Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Marathon Madness!

A couple weekends ago I embarked on another mountain bike racing excursion.  I'm both loving and hating the feeling of doing races outside of my usual triathlon comfort zone.  Loving the new experiences and fun dirt offers but hating the learning curve! One of my season goals for this year was to sign up for several mountain bike races to improve my bike handling skills and race tactics for some upcoming Xterra racing I'd like to do.

Photo credit: Broken Photography
This weekend I was waffling on wether to drive to Alabama for an Xterra race or race a more local Mountain bike marathon.  My training is still far from where it needs to be so I decided to not drive 12 hours to get my butt kicked but instead to drive about 1.5 hours for a butt kicking!   So I headed to Solon Iowa for the Sugar Cubed IMBCS Marathon.  I had no idea what to expect with a mountain bike race this long but was pretty sure it was going to hurt!  The race format was basically how many laps can you get in on a 4 hour time limit.  Each lap was 12 miles long riding on all the Sugar Bottom mountain bike trails backwards.

My plan going in was to just ride the first loop, race the second loop, and then see if I had anything left for a third lap.  Well that plan went out the window as soon as the race started!  I went out with the lead group of about 15-20 guys sitting right at the back of the pack for the first turn into the start of the single track.  I quickly got sucked into racing that first lap.  I remember looking down at my heart rate monitor and seeing I was about 15 beats higher than I planned on being.  I kept thinking to myself, what in the hell are these guys doing there is no way they are going to push this pace for 4 hours!

The first lap was an absolute blast and was very rewarding in the sense I felt in the mix of the race.  I was passing and getting passed, working turns and climbs, just having a lot of fun!  I came through the first lap with about 5 other guys sitting around 10-15th place.  The second lap was excruciating! About 15 minutes into the lap I wiped out in a corner, when I popped up my left hamstring locked up with a bone rattling cramp.  I hopped (more like crawled) back onto my bike but couldn't get the cramp to release, so I soft pedaled until it worked itself out.  Then I got out of the saddle to climb a hill and both my inner thighs locked up.  Back to soft pedaling.... I was having that mental conversation with myself wondering how and the hell am I going to bike another 8 miles back to the start... should I call it a day and find a short cut back??? But what if I get lost and end up having to bike more miles!?!?  In the end I decided to just ride it easy back to the finish line and hope I get there in one piece. The last couple miles things seemed to calm down a little and I was able to pick it back up a little with the ever constant threat of a cramp at each hill.  I finished out the second lap and called it a day at about 2 hours and 50 minutes. I literally crawled back to the truck, turned the AC on, and just laid there for like 45 minutes.  I was pooped!


  • I would have had a better race and placing had I followed my race plan going in, but I did get a lot of technical and tactical race experience pushing it that first that lap that I don't think I would have got otherwise.
  • Mountain biking is no joke!  I hurt for seriously like 3 days after the race.  It hurt to type emails, that's how much of a wreck I was. 
  • Sugar bottom is a great mountain bike course!  There is a little of everything out there and is just a lot of fun to ride.  ICORR and Goosetown Racing, led by Race Director Mike Frasier, put together a great race!
SHOUT OUT: It was great seeing fellow Free Flight racers out there shredding as well.  Way to go Kyle, Jennie, Chris, and Matt!

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