18 February 2018

Susitna 100 - 2018 edition

Short version 

I got 6th Place! Go me :D

Longer version

Another year another Susitna 100 in the books. See my previous versions here (2015 Su100, 2016 Su100) This was a good one for me. 
When I signed up for the race I set myself some goals. 

  • Have fun
  • Finish strong
  • Keep moving
  • 115% of winner time wise
  • Race own race don't get sucked into other people's strategies.

I have been training hard for this year's event however, unlike previous years where my only training has been cycling. This year I have been going to a gym (Elite Sports Performance) to work on my core strength. I have also been riding a trainer to try and increase my power for when the trail gets soft. All of this extra training seemed to work for me as I had my best performance at this event ever.

The race

As seems to be the way with this race it started off relatively quickly. Josh (1st Place) and Tim (2nd Place) had set off at a good pace and slowly increased their gap on all who followed along.
Josh and Tim in the distance, following Tom and Nico 

Looking back before saying bye to Megan

Frosty selfie
Around 25min into the race Megan passed me and jumped up towards Nico and another rider. I didn't have that pace in me so maintained my pace and rode mostly with Tom though to check point 1, Laura Fox had caught back up along with Mike Estes. We arrived arrived at checkpoint 1 around 3 min after Megan and 9 min after the leaders.

After checkpoint 1 we get on some really straight trails through to checkpoint 2 at Flat horn.


Still straight 

We all arrived at Flathorn around 10 min behind Megan and 18min behind the leaders. Tom took his bike up to the checkpoint (I didn't know you could do that) and that was the last I saw of him.
After leaving Flat Horn whilst trying to eat a burrito I almost crashed on some overflow on the lake. As I rode through the Dismal swamp Laura caught back up to me she had stopped to get water at the checkpoint. The trail was getting pretty soft as we approached the river. Once on the Su the trail was a lot firmer although bumpy. Laura and I set about trying to catch the people in front of us. We passed scary tree and the non racer in me stopped to get a photo.

Scary Tree

Selfie ;-)

As we got into 5*tent camp on the Deshka river we had caught up with Dusty Eroh. He was about to leave before we were ready however, when asked if he wanted to ride with us he said yes.
finally off the river and onto the swamps

Now the three of us started working together to try and catch those ahead/maintain our position in the race. We were sitting 6th through 9th at this point.
We rolled into Eagle Quest having passed another racer (not sure on their name) who was dealing with cramping on the river.
At Eagle Quest we were still around 9 min back on the group in front of us, another quick stop and we were off to Cow Lake.

This is us rolling out of Eagle Quest, thanks for the support Clint!

Swamp miles

Sunset is aproaching

This is fun with only 30 miles to go. 

A reroute this year took us on a trail called Stevies trail, no pictures but It was steep. We dropped onto Red shirt lake then took a right and before we knew it we popped out at Cow Lake. We were now 20min back on the group in front of us.

A little longer stop here to get water and hope that the trail to the finish was solid. We were chugging along pretty well and dealing with the mechanical issue that Laura's bike seemed to have developed. I stopped to put on my light and looked back and a guy called David Berg had caught up with me. I followed him and let him do the work until we caught up with Dusty and Laura. We rode well as a group of 4 when we came across Andy Duenow on the course who was out taking photos.

I stopped to chat with Andy and he asked where Megan and Tom were? I said "ahead of us". He said "nope, I have only seen Josh and Tim riding the course and I have been riding the course in reverse." I quickly started back after the group to tell them we were now chasing 3rd place and really we should get a move on in case the group we had been chasing caught back on. It seems that Megan, Nico and Tom took a wrong turn on the course which is really sad, but it is also part of this race.

We worked well together though the last checkpoint and carried on taking 0.5 mile pulls through the finish to maintain our pace. At mile 98 I was done and could no longer hold the wheel of the riders in front of me, I also really needed to pee. I let my fellow racers battle it out and I pushed on after a short pee break. This years edition was definitely tougher than the 2016 edition though not as bad as my first year.
All done and a little shell shocked - PC Clint

But happy I have finished 

Results vs goals

I achieved all of my goals with the exception of the 115% one. I was 116% of the winning time.
I am so stoked, even if Megan, Nico and Tom hadn't gotten lost I would still have been top 10 which is way better than I expected when I initially signed up. Go me :D

Full results should be at the following link
Holy crap 6th Place

What wilI I do differently next time?

The burritos I took were to big, though super tasty next time I will take smaller ones. My food seemed to work well. I would take more mix for the bottle though and fill it more frequently. My hydration pack worked well but I want a Wampack from Revelate Designs. It was to much of an issue to get the hose out as it is behind a couple of zips.

And finally

A huge thanks to all who put this event on, it is a blast and really well organised. I really couldn't do this type of event without the support of friends and more importantly family. Amanda once again I am eternally grateful for all that you do.

Strava file

16 January 2018

Celebrating another successful orbit of the sun

For my birthday I once again got to go riding. This would not have been possible without the simply amazing Amanda who puts up with my cycling obsession. 

This year, I hatched a plan to ride around town at a mellow pace hitting up singletrack, multiuse and the beach if the riding was suitable. I invited a bunch of people along, some of whom are racing/riding the Susitna 100 others who just like to ride. Given this was also billed as a training ride I and some others chose to ride with some of our gear that we will have to carry on the Susitna 100. I should also add this, it was for many of the group, the day after the Frosty Bottom. See my post about that race here

We were 7 strong from the house then gained a few on the ride. The riding was a blast, all who had raced the Frosty Bottom were suffering from tired legs but with the warm temperatures, sunshine and smooth trails we had a blast. 

The full crew - Photo Credit Josh Chelf
We rode through Bicentennial park then made our way over to the APU singletrack. 
At the top of the unrideable hill... unless you are Josh. 

Winding our way through the APU singletrack.
- PC - Josh Chelf 

After passing through APU it was onto the singletrack sections along Chester Creek Trail. 
Before we knew it we were at Earthquake park for a beer and food break. 
Lunch stop - PC Oscar

Soon after getting going again we hit up the mandatory I'm a kid Uranus stop. 
This is funny whatever your age right?

Before long we were cruising the beach which was perfect. 
Getting artsy 

Perfect light

Andrew playing around - PC Josh Chelf

The beach was great until it wasn't.... perhaps we should have exited at the bottom of the Kincaid Hill. Oh well what's an epic ride without a little pushing. 

Yer it's kind of rideable.

New trail day  

So that is where they used to dump the cars. 

Pushing bikes is never fun, at least the view is good. - PC Josh Chelf

After pushing up the dune past the old mostly buried cars we were back on familiar trails and soon cruising a short road section before hitting up the frozen swamps between  Sand lake and Jewel Lake. 
Between the two lakes. 
 Another short road section and then it was onto Campbell Creek Trail. 
Riding Campbell Creek Trail. 

From the end of Campbell Creek trail we hit up a little more singletrack, tried to connect via swamps back to blue dot, which is currently a no go. Then it was back over to Ruth Arcand park for a little more singletrack with a view before heading home. 
Sunset with a view

We knocked out the final 1mile back to my house bringing our ride distance up to 45miles. Not a bad effort given the previous days exertion. 
Thanks to Andrew, Andy, James, Jeanette, Josh, Megan, Nico, Oscar  and Tom for joining me on the ride it meant a lot to me and I had a blast.

The cherry on top for this day though was returning home to have a home made cake. Baked by the love of my life, Amanda. Whilst getting to enjoy it with a great group of friends. 

As has been pointed out that is a lot of candles
and probably a fire hazard - PC Amanda

Our route. 

15 January 2018

2018 Frosty Bottom

This weekend of the 13th and 14th January 2018 was the Frosty Bottom, a race I've previously ridden 3 times. The first time I rode it didn't go so well, the second time I rode it went pretty well but I wasn't really racing it as I used it as a training ride. 2016 I had been doing a lot of training rides with friends targeting the Frosty, it snowed a bunch before the race and I suffered mostly due to thinking I was stronger than I actually was, note everyone else suffered too.

This year I have pretty much not done any focused training for the race however I have been riding a reasonable amount and having a lot of fun whilst doing it. I have also started going to a gym to work on my core strength, of which I had none, I now have some. All of this took me into the race with zero expectations. The lack of snow in Anchorage again, meant that the conditions were going to be really fast.

As we set off down the hill and along the coastal trail the pace was manageable for me, following a couple of people I was able to draft a little. As we turned by the sewage works there was a gap between the guy I was following and the front group. I passed the person and bridged back onto the lead peloton. We are around 20min and 4.5 miles into the race by this point. At roughly 5 miles there was is a short climb, I knew what was going to happen, the pace was going to go up.... as the pace went up, I got spit out of the back of the group and that was the last I saw of pretty much everyone for the rest of the ride. Once again I was going to suffer through the race on a solo effort. 

Around 14miles into the race I was caught by two guys Daniel and John. I chatted briefly but they were riding at a faster pace than I was able to maintain. I followed them all the way to where the climbing starts after antenna hill. I reeled them in during the climb and then as we hit the abbott road trail I took the lead, expecting them to draft me, that was the last I saw of them until the finish.

At the 1/2 ish way point my friend Greg was cheering people on and taking photos, and a little further on another friend Andrew was cheering people on too. It was great to have some support out on the trail.

The halfway point is the high point of the course, I arrived there at 1:31:23 this put me in for a tough return to try and make a sub 3 hour time. As I was riding back to the chalet I was doing the maths in my head and pushing as hard as I could to make sub 3 hours, I needed to average around 15mph.

I know I have gotten stronger over the last few years and comparing times on different segments in strava post race has confirmed this.

The last 1 mile of the frosty course is a climb up to the chalet. This year the trail was solid but my legs were destroyed after trying to maintain a 15mph average. It took me 6:10 to do, the leaders this year did it in 4:10ish. However it was the fastest I have ever climbed it in the Frosty.

I crossed the line in 3:03:25 which is a PR by over 25min, and managed 17th place over all. Clearly my not frosty focussed training paid off.

As ever post race there are always some what if's however I can honestly say I rode the smartest and hardest I could once I was dropped off the front group, not getting dropped again is the key to me getting a faster time.

I definitely had the most fun I have had during that race, I fuelled well and I set a PR all in all its a win win win situation for me.

Me just after the 1/2 way point.
Photo credit Greg Martin

Post race with some great friends.

Full results can be found here

Strava data