Monday, September 14, 2015

Day 6, Splatter Day

I know I am taking a long time to get my write up done but frankly it torments a bit me each time I sit down and write about it.  I don’t like to think I may never do another TDR ..........


Fleecer Ridge, 2015

Day 6, 3:30am to 8:30pm to 1:30pm, 130 miles

Day 6 was an unusual day. Sort of like dropping a blob of paint on the sidewalk.  The results might be interesting to look at, perhaps even pretty, from one’s de-coupled inner artistic point of view but regardless of point of view in the end you wind up with a sticky mess that needs to be cleaned up……..

I had a nice warm, secure sleeping location but woke up before the alarm and rather than roll over and go back to sleep got up and was riding by 3:15 am……  The section from my camp down to I 15 brought back memories of my failed 2014 attempt.  Actually they were good memories as this section back in 2014 was one of the few enjoyable times I had and also in 2010 was one of my top ‘magic’ moments.

Side notes: For me a magic moment on the TDR is when it all comes together.  A writer like Jill Homer could describe what a TDR magic moment is, I won’t even try except to say pick the best segment of time you personally have had on a really long hard ride, IE: maybe your best ever and that was a magic moment.  Anyway, for me, at least once a day, sometimes many times a day, my mental state + surroundings = magic.  And it’s these special moments that makes fighting thru all the difficult times worth it.  Not everyone calls them magic moments but every TDR racer experiences this magic at some point, to some degree.  And if you have raced the TDR or read deeply about it then you understand, for most, TDR magic is special and leaves deep engrained impressions.

Well the day got off to a good start, the knees and Achilles were stiff and bothersome but it would be several hours before they would become more than a side issue.  I enjoyed the rising sun as I climbed towards Fleecer Ridge. 
I look so, so whatever--hey it was just the sun in my eyes...
Now to many Fleecer is sort of a check off spot, lots has been written about this rather minor section so its sort of on every racers radar.  Today would be my 3rd time up and down it. 
Fleecer, 2010
Once in fresh 1 ft deep snow with no rear brake, once right after sunset but still ridable with no lights and today, my day 6, it would be early in the morning.  Don’t ask me why but once I got into the last steep pitch to the top, even with gimpy knees, I wanted to see if I could do the climb without walking, ya I did it, but probably one of the dumber things I did that day—think paint splat…. And then I wanted to descend without a dab but missed it by 1, oh and the on-the-fly re-clip into my one sided pedal was rather exciting, more splatter…

After Fleecer my magic for the day was all used up. 
The pavement section from the base of Fleecer to High Country Lodge was slow going.  Resupply and a meal at Wise River followed by several knee soaks in the river combined with a lethargic pace had me rolling into the lodge around 3:30pm.  I splurged in time spent for a meal, shower and laundry pit stop.  The stop/service was great but I felt guilty for the time spent and the places lost. 

Clean kit and smile on the outside, but not really doing that well by this time....

Andres on his FS rocket
Shortly after I arrived Andres Bonelli rolled in with the same plan.  Later on he caught up to me and paced with me as we talked up a storm.  Andres was the first racer since Banff whom I rode with enough to exchange more than a word or two. That evening we stopped at dude ranch with the idea to rent a cabin and escape the abundant mosquitos.   No one seemed to be around but finally we found a Spanish speaking ranch hand who told Andres we could sleep in the ‘main’ house as the owners were not home.  After we got set up on the floor of said main house I couldn’t sleep.   It was too early and I was uncomfortable crashing out in someone’s home on just the ok of their ranch hand.  Anyway after a while I quietly packed up and rode up the road till the sleep monster poked up his head.  I found a wide spot on the side of the road and broke out the bivy.  Drifted off into a sound sleep laughing at myself for being more comfortable on the side of a dirt road vs the warm floor of an empty ranch house…So overall day 6 was an unusual mix of smooth and rough going, some fast yet slow, three long stops, some good stuff, some bad thoughts, a little focus and a lot of confusion ie: sort of a big weird splatter of a day...........

Bonus Section:

Andres was one of the few racers on a full suspension race bike.  As we went along we discussed bikes and also TDR racers and strategies.  Andres reminded me there are 4 types of endurance racers, types A, B, C and D. 

Type A is fast and can ride for extended hours on little sleep/recovery. 
Type B is fast but uses lots of recovery time. 
Type C is not so fast but like type A can go on and on with less recovery. 
Type D is pretty slow and yet still uses a lot of recovery time. 

Andres felt he was mostly a type B racer while I have always felt I fit into the C category. 
If you plan to race the TDR and classify yourself per these general categories it quickly follows what type training and strategy you should focus on. All racers need the basics—route knowledge, solid gear choices, fitness, hopefully some multi-day race experience, real or simulated.  But depending where one falls on the go-fast/go-long curve, each racer should train and strategize to optimize their individual strengths while seeking to minimize their weaknesses.

Type A, you need to of course ‘maintain’ your fitness, but optimize your gear and mostly study and more study for route resupply options.  And pick the historic winning time splits you plan to meet or exceed. 

Type B racer you need to do the same as the A’s but train yourself to minimize your recovery time.  IE: you really need to prepare yourself to suffer a bit more than you are currently comfortable with.  Basically work on your mental game and get comfortable with the idea that if you have the innate speed you can run with the A racers if you just ‘choose’ to.
Type C racer needs to emulate type A but at a somewhat lower level.  IE optimize what you have to work with in terms of raw speed. Some local XC mountain bike races might help shore up your speed deficit. And perhaps better overall fitness and maybe some technical skill/work may also raise up your weak area.  Also you need to be sure you are not carrying too much gear.  Even though you may be running mid pack speed wise your ability to go long/hard can really pay off in the TDR.

Type D need to execute all the above but first should get naked in the bathroom and take a long look in the mirror.  Jump on the scale.  I am guessing most type D racers are packing a bit of extra change in body weight.  Work to reach you’re idealized ‘race weight’, it’s worth the effort on so many levels.  Fit and trim and you will enjoy your TDR regardless of speed or finish time.  If you drop the weight, by default you are also getting TDR race fit--and if you also cover the other mentioned basics you will automatically move to a C or B type racer.

As mentioned Andres was rocking a FS rig (eight overall at 17:05:18—with good recovery intervals most of the way)  He said FS gave him both speed and comfort.  And ‘wow’ could he really roll the flats what with his gearing and fast spin style of pedaling!  No way the FS was slowing him down to any noticeable degree.  Anyway, at the minimum I now believe virtually any racer, A, B, C, or D would achieve a faster finish with front suspension. There is just so much of the TDR route that could be attacked with a front suspension bike vs just 'survived' with ridged fork. And while I personally do not think FS would lower ones finish time by much if anything neither do I think it would detract from one’s finish time, at least not by any noticeable amount.   In the end a FS rig does have some gear space limitations and does add extra complexity, but if one is inclined to go FS these are not deal breakers by any means. Don't feel obligated to follow the pack in terms of suspension--most of us are just copying what others do, with no deep experience to back up our bike choices.