Sunday, February 1, 2015

RACE REPORT: 6 Hours of Temecula

Photo: David Nguyen

UPDATE: Due to a mixup with timing, it looks like there was one more surprise from race day: I won! Thanks for clearing it all up, SoCal Endurance! 

Skill testing question: What one thing can make or break your race day? Is it a) A solid nutrition plan, with delicious on-the-bike snacks like the ones from GU Energy Labs? b) A super comfortable "six-hour" chamois like the ones from Eliel Cycling? or c) Knowing the location of your car keys.

That's right!! While A and B are both critical, the correct answer is "C."

It has been a long week--thinking we would be in Arizona teaching skills clinics, I have been busy logging in some miles to make up for *not* riding this weekend. But then we rescheduled the clinics at the last minute, and what's a girl to do with a free weekend? Race! Obviously.

Thankfully, Bill at RIDE Cyclery was able to get my race bike into race-worthy condition on short notice, so at the end of a long week, and a long day, Friday night I went home and began the meticulous work of prepping for my surprise first race of the season. Feed bag, check. Bottles, check. Kit, check. Shoes/helmet/gloves, check. Layers for post-race, check. Butterflies, check.

In the morning, the complicated and lengthy process of pre-race fuelling had me up at 5, so I'd be ready to go by 6, and at the venue by 7, a full two hours before start time at 9, which is my rule. It's my rule for exactly these moments: two hours is enough time to fix almost any last-minute mess. Like this one: Time to pack up the car and drive away? No deal. Where are my keys?! 

I tore apart all the bags, my clothes from the day before, the house and couch cushions, I even checked in the recycling bins and the trash. There was nowhere else to look so I  called AAA and had them pop the door. Time check: 7:10am. No keys.

How happy was I to finally lay eyes on this little sucker!
Of course, the end of this ridiculous "where are the keys" story was in an embarrassingly predictable place. Once I had them, I peeled out of the driveway, triumphant, at 7:30am. When I rolled into Vail Lake Resort at 8:30(!!!), I then realized in my haste, I'd totally left the garage door open. "No problem," I thought, "I'll just call Gerhard, and he can give me the neighbour's number, and surely, he won't mind closing it." Only I had no cell service. Thanks to Ninja James who let me borrow his phone, so I could call Gerhard in CO, who called the neighbour and by now, I was just a few people back in the registration line.

8:53, I'm back at the car, throwing GUs in my pockets, putting on my race number, and debating whether or not I should wear arm warmers. You know, the only time I ever missed a plane, I still got to fly because as luck would have it, the flight was delayed. This reminded me of that.

In the start gates at 9:12, and a new start time of 9:25 is announced. Laughing and visiting with fellow Ninja (and 12-hour winner!!) Rhonda, and friends Denise and Amy, I'm pretty confident that "the hard part" of the day is finally done. 

Okay, let's talk about racing now!

I have never done a "solo" anything before. 24, 12, 8, or 6. I don't know if I have the heart/legs to do it again--mad respect to those who take on those long distances. Not knowing how this was all going to go, I went out at a pace I thought would work and tried to separate from the huge pack. Amazing turnout for this race, by the way.

"Here it is, get ready for 650' in elevation gain," said someone in the bunch. "WHAT?!" screamed my brain. Oh yeah, did I mention? I didn't have a chance to pre-ride this course, or even properly examine the profile. Another fun surprise! 

The Dam Climb was definitely a prominent feature each lap, and sitting here writing this surrounded in food and drinks from the relaxing safety of my living room floor, I can't believe I ground up that thing seven times. Scratch that. I can't believe RHONDA ground up it an incredible 12 times.
War paint. Derek Couse photo. 

But as tough and punishing as the Dam Climb was, the Tunnel of Love more than made up for it. Oh man, that section is fun. So much flow and I can't even explain how much I love the sound my Racing Ralphs make over the hard-packed G-outs.

For the first four hours, I was feeling like a rock star. Good legs, good attitude, and feeling pretty technically sound. And then, for the last two hours, not even the Tunnel of Love could get my mojo going. It was hard. And I had to go pee. But I didn't want to stop in case my legs cramped up. Special thanks to Aaron Hauck of Inner Strength Fitt Labs for all his help with bike fits because I'm pretty sure being able to sit on mine for six hours in a row is in large part to his amazing work. Look him up! 

Last lap I felt the horses sensing the barn, and had a happy fun time, but the clock was running five minutes longer than the first ones. Still, I was happy that overall, my lap times were pretty consistent for not knowing exactly what to expect over six hours. Thanks Coach Richard for your help in what has clearly been a productive winter of training! 

Post-race? Eating
whatever I want.
The event was a really fun time, and well-organized, even with the surprise rush of entrants they had. The course was awesome, spaced people out well, and there were plenty of passing opportunities. The expo was also really cool, with demos available from Intense and NiteRider to name a couple. Petal Power was there with samples, as well as friends with OSO MTB. 

When I was finished, I finally got to head over to the Team Ninja tent. Which for 2015 has doubled into two tents! And a fancy Feedback Sports A-Frame for all the Ninja Weapons. So awesome to see all these amazing teammies and their smiling faces. Special thanks goes out to Derek who brought my bottles to the tent, and John who--even without prior discussion due to my time constraints at the race start--handed me bottle after bottle (and picked up a bunch too). Thank you so much John!

Congratulations to the 6-Hour Ninjas and 12-Hour Super Ninjas! 

TEAM NINJA: 12/6 Hour Contingent. Darryl Sykes photo. 
I caught results for these teammates: 
  • Rhonda - Winner, 12-hour solo
  • Darryl - Winner, 12-hour solo
  • Stephane - 3rd place, 12-hour solo 
  • Courtney and Richard - Winners, 12-hour team 
  • James - 12th place, 6-hour solo
  • Aaron - Winner, 6-hour solo, single speed
  • Michael - 22nd place, 6-hour solo
And here's to our other teammates whose results I haven't heard yet: 

  • Derek and Shelly - 6-hour team
  • Dan Bergstrom - 6-hour solo 
  • Chris Patton - 6-hour solo 
  • Tien Vo - 6-hour solo 
  • Eric Knowles - 6-hour solo 
  • Tony Brand - 6-hour solo 
  • Advait Ogale - 6-hour solo 
  • Ben Ulfers - 6-hour solo 
Awesome turn out Ninjas! Awesome day! Best of luck to all the Ninjas racing the Enduro today, especially Shelly who raced the 6 hour AND is back at it again today. Randy, Siobhan, Regina and Paula will be out there too, and young Ninja Dylan is set to shred as well. Looking forward to hearing how those events go! Good luck, Ninjas! 

Fantastic first weekend at the races, and a great start to 2015. I'm so excited to be back at it! As for results, my seven laps were good enough for 2nd1st place. Today? Eat all the things! 

6-Hour Solo Open Women's Podium

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