Monday, June 9, 2014

I’M SO FANCY…...Fruita 100k Race Report:

I’m So Fancy……………is the song that was stuck in my head during the Fruita 100k mountain bike race.  Actually, the chorus of the song is what kept repeating in my mind during the latter part of the race since I can’t really make out what the rest of the song lyrics are actually saying.   It wasn’t until a few hours later, when I heard the song again on the satellite radio that it clicked that this was the song in my head during several hours of the race.  It is interesting how the subconscious mind works in times when you are at or near your limits considering I had first heard the song on the radio only two days prior during the drive down to Fruita.  Oh, and the music artist turns out to be an Australian hip/hop star that I have never heard of……….random!

I'm so fancy
You already know
I'm in the fast lane
From L.A. to Tokyo
I'm so fancy….”

So, owe yeah, where was I, the Fruita 100k:

60 miles; 6,300’ of Climbing; Spans 2 States; and has a whole lot of steep ups and downs.

Beth and I decided to make the trip for the Fruita 100k two months prior since I had a work conference planned the following week in Snowbird, Utah.  I have always wanted to ride in Fruita, but had never made the time to stop on the way, while driving to other far off destinations.  In fact, if it weren’t for Beth’s interest in the race, I still wouldn’t have ridden in Fruita yet.  

View from camp the night before the race.  Would it be an omen for a good race?

Beth and I arrived in Fruita Thursday evening and we easily found a nice campsite in Rabbit Valley, which was where the race was to start.  Friday we went for a short ride along the Kokopelli Trail, which was also a good portion of the race course.  After the ride, we spent the rest of the day in Fruita and nearby Colorado National Monument.  Race day came and we picked up our numbers and toed the line at 7:00 a.m.  The race is in its 4th year of existence with racer numbers wavering between 50 to 75 racers each year.  This year’s participant number was slightly lower with ~60 in attendance.  The course was brand new from the previous 3 years by adding 26 miles of singletrack and 2,000’ of climbing.  We had limited information on what the new singletrack actually entailed, but assumed it was straight forward (i.e., not to technical), which we would come to realize a different story later that day.

Beth overlooking the Colorado River

Colorado National Monument

Going into the race, I didn’t have many goals other than to finish and have fun.  I had ridden less this year due to a busy spring at work and general motivation.  Going into the race, my training consisted of just normal riding with a few hard efforts at the Thursday Night Ride (TNR).  The race started and my plan was to hopefully make a small lead group, since the first 10 miles were on the technical jeep road of the Kokopelli Trail.  The race started and the pace was very reasonable and I found myself in 2nd place.  At about mile 1, there was a technical ¼ mile section that consisted of steep ledges and loose rocks that we happened to ride the day before.   I decided I wanted to be in the lead briefly going into this section, so I would have my choice of lines and avoid any miscalculations of other riders.  I moved into the lead right before this section, rode the section without incident, which resulted in a small gap opening up on the field.  Since I didn't really know what my fitness currently was or how my body would respond, I decided just to ride my own pace and see what happened.  It wasn't for probably another mile or so, that two riders joined me with a small chase group maybe 30 seconds back.  I ended up leading the race for the first 7 miles before a group of 4 of us switched leads for the next few miles.  In the last mile before the singletrack, I lost contact with the lead 3 while messing with my computer and their train quickly opened up a 30 second gap on me due to a strong headwind.

Starting the 13-mile singletrack loop (Zion Curtain Trail), I could see the first 3 riders, which were now separated from one another.  I consider myself a pretty good technical rider, so I wasn’t too concerned and was still riding my own pace.  I quickly realized that the technical rider part of me, decided not to show up on this race day as I almost endo-ed over the first ledge system, losing my rear wattle bottle in the process.  For the remainder of the loop, I was unable to get in a rhythm and was bouncing all over the technical singletrack.

The singletrack was very diverse and consisted of sagebrush singletrack, steep pitchy climbs and descents, slick rock, canyon overlooks, chutes and pinyon-juniper woodlands.  I couldn’t believe how technical the trail was and was getting beat up pretty bad due to my inadequate skills and lack of flow.  I ended up conceding 1 spot during the singletrack section and was now in 5th place.  After the singletrack, there was a very steep climb to another desert plateau and then 6 miles to the turnaround spot.

The nice thing about out and back races is you get to see where everyone is, which put me  just under a mile from the current leader of the race at the half way point.  On the way back, I was kind of dreading the singletrack loop again, but it turned out to flow a lot better in the opposite direction.  I was also thinking about Beth a lot and was wondering how she was handling the singletrack since I knew she had never really even seen or tried to ride anything like it before.  I saw Beth just as I was beginning the singletrack section, while trying to hang on 3rd places wheel.  I saw Beth and she was waving to me and said everything was okay, and she seemed in good spirits. It was really hard not to stop and talk because I was actually more vested into her race than mine. The climb back up to the top of the mesa on the singletrack loop involved a lot of suffering and a little loopiness that is pretty common towards the end of an endurance mountain bike race.  It wasn’t until mile 40 or so that I finally started to feel strong and my technical skills came back to me.  Coincidentally, this is when the SONG popped into my head and I started to get “Rad” as I like to tell myself.

The singletrack started to flow and my body was no longer in survival mode.  I finished the singletrack in 3rd position after 1st place had crashed and significantly slowed him down for the remainder of the race.  The last 10 miles were all on the Kokopelli Trail and I just hammered it, but assumed 1st and 2nd place was far from reach since I hadn’t seen either one since the first 3rd of the singletrack section.  Nearing the final mile and last steep climb, I spotted 2nd place, which looked like he was fading up the climb.  I couldn’t believe it and charged up the climb trying to close the gap, but ended up coming up short by 13 seconds by the time I reached the finish line in just over 5 hours 15 minutes.  1st place ended up only being just less than 3 minutes ahead of me! 

After recovering a bit and getting some food back at camp, I went back to the finish line and checked with the Race Director to see if he could tell me what check point Beth last passed.  I found out Beth was out on her second loop of the singletrack and was expected at the next aid station within the next 15 minutes.  I ended up driving as far as I could on the Kokopelli Trail with the Subaru, which was only about 3 miles, to wait and cheer Beth on for her final few miles.  This was actually one of the highlights of the weekend, when I was just sitting in the desert for about an hour, observing its vastness and enjoying the quite solitude.
Beth arrived and looked strong and just blew by me declining any food or drink.  I drove back to the finish line to see her finish and congratulate her.  Upon finishing, the Race Director was asking her how it was and she stated that “she was now a better mountain biker now than she was this morning.”  The cool thing about travelling to mountain bike races is you get to experience such different trails and challenges.  This race was definitely an achievement to just finish with its technical stature let alone race it.  I was so proud of Beth and how positive she was during her race.

Final few miles of the Kokopelli Trail
So, if you are curious of what the SONG that got stuck in my head during my race is, check it out (Google Iggy Azalea Fancy), but be forewarned, it may pop into your head next time you enter the pain cave.  After doing a little research and watching the video, I am little embarrassed about even admitting to listening to this song and even liking its “catchy” beat.  By the way, I haven’t heard the song since.

What’s the worst (or best) song that’s gotten stuck in your head during your races?