Monday, July 27, 2009

Off Road Assault on Mt Mitchell

The 2009 Off Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell is in the books! I survived and I actually met my one main goal, which was to finish in under 8 hours! Considering my last year's time was 11:19, I was very happy to find out I completed ORAMM this year in 7:49! On a singlespeed too! How awesome is that? No major cramping, no flat out bonks...cleaned all climbs, and scorched all felt so good to be able to just keep moving! 2009 ORAMM ran like a well oiled machine. Veterans of previous years also agreed this year was like clockwork.
I drove up to Old Fort Saturday early morn and decided to get in a little heartrate tempo training with a ultra light climb up Curtis Creek from the 2 bridges where it gets really steep. I rode up it with little or no effort. This was great and my heartrate peaked, I held it for a while and then let off with some smooth downhill action and repeated a smaller interval. I then packed up my stuff, and checked into the Comfort Inn where I quickly prepped my feedbags, and gear for tomorrow. Afterwards, I drove into Old Fort, registered, talked with a few friends, new and old and proceeded to hunt down a dinner spot.

Dinner consisted of Smokey Que's BBQ...Chicken, Catfish, BBQ pork with beans, potato salad, hush puppies, yum yum! (predinner has not yet been whittled down to a science, but I am working on it) Afterwards, straight to motel room and bed.

My Race Report:

6am came insanely fast, and before I knew it, we were rolling out onto Old 70. I was sticking to the plan by not going out hard and let many riders by in an effort to control my pace, but after seeing too many people in front of me hiking up Kitsuma, I decided to start turning up the juice just a little. I had a nice climbing pace going for about 20-30 good solid minutes where I passed dozens of gearies spinning away in their granny gears.I just kept ringing my bell and cutting through the masses. I think the shaved off 10 minutes or so as I still was knee deep in traffic hiking up Kitsuma. The downhill was no different. Stop and go the entire time...lots of unsure riders were ahead and even some who had never pre-ridden the course! So I finally make it to rest stop#1 and quickly swap out my bottles for 2 more of my own. I realize that the Kitsuma descent knocked my endurolytes and chamois cream packet out of my pocket so I now have no Electrolytes! I roll on trying to figure out what to do about this problem. I immediately start chugging my Nuunz water bottle to at least restore a few bits of lost salt, but I know Nuunz isn't concentrated enough to fully replenish like 3-4 endurolytes can(hint Nuunz Concentrate?). I also chew on a few pieces of Honey Stinger Chews and they perk me back up within minutes, so off I go to Lower Heartbreak ridge to hike some more up to StarGap. At this point I realize I have been hiking more than biking and not because I am undergeared, but because there are way too many people still jammed up in front of me.

Traffic Jams are Very frustrating...

I also realized hiking was taxing my heartrate much more than simply sitting in the saddle and spinning, so I start trying to ride and pass hikers. It works for a while, but some of the hikers are all over the path, so back into the queue I go. Not having endurolytes starts to worry me, but I hit Stargap with a bit of extra charge and try and hold a steady pace. I back off for a while anticipating the climb up Curtis Creek coming up. StarGap is uneventful and over with before I know it. Rest Stop#2 arrives and 2 bottles are swapped out. I look around for free endurolytes, but there are none to be found. I quickly take off again realizing I just lost a few minutes...I zap up a shot of Honey Stinger Gold gel and wash it down with Nuunz H20. This works well and does not seem to shock my system. Smooth ride until midway up Curtis Creek, I spot my wife taking pictures and ask her to load me up with endurolytes from the car. She ziplock baggies me a dozen or so tablets, I take a few and continue on up Curtis Creek. I roll through various forms of digestive issues since so much is going through my system right now and finally I feel everything start to normalize. The quivering crampy onsets are gone, I have a little pickup to my step and I start to do some standup climbing. It is difficult, but I find my rhythm and make up lost time. I might actually use a 23tooth cog next year...we shall see. I arrive at Rest Stop #3 and reload 2 fresh cold bottles Perpetuem and Nuuns H20. I chug a mini-coke and eat half a Honey Zinger Peanut Powerbar. I change into fresh full finger gloves for the Heartbreak descent and continue on to Rest Stop#4 The out n back leading to rest stop #4 is long and arduous and really taxes your patience. I arrive at Rest Stop #4 and quickly swap bottles and move out fast. I cruise up the road to HeartBreak Ridge excited knowing I am somewhat making up for lost time earlier. The hike a bike up to HeartBreak seems almost twice as long as before but I finally get moving and fast! The descent down HeartBreak is fun and smooth, taking some risks and losing no momentum. Finally, I see train tracks and arrive at Rest Stop#5! I stupidly swap out my bottles again, only to realize I had not taken a drink since Rest Stop#4 since I was descending the entire time! Lost time! I speed off and start the ridiculous trudge up Mill Creek Ridge gravel road...This road seems to wind on forever and I start to complain out loud, "is it ever going to end" ??! Then, like some mysterious dejavous, I am hiking back up Kitsuma, slower than before since I am feeling drained. I pass people trying to ride their bikes up the switchbacks and continue onwards. I plan on making up my lost time on the descent. I arrive at the true top of Kitsuma and let off the brakes. I approach 25 miles an hour and start hopping around. Kitsuma felt rougher on the descent than Heartbreak and repeating it really hurts. I pass 3 riders on the descent. I get out on the final stretch towards the finish and ride along with a fellow singlespeeder who has taken a few falls today. He seems in great spirits and we end up riding in together. I arrive to see a few of my friends already finished and lots of cold beer on tap! I immediately grap a cup of celebratory beer and gulp it down! Success! What a great day!


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