Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2012 High Cascade Race Report (Cory Bolen)

This was the 2nd year for me at the High Cascade 100, which ended up being surprisingly very different than last year’s race. First off, some quick stats, in case you don’t want to read the following long winded version:

-97 miles, 9,100’ of climbing with a total time of 9:05. This course was a whole lot faster than I expected. Last year’s race was 107 miles and 10,600’ of climbing in 11:05. 

-34th in the open men’s division, 49th overall out of 300+ starters

-Pro Kona Mountain Biker, Barry Wicks won in a crazy fast time of 7:23, ~1:15 hr faster than last year’s winner Carey Smith. The field was deeper and overall had 90+ more racers than last year.

-Close to 80 miles of technical single track over the 97 mile race!

This year’s course consisted of 1 big loop with only the first and last 6 miles of the race overlapping. The race started at 5:30 am, near the town of Bend, at Mt. Bachelor Village. The temperature was much warmer than last year’s 34 degree start. The race started with an extended ‘neutral’ start up the highway towards Mt. Bachelor, which we would eventually circumnavigate. Throughout the race, whenever I got a view of Mt. Bachelor, I could not believe we still had to ride around the mountain. After 5 miles of pavement, the race was officially ON as we turned onto a dirt road. This is where the first day’s crashes began, with a few racers crashing on the transition of the first uphill climb. This resulted in a lot of racers, including me, dismounting and running up the hill to get around the congestion of bikes and bodies. After this initial congestion, the race thinned out pretty quickly and the steady climb to Wanoga via Funner began. The climb was not difficult, but several ‘Y’s’ in the trail left each rider guessing what was behind trail #1 and #2. Sometimes it really didn’t matter, which trail Y you took, but often times if you chose the wrong one, you were exposed to some unnecessary large rock lifts and drops. The 1st 18 miles of the race came pretty fast. My overall race plan was to go out more conservatively than I did last year. I was constantly holding myself back and trying to ride an even pace for the entire race. Oddly enough, I still felt both of my quads wanting to cramp within the first 18 miles of the race, even though I felt like I was going at a comfortable pace. Each 100 miler I have done, I have had early cramping issues, probably due to the lack of a real long pre-race long warm up. This is something I still need to improve upon in the future.

The next segment from Wanoga (mile 18) to Swamp Lakes (mile 29) was spent fueling, talking and ‘leap frogging’ several single speeders including Tim Phillips. The first 6 miles of this segment consisted of a slightly inclined road climb before getting back on single track. This is also where Brett Nichols passed me after suffering from a mechanical very early in the race. The entire single track section to Swampy Lakes went well, and no trees were ‘hipped checked’ as in last year’s race. The biggest obstacle on this section was the early morning light through the forest, which would often blind you momentarily as you repeatedly flowed through very nice single track. Once I got to Swampy, I grabbed another bottle from Beth and started Sector 16. Mile 18 to 42 was an exact repeat of last year’s race. Overall, maybe 40% of this year’s race utilized the same trails as last year.

Leaving Swampy Lakes, I was immediately dropped by the single speeder (athlete 360) I came into the aid station with up the initial dirt road climb before entering more single track. I again, restrained myself, and focused on fueling on the dirt road sections and didn’t make chase. I assumed I could catch him on the single track of Sector 16 as I did in the previous single track section. After a few miles, I was getting close, getting quick glimpses through the trees and seeing his faint dust trail. Finally, my bladder overcame the battle, and I pulled over to relieve myself. In mid-stream, a train of 3 mountain bikers came by, which I would end up latching onto through the remainder of Sector 16 to mile 42. At mile 42, the climb up to Dutchman’s aid station at mile 56 began. The overall climb itself wasn’t bad and went pretty quickly. I started the early sections of the climb with Steve who had caught up right at mile 42 before he ‘fell asleep’ on the bike (Ask Steve). Coming into Dutchman’s aid at mile 52 was the first indication that the course might be short a few miles.

At Dutchman’s aid station, I got new bottles, food and lubed the chain for the next section of trail. I was informed that Mark was only 2 to 3 minutes ahead of me, which surprised me. I now had my carrot and thought I would be able to catch Mark in the ensuing 10 miles of technical, mostly downhill singletrack. The trail started with a few snow drifts that you had to ride through. This section of the course had also been used in previous years (not last years) and I was aware of the large amount of lava rock throughout this section. I tried to ride fast, but clean at the same time. I caught a few people, but I also was passed by probably the same number of people. I never did catch Mark and he actually ended up putting 8 to 10 minutes on me in the last 45 miles of the race! The last 1 or 2 miles to Lava Lake was really pretty, but was actually my least favorite portion of trail the entire day. The trail was relatively flat, with a few short ups and downs, but littered with lava rock. The lack of flow of the trail (or my riding) made for a low speed bumpy ride.

At Lava Lake, there was a bottle hand up station and then you began to payback the elevation gods for all of the descending of the last section. The crux of the final miles back to Edison aid station at mile 77, consisted of a 3.9 mile climb with 1,200’ of climbing. I never paid much attention to this segment on the map since it did not seem like a huge amount of climbing. Little did I know, the climb basically consisted of a stair-step elevation profile. Continuous short punchy climbs littered with lava rock and tree roots connected by short sections of moderately inclined trail. A lot of the early climbs, I chose to dismount and walk, since I had been trying to avoid the cramping of the quads since early in the race. Walking did not seem to result in losing too much time on these climbs. Only until halfway through the climbing segment, I noticed I was in my big ring, which would explain why the climbing felt even more labored than usual. After shifting to the smaller chain ring the steep climbs became much more doable and I was on my way to the final aid station of the day. Right before getting to Edison aid station, my body began to tingle and I felt like I was going to pass out. This happened to before a few weeks prior after a long days ride at Bogus in the heat. I think it was basically the early signs of bonking.

At the final aid station, most of what remained was 15 miles of single track and 5 miles of descending pavement. Mark pre-rode this section the day before and said it would probably take 90 minutes to finish. The section consisted of a few short climbs to Kiowa Butte before descending on Tiddlywinks and Storm King. My tingling body / passing out, feeling returned briefly on Storm King and only got better by consuming a small potato and some GU. During this brief low point, I mistook a butterfly for a rider and almost began following it off-trail into the forest. Finally, I arrived on the final road section and was able to catch a single speeder on the descent that had passed me an hour earlier on the final ascent. Finished up the race with the arms up and greeted Beth and friends.

Overall, the race was good; no crashes, no mechanicals! Personally, it was a big success for me to be able to do this race this year with the back issues I have had all year. The course was really fun and I think it will attract even more people to this race since it is so fast. Hopefully, the race course will stay the same with the addition of 3 miles of climbing to make it an honest 100 miler! I felt my race execution was the best of any of the endurance races I have completed in the past. I fueled well, with the exception of the section between Dutchman and Lava Lake. I could have really used a camel back here since the trail was so fast and technical. After watching video highlights of the race, many riders seemed to swap in and out of using a camel back during the different race segments. Also, I had less than 10 minutes of down time throughout the entire race compared to 20 minutes in last year’s race.

Even with successfully finishing the race, I do feel a little unsatisfied with my overall performance, which sounds somewhat silly. Throughout the day, both my climbing and technical skills were only average compared to how I had been riding in my training this year. I didn’t train as hard for this event, as I did last year, but going into it, I felt like I was better prepared and in better shape. I think my race strategy was maybe a little too conservative for the unexpected fast course, but at the same time, I don’t think I could have gone much faster on this given day. Out of the three 100 milers that I have done, this was definitely the easiest day in the saddle. I guess last year’s race had set the bar pretty high in terms of suffering. It is a fine balance of not going out to hard versus not going out hard enough. All day, I felt like I had only ‘1-speed’, which may be attributed to being conservative the first 42 miles or so of the day. Huge kudos to fellow teammates Zuber, Mark and Steve for having great races! Also, huge congrats to all the other Boise racers who raced! In the overall scheme of things, we are all very fortunate to be healthy enough to ride our bikes, and I try to remind myself of this when I am even a little bummed about a race.

Until next time,



High Cascades 100, Bend, OR July 21st 2012 (Eric Zuber)

Lessons I learned from the 2011 HC100 included drinking WAY more, eating before I needed to and pushing through the mental anguish the trail may lead you through. Mentally the 108miles last year vs the expected 102miles really destroyed my mental state. In order to have a more enjoyable race this year I decided to forgo anything that tracked my progress. I would keep mentally alert, and keep the cranks a’ turnin’ and finish when I finish.

I primarily succeeded this year with implementing the lessons learned from last year, starting with the excellent support from Angela! Talk about a pusher… Water, water, water….the hole week before…Good meals (Chicken, steak, pork & fish) every night, and I laid off the fermented goodness we all crave just to be sure. I was recycling water like a champ. I’m sure we stopped 4 times on our way to Bend to water the grass. I mention all of this because we all know how important it is to go into a race hydrated but we all seem to slack off in this area more than we should! (the last ¼ of the race I was more dehydrated than I would have liked even with a keener focus on staying hydrated). The temperatures in Bend were just about ideal. Morning temperatures were somewhere in the 50s; chilly if you were standing around, but you could ride with only arm warmers, or without anything if you could handle the chill. The hottest it got was probably ~85F.

The start was very slow compared to last year due to the pace car leading us all the way to the dirt road trun-off. This was probably not the best outcome as we were all bunched up on a dusty two-track. Several riders did crash and took out others due to the congestion. The added congestion also lead to more dust intake and painted bodies (sweat, dust = some of us looking like KISS rockstars). 

Tim Philips, Mark Schafer and I were in the top 1/4th of the group (pros in site) on the road, I even chatted Oppenheimer up a bit. Soon after hitting the dirt, Oppy and I went back and forth and then I let the lead 10 go. A few riders passed me up as I tried to settle in and the pack started to spread out as we entered onto the Larson single track. Things started getting more technical and there were small back-ups on Funner that I was able to make moves and pass back about 3 riders before aid 1 at 18miles.

Coming into Aid 1, support called out “water or Heed” but no Perpetuem?! Luckily Angela was there to see that they indeed had Perpetuem - you just had to mix yourself (no problem) – thanks Angela! I had consumed 2 bottles in 18miles (hydration plan in check), refueled and got back into the race as I heard an energetic whoop/holler that almost got me concerned I had cut someone off as I entered; but I quickly became excited as it was Mark barreling up behind me as we left Aid 1. Now I had some company for the ~5mile road section! I figured we’d sure work together, make great time and then I’d be dropped like a wet rag. I think Mark bypassed Aid 1 and was using the road section to recover/fuel, thus saving the stoppage time I used before continuing on – again, I was on my own and was able to make up about 4 positions. 

There was another ‘water aid’ at mile 29, but turns out they had Perpetuem and Heed – would have been nice to know (carried an empty bottle with Perpetuem to mix with water provided to stick to my hydration plan). Here I planned on carrying 3 bottles, but the confusion of having more than I expected lead me to leaving with only two bottles (I had not expected Angela to be there, but she was, and I had not told her of my plan for 3 bottles and she was too fast/efficient to give my tired mind enough time to ask myself what I needed or wanted for the next ~30miles with a big climb). Luckily the temps remained in the low 70s and we were riding shady, windy, fun single track.

Leaving the supplemental aid (between 1 and 2) I quickly caught up to a single speeder (turned out it was #1 last year: Gerry Pflug, 44 from PA). He and I would go back and forth for the next ~25miles and chatted each other up, which made that section go by really fast! Thanks, Gerry!

On the top of Swede Ridge I clipped a downed tree (trimmed to just the edge of the trail) and went down HARD! I was chatting with Gerry and the next thing he heard was a loud THUD and the air leaving my chest. He did call out if I was OK as he vanished around the next trun, and I was able to push out an “All Good!” as I collected a spewed water bottle and hop back on the bike as I did an inventory. I wasn’t sure if I had broken my big toe, split a toe nail or did any damage to the bike. Turns out everything was up to par! (Close call!).

Sector 16 went by so fast I question if we even did it! I only remember making a turn on to Skyliners and knowing this is by far my fastest section with its rolling terrain with technical spots that I knew I could carry speed through. Once Gerry pulled over, He was also well hydrated, I opened it up and didn’t see him until the climb out of South Fork shut me down. It was a long gruel, but I knew it would keep going and would not relent, so I stopped a few times (hydrated, watered and ate) and went back and forth with Gerry and another rider a couple times before they finally gapped me well before Aid 2 at 56miles.

Exiting the single track section we had about 5 miles of double track into Dutchman (Aid 2). I was slowly regaining my energy after the long climb and passed Jason Berning, 32; a Fitzgerald Bicycles rider from Victor who was also feeling as though we could give Dave Byers a hard time for not riding this race! (there were a few older riders sporting 2012 Cream Puff finisher caps at this race, just sayin’).

Finally I was feeling better and ready for the loop around Bachelor!

I could not help but think how fast Steve Gustafson was going to do this section! I was glad he wasn’t my rabbit, but I was primarily solo all the way to Aid 3 at Lava Lake, making up two more positions. Riding this section alone was a bit difficult because you couldn’t see where the trail was going. Downed trees were grey, the trail was grey, there were shadows galore and turns a’ plenty. Riding alone, however, enabled me to see the trail clearly (lack of dust) and avoid or make obstacles that become difficult with other riders around. I felt I was making great time. 

This section was definitely rocky. Going got slower as Lava Lake became visible. Technical features on turns required you to slow down and crawl over/around/down every 100ft. Somewhere in this section, I heard later, Gerry lanced himself on a broken tree – for which he immediately was concerned he had a sucking chest wound! Yikes! After the race I had wondered what happened to him; somehow I had come home 10 minutes ahead of him, but I had never seen him again after the long climb to Aid 2. [Hmmm; there seemed to be some magic out there; I’ll let others fill in other events that occurred, which might explain why we might refer to Steve as “Magic Man”.] Either way, Gerry wound up finishing 3rd in SS. I’m guessing if he hadn’t of been lanced, he may have had a shot at #1! He definitely had #2 as Jace Ives, 28 (#2 SS) had one of the biggest bonks I’ve ever seen on a race course. My only regret this race was not stopping to feed him – turns out Angela also noticed him at an aid and wanted to offer up assistance as well! (After watching an interview on bigbikesmedia.cyclingdirt.org, “Stabbed Gerry Pflug”, I’m not used to Jace’s general demeanor, which probably made him sound/appear worse off than he was; he did recover for 2nd SS after all!).

After Aid 3 and an additional water bottle (they had heed there too; not expected) I entered the Strava section, and extra challenge for the deranged/pros. There were several rocky sections that I figured I’d not even try. I wound up walking about 5 of them, tried to water a thirsty tree, but failed. I was looking for justified reasons to pull over and take care of something in order to give my body a chance to recuperate. I should have eaten more the previous hour, but the terrain made eating very difficult, so I was under fueled at this point! (pull over, eat – it’ll be worth it - or over fuel before a long technical descent! – that was Aid #2, where I probably should have spent more time eating)

After making the final climb, Tiddlywinks removed any comfort remaining in my back with continued bumpy descending until we were finally delivered to the last 6miles of pavement to the finish! I was leading John Weathers (Men’s 40-49 #2) in the descents until I dropped my chain for the 4th and final time (stuck between crank arm and big ring, around a bolt that is supposed to negate the issue; too short) and lost my lead into the pavement. I was unable to catch John on the road. He was slowly pulling away, giving me no chance of a draft. My placement got one better just at the end as John slowed up on the ~500ft of remaining single track just before the finish and I was able to get around him in the last 50ft for the ‘win’. He figured correctly that I was younger and his podium finish was not threatened!

Angela was there again to receive the tattered riders, took my bike and helped me wash the dust from my weary body. I could not bend over or pick anything up. My lower back was locked up. I was able to walk around and fake my disposition while I got some pizza and beer and waited for everyone else to come home. We all primarily finished within an hour of each other (which our support ladies really appreciated! – didn’t have to wait around an extra 4hrs for the last group member to cross the line).

I feel we all did a super job at this race despite our own personal lows and how sure we felt on the technical descents. No major technicals that I heard of and our wives/girl friends did an amazing job feeding, cleaning and setting us back on path at each and every aid station, save Lava Lake. I can’t thank you enough.

Till next time! Cheers,


Monday, July 9, 2012

Nationals Report from Jon Gould

National XC was great weekend. Lori and Cory had rough races. Lori, the team's best chance for a national championship, broke her collar bone. Cory twisted his chain during spectator loop which resulted in the chain breaking once he headed out on the 18.5 mile loop. Steve, with his 1 by 10, had great gearing for the course except the two miles of greenbelt. After the greenbelt Steve had a lot of ground to make up and his strong descending helped him do just that.

Bryan Warnock, Mike Shaw and myself had smoother races. Bryan started things off with a top ten finish on Thursday on a pretty dry and dusty course. The rest of us had nearly perfect conditions on Saturday morning - tacky soil and clear skies thanks to the Friday night rain. While we didn't have the numbers we had last year, we still had the strongest showing of local clubs.

The course turned out to be really fun after two miles on the greenbelt. It consisted of 8 miles of steady climbing and then 8 miles of some great singletrack descending.

Thanks to Page and Rick for coming up and supporting the team. It is great to hear cheers during the race.

Lastly, the pro races were great. The four US Olympians finished 1-2 in their respective men's and women's races. Georgia Gould crushed the women's field and should be a favorite for gold in London. Todd Wells lead Sam Shultz by a bike length for the first five of six laps. At the start of sixth lap Wells stopped in pit for a new wheel. Shultz got a 40 yard lead that he held to the finish.

Hope everyone had a great 4th and has enjoyed riding in a relatively cool summer up until now. The local riding could be pretty toasty for the next few weeks. Time to head up to Bogus.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Galena Marathon (6/30) - Race Report from Steve G.

Elevation, heat, and a load of climbing made Galena more of a survivor game than a race! I came in well rested and wanted to have a good showing, but legs felt rusty. Luckily there was 68 riders in a mass start and everyone had to just fall in line. This gave my legs time to wake up and start running from team mate Mike Shaw who was stalking me! There was a few sketchy downhills in-between the grueling climbs so I could maintain some distance. Running my single ring up front (Dumb-A$) I was slowing on the relentless climbs and Mike got by me.. Somebody should had reminded me about the hike-A-bike from hell...I would have stayed home to drink beer!

Lap 2! What, I have to do that again!! Mike and I showed up at our cooler for some refreshments together and neither wanting to wimp out, so we moved on. I set a blistering pace (about 5mph) and Mike was sucking my wheel (drafting is cheating!). Some gal had the nerve to pass us, and Mike wasn't having any of that! So I gladly watched them ride away from me on the first climb. I can catch them on the down... Or I can slide out and road rash my junk!! (that's a first) That took all the ambition out of me and went directly to the survivor game. From there it seemed like I was the only one left on course, no one chasing and no one in sight to chase. Soldiering on, my junk started feeling better, or numb, and I picked up the pace (6mph) and by the time I got to the FUN hike-a-bike I had someone in sight! Oh its on, like Donkey Kong! I felt revived and started picking riders off. One, Two, Mike, nope Mark! We'll let Mark share what happened in his race but will most likely be the last time I beat that machine! Then one more Eastside jersey watering the bushes, Mike.. It was mostly downhill from here so was able to hold off any challengers and get by a few more to finish strong.

That was hard, but I felt good at mile 40 so only 60 to go.. Bring on HC-100!!