Sunday, July 30, 2006
Ithaca 12 hour report
Getting ready to do battle and trying to stay in the shade as long as possible.
Yesterday's 12 Hours of Ithaca was pretty much as I imagined, lot of laps and lots of heat. The temperatures were in the 90's and the heat index was over 100. Fortunately I had been preparing for the heat with the Hammer products and fine tuning my nutrition plan so while I still suffered, I didn't have to take any real time off the bike. This is also due to the great pit crew work done by Robin Scurr to have everything ready for me when I needed it. As a result I finished 2nd in my class and third overall among solo riders. The top three overall did the same number of laps, 25, but the finishing time determined the final order.
The course is a very tight 4.7 miles with little climbing and also few areas for passing. At the start we must have had about 15 of us in a single line for the better part of the lap due to the inability to pass. Ithaca is noted for its thorns if you stray off the center of the trail and no one really wanted to risk a flat. Fortunately the trail is almost 100% in the woods which helped reduce the heat factor a little. I think everyone was still glad to see the sun go down.
Night riding in such a tight area brings its own set of challenges and I think I made up for my relatively crash free year and probably am now ahead for next year based on the number of crashes I had. To be fair I did manage to tag a few trees in the daytime too and one time managed to bend my bars slightly. I didn't favor either shoulder as both of them got hit at different times. I also tested my helmet a few times and once when riding at a pretty good clip I didn't move far enough over to clear a tree that leans into the trail. I made sure on the following laps to move way over in that corner. It's kind of funny to crash at night and when you get up the helmet and handlebar lights are pointing off in strange directions.
I also managed to crash on both the Scalpel and the Rush so I can't blame it on either bike. I rode the Scalpel for the first 6 hours because it does better in the tight stuff than the Rush. When I did the switch to the Rush it helped to alleviate some of the aches I was developing due to it's different seating position and the additional travel. I went back top the Scalpel later so the Rush could have the lights added while out on the trail and I felt faster but not as comfortable. Both bikes are good at what their intended purpose is and either can be used for the other's job. It's nice to be able to have both of them in the arsenal.
About the only physical problem I had was with my feet. After a few hours my feet were really getting sore. Fortunately I bring different pairs of shoes or I would have been in trouble. I've noticed that this same pair is great for about 2-3 hours and then I start to have problems. I'm not sure if it is cleat placement or what but it is definitely painful. The other sore area is my triceps from all the bike handling required for 12 hours.
Our team had a good day at the race as Pete took first in his class in the 6 hour race and Shari Scurr just kept going around and around to finish with 18 laps and 1st in the Women's class in the 12 hour and I believe moving into first place for the series. A special mention should be made of Shari's sister Kallee who came out to do the 6 hour race and finished 3rd. She kept going the whole time and I understand that this was the farthest she had ever ridden a bike, road or mtb.
Looking at the race calendar I don't see any more on the horizon until the Maybury XC at the end of August. I will have to change my training to include more intensity because this race has a lot of the shorter power hills that will wear you down. Plus at only 1.5-2 hours long it will be a much higher pace that I have been used to lately.
I was going to ride over to Stony Metropark to catch the Tailwind TT action but after getting home this morning and unloading the van I thought better of it. Between the heat and the severe thunderstorm watch in place it didn't seem like such a good idea. Especially while sitting in the air conditioning after being out in the heat yesterday.