Marathon Nationals up in Breckenridge is officially in the books, so pop a squat, crack a beer, and hopefully enjoy the race report. After spending Wednesday night catching up with Lafayette Jen in Red Lodge, I hit the road with a full cup of coffee. Ten hours later I pulled in downtown Breckenridge, and met up with Fuzzy, Dejay, and Wicki. We grabbed some food, and then headed to the campsite for some relaxing and altitude adjustment. Friday morning, after taking our time to get ready, the gang minus Fuzzy headed to town to pre-ride some of the course. Dejay was smart enough to park his recently purchased “Chester the Molester” van as close to a playground as possible. Once we had changed into riding attire, we began our journey to scout some of the course.
We headed out up Boras Pass road, following Dejay who claimed to know the way to the final section of singletrack. Not surprisingly he didn’t know which way to go, and we wound up climbing up some road, until it came to a dead end. Nothing like an extra couple hundred feet of climbing at over 10,000 feet to get some feeling in the legs and lungs. After getting some proper directions from a local, we found the singletrack, and climbed our way to the Sally Barber Mine. The view was spectacular, as was the remnants of the old mine. We took some time to chat it up with other racers who were also out to scout the course before beginning the descent back to town. The singletrack was tight, and littered with rocks, reminding me of east coast trails, except we were descending at ridiculous speeds. We got off the trails right as the rain started, then headed to town for eats, internet, and tennis watching. From there it was off to registration, where we met up with Jake. Before I had time to ask Jake how things had been going since SSAZ, he produced a case of Fat Tire for me, GOOD TIMES! After registering we headed back to camp for grub, campfire, some new ring toss like game, and shut eye.
Race day came, and we headed to downtown, and the whole bumping into other racers and warm up jive began. I took some time to catch up with Amanda, Holmes, Krista, and there was an Andy Schultz sighting. Main street was chock full of folks to cheer us on, and a lovely volunteer led out each group when the time called. The singlespeed folk left town, and during the neutral rollout we took him to high-five youngins who were out on the course. The volunteer got out of the way and the race was on, I decided to get to the front for the first climb, because I still really have no idea how to race. Somehow I managed to drop everyone without really killing myself and I was the first singlespeeder to hit the singletrack, at the end of the almost 6 mile climb. Not enough can be said about how good the singletrack on the course was, tight, winding, and full of obstacles that required some handling skills. I passed aid number 2 and began what was in my opinion the toughest part of the course, French Gulch. Steep climbing that was too tough for my gear choice, resulting in me to spend some time pushing the bike, and letting two singlespeeders catch and pass me just before the finish of the climb. Once the climb was done, we hit the singletrack, and that’s where my troubles began.
As I pedaled along the singletrack, sitting comfortably in third place my inner quads began to cramp. What I first thought I could get through, was much worse and I was forced off the bike to try and work out the cramps by drinking fluids. That’s basically what would happened 12 times from mile 13 to 30. I would ride as far as I could before a cramp would force me off the bike, forcing me to stop until the cramp was gone. As I started the Boras Pass climb for the second lap some guy who was supporting some other rider gave me some Endurolytes. I swallowed four of those magic capsules, and drank about two and half bottles of water in less than 90 seconds. I started up the climb and not only were my legs telling me they were ready to cramp, but all that new water was not agreeing with my stomach, so while I was stopped to work through a cramp, I leaned over the guard rail and threw up. Once I got back on the climb, my legs started to feel better, and that would be the end of my cramps and vomiting.
With the cramps gone, I did what I could to try and move up as much as possible. I figured I was probably riding somewhere around 15th place at this time, and I decided to try and focus on finishing, rather than my place. Once I made it to the top of the climb at French Gulch, I knew I should be able to finish the race, due to all of the remaining climbs being gradual. My legs began to feel normal again, and I got some new motivation when I saw Dejay ahead of me, and my original goal of beating him returned. I passed him on some singletrack, then he passed me on a gnarly descent, which led to the final climb back to Sally Barber mine. I passed him never looking back, and eventually passed another singlespeeder. I began the final descent, and kept telling myself, “no cramps, no mistakes” wanting to keep whatever place I had just earned during the last climb. I managed to keep my place, and when all was said and done I pulled out an 8th place for the race.
I was bummed, think that if it hadn’t been for the cramping fiasco, I could have managed a top five, but at the same time I’m not gonna complain about a top ten at nationals. The cramps were my own fault for not drinking enough before the race, and continuing to not drink enough for the first quarter of the race. When I told Jake about what happened, he simply said, “Dude you gotta get some sport legs”, and Wicki could do nothing more than hang her head, and say “40 Hands” in a disappointing tone. All I could do was tell them that it would be a long time before I made the same mistake, and that “this wont be my last rodeo”. As far as the others who raced, I was stoked for Krista and Holmes who pulled off 4th and 5th respectively, bummed out for Amanda who was riding really well until she had mechanical issues. I’m not sure what happened to Andy Schultz, but I didn’t see his name on the results sheet, but his teammate Colin managed to power his way on the podium. So that was the Firecracker, good times were had by many, and it has made its way onto the list of race I will want to do in the future.