in life it’s all about how your react and let if affect you. you can let it get to you, mentally crack, and think all the fitness you worked so hard to gain has slipped away…. or you can just embrace it and roll with it because there is nothing you can do to get the time back. just move forward.
for me I took the week leading up to the Belgian Waffle Ride super mellow in order to unload the fatigue I had built up in the previous week. And to be honest, I was in a pretty deep hole, which was calculated but until you take a couple of easy days some times it’s hard to tell how fatigued you actually are. I started to feel more fresh as the week went on. I worked a couple of days in SoCal and then Maggie and Fi got in town Thursday night. Friday we have super fun day cruising around socal that ended with beers with friends and then an awesome burrito.
I woke up early Saturday morning throwing up. I think it has been a decade since i’d thrown up from being sick and at that point I thought it was just food poisoning from the mexican food… but nope it was the Flu. Maggie came down with it on Sunday but luckily Fi avoided it. Once we got back to Colorado I kept it mellow to make sure I was fully recovered and then got to work with Cody to come up with a new plan. Since I had back to back mellow weeks there was no way I could take another one in a row and rest up for the Encierro Velo 100k gravel race. This wasn’t a disappointment to me as I really like doing “training races” and I figured it be a good chance to test myself on tired legs… kind of like the second 100 mile at Dirty Kanza.
So last week I was back it full on…. my week looked like this:
Monday: AM: 35′ jog with the pups & strength. PM: 90′ easy spin
tuesday: I was supposed to do VO2 Max intervals but it was snowing so I pushed them out and did a 90′ big gear workout on the trainer
Wednesday: AM: 35′ jog with the pups. PM: 2 hours – VO2 max intervals 4 x 2′ & 4 x 4′ – these alway sting but I felt great.
Thursday: AM: Strength. PM: 4 x 8′ Anerobic threshold intervals (at FTP) – did these with Maggie up Deer Creek Canyon. good times
Friday: 6:18/100 mile ride with Maggie. Maggie’s first hundo one the bike and such a rad day.
Saturday: Encierro 100k Grave Race
Sunday: rest/yard work
Needless to say I went into Saturday’s race with quite the load in my legs but I was still super amped to race. I hadn’t been on a starting line since last September at the Crippler Grave Race which started this whole addiction to mixed terrain racing. My plan was to not hold back and to race just as I would if I was fresh… it would just hurt a bit more. They just talked about “training races” on the latest TrainerRoad podcast (episode 153) and it pretty much summarizes my opinion on them as well.
The field was quite a bit bigger than I expected and a group of guys lined up on the front so I started on the second row with my Adrenalin Project teammates James and Pat. The first 4 miles were on the road and into a headwind. I just sat in as a couple guys wanted to try to push the pace early but they were dragging the entire group. I knew right away, despite the hard week, I had good legs. I was easily able to move around the pack and shut down any gaps without too much effort.
We made a right hand turn onto the dirt and attacks started flying. At this point I was still covering some attacks but letting others do most of the work to bring them back. My teammate James attacked and got a huge gap. Naturally I just sat in and wasn’t going to bring myself or anybody up to him but nobody chased. There had been a bit a separation soon after we hit the dirt and we down to 20-30 guys and soon enough we were all back together.
Around 10 miles in I started making moves and attacking. The legs were there and I was having fun putting the hurt on. The course was constant rollers and I was using the ups to go really hard and attack and it worked. A group of 5 of us got off the front. One guy tried to rally the troops and get us to work together and I was down but it didn’t seem everybody was keen on doing work. So I spent a lot of time of the front driving the break away to ensure we were away. By ~20 miles we were long gone and basically out of sight. There was a small group chasing us but we had the numbers. One of the guys in our group was Nate Whitman. He’s a friend of a friend out here and got 15th at Dirty Kanza last year. He’s a hammer and it’s a small world. I had a great race against at the San Dimas Stage Race back in 2012 with him when were both 4s. He won the overall and I got 2nd and the KOM Jersey.
Around mile 26 we were caught by one guy and a couple other guys were getting close. I didn’t want our group to expand so I went to the front and drilled it. I’m not the smartest guy in bike races but i was having fun going hard. The guy who had chased hard to catch us didn’t have any time to recover and we were soon down to just 5 again and for the next 20 miles. On our way back to the finish we were dealing with a lot of wind and our pace slowed. The guys in our group were getting less and less willing to do work. One in particular wasn’t doing any work.
With 10 miles to go I decided I would do my best to break things up… or at least try. I upped the pace, threw a bunch of attacks trying to soften the guys. It wasn’t really working but one guy cracked on a climb and we were down to 4. At this point Nate and I tried to work a bit together. For me I didn’t really care about winning as much as just getting in a super hard day on the bike and I was tired of the cat and mouse stuff and the one guy not doing any work. So I kept attacking the guy that wouldn’t work and we were forcing him on the front. Nate attacked a lot too but nothing we did would split up the group and we had a mile to go.
I did not load the course on my garmin before the race nor did I really look at the course maps. Total rookie mistake. All day I had the power to bring back any attacks so with about a mile to go I got on the front and started driving it. I figured I’d try to ride them all off my wheel or at least hard enough that they couldn’t come around… and then I blew it. Coming back into town my thinking was that we were going to take a right back onto the main street and then a left to the finish. Not the case. I went right and they all dove left and hammered. Bam. Instant gap that I couldn’t close down with .25 miles to go. I finished on the track in 4th place.
I wasn’t bummed at all. The day went better than I thought it would. I did not expect to feel as good as i did or have the power I did. I was super stoked and am full of confidence with where my fitness is right now. I still have some work to do the next few weeks before Dirty Kanza but now I know I am going to toe the line in probably the best bike shape of my life and ready to get my suffer on.
And on another note… my bike (Allied Alfa Allroad) was an absolute rocket out there. It handle the rough dirt roads really well and ripped on the road sections. I can’t wait to race it again in a couple of weeks at the Pony Xpress 160k (100 miles). That will be 2 weeks out from DK and my final test…. now i just gotta decide on tires!!