Tag rudy project

Ouachita Challenge Weekend



Two weekends ago was a whirlwind of amazing experiences, challenging rides, pleasant surprises, and minor disappointments. So much happened, but I’ll stick to the highlights and try to tell as much of the story with pictures.

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It all took place just outside Hot Springs, Arkansas.

TheOuachita Challenge Course Map Ouachita Challenge. The 1st day was a 60 mile mountain bike tour. The 2nd day was a race on the same kick ass trails. The plan was to ride easy and have a chill day with the guys from SweatBloodDirt.com for the tour on Saturday. Then throw down at Sunday’s race.

 

 Saturday

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Adam, Craig, and I ready for a long fun day in the saddle.

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I wanted to make sure everyone knew who I was.

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The Blues Brothers showing us the way. I had that song “Soul Man” stuck in my head for the next 2 hours.

All smile at aid station #2

All smiles at aid station #2

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Water crossing number… 6?7?8? of 20?21?

Just over 7 hours later, the 2 wheeled fun had come to and end for day 1. Made a bunch of new friends, rode some sweet trails, and set a new personal record for number of pickles consumed in one ride. A great raffle and pasta dinner kept us busy before we laid down to rest for another night of sleep in the school gymnasium. Holy cow, mountain bikers can snore loud!

Sunday

Ouachita Challenge

The race began with a neutral start (we roll out together, but don’t actually start racing until a few miles in), which was nice for me because the body was a little sore from the day before. Just before we had our first water crossing, it was go time. The lead vehicle pulled out of the way and the pace picked up.

As I have said in previous blogs, I know I’m not the strongest rider on straight, flat dirt roads. So for 3 miles or so, I sat in the pack and hung on. But once we turned off the road and onto the single track, I was pleasantly surprised. I slightly eased off the pace that we had going on the road (when I say eased off the pace, I mean we went from REALLY F*#KING HARD, to slightly less F*#KING HARD), but becuase of the rocks, roots, twists, and turns, that pace was somehow to fast for the rest of the riders I was with. I quickly moved up to 3rd and was bearing down on the 2 in front of me.

 Leading the Ouachita ChallengeBy the half way point, I had nearly a 4 minute lead over the rest of the field. I felt fantastic and if you had asked me if I could hold that effort and win the race I would have shouted back a big “HELL YES!” with a big smile on my face. I had followed my nutrition plan (Powerbar Gel’s and Perform sports drink) to the T, but around mile 40 all of that changed in the blink of an eye. As if someone had flipped a switch, the wheels completely feel off. In just a matter of minutes I went from king of the world, to drooling dunce. I struggled to the final aid station, and proceeded to down a couple of cokes and an entire package of cookies in about 5 minutes. With a woozie head, I hopped back on the bike, pushed when I could, and came across the line in 10th place in a time of 5:01:44.

Holding on for 10thWhy did that fantastic bonk happen? How could I hit the wall so hard? (And mind you, I see the following reason as a lesson learned the hard way, not an excuse). Well, as tough as I think I am, there is a limit to what my body can handle. 7 hours in the saddle the day before really drained my body of it’s precious fat stores and by not replenishing those properly after the race, when I emptied the tank on Sunday, IT WAS EMPTY! Nothing left to fall back on.

At the end of the day, I would actually say that I was very, very happy with my race. Why? Becuase like my coach says all the time “You can’t fake good.” Had I not ridden the day before, or actually eaten like I should have, the pace that I had early in the race would have continued and I would have picked up the W. You can’t fake that type of fitness. That has me quite excited for my next few mountain bike races coming up.

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Helping out with a little post ride announcing.

 

Huge HUGE thanks to Craig Roberson for setting all of this up for me. Adam and Kurt for transportation to and from the race and giving me a bed before and after the race. It’s trips like this that remind me that I’m doing what I love and that there is so much fun to be had out there.

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A Mental Battle



Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike RaceThis past weekend, I raced the Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike Race just outside of Austin, TX. Being my first 12 hour solo race, I tried to plan as much as possible, but one thing I didn’t count on was battling food poisoning for 5 days prior. With only 3 full meals in my belly before Saturday morning, I wasn’t exactly toeing the line at 100%. It didn’t matter though because I had worked my ass off for months leading up to this and I wasn’t going to let a little sickness keep me from giving it everything I had.

What I didn’t realize was that not only would this race be immensely physically challenging, but by the end, it would be a massive mental battle as well.  I can’t count how many times I wanted to quit throughout the day. Sometimes because of the physical pain I was in, other times because I knew what was still to come. But time and time again, I found a way to push through. Some times it wasn’t me who gave the push, it was my amazing girlfriend (and support crew) Jennifer. She’d tell me to suck it up and just keep pushing.

Dirty Dozen 12hr MTB RaceThat reminds me of one of the biggest surprised I discovered on that day. You’re support crew is INSANELY important! Had I not had Jennifer there with a fresh bottle of PowerBar Perform every lap, handing me food and words of encouragement along the way, I couldn’t have gone half as far as I did. A huge thank you to her!

Throughout the race, I had many ups and downs both physically and mentally. Some easier to push through than others. The toughest downer started about 7 laps in (I completed 18 laps total = 134miles). Due to my depleted levels of energy stores going into the race (I had lost 5lbs in 5 days), I started having severe cramping. I had to back off my pace greatly and even get off the bike a few times to stretch out my twitching muscles. It took Jennifer’s encouragement and a lot of internal cursing at myself to push through the pain. I drank like a fish the next few laps and started to rebound a bit by around 3pm.

Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike RaceDuring those difficult laps, I lost the 20 minute lead that I had built up over the first 7 laps, and was never able to make a charge back up to the lead. By the end of the day, it was pretty obvious talking with the timing crew that I was set in 3rd place. That made the last few laps in the dark a bit more enjoyable because I was no longer having to worry about racing, just having fun cruising.

Dirty Dozen 12hr Mountain Bike RaceA few things I was incredibly thankful for were that the bike worked perfect, all of my Rudy Project gear (helmet, sunglasses, and kit) worked perfectly throughout the day, I never had to dab (other than to get off for cramps), I never had a flat, and my lights were amazing! Not having to worry about your gear was a big stress reliever. It was the bio-mechanical issues that left me hurting.

So would I do it again? I’m not sure. I feel if I hadn’t been sick for 5 days, I would have been able to hold the pace I set early on in the race and victory would have been mine. But at the same time, 12 hours is a LONG FREAKIN TIME and I’m not sure I want to punish myself for that long again. So for the time being, I think I’ll stick with 5-6 hour races max and see if the bug comes back for a 12hour.

Big thanks to the guys at BobCat13 Photo for being out there all day getting some great shots!

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On To The Next Season



The 2012 season officially ended for me at the Rev3 Florida Half Rev in October. I didn’t have the race that I was hoping for (for the same reason Kenny was late to class), but that didn’t upset me at all. I was done and got to spend the next 2 weeks gorging on all the foods that I refrained from eating the past 11 months. To list a few:

  • $14 worth of Taco Bell. That stuff’s cheap, so that actually amounts to a lot
  • An entire package of Oreo’s (several times)
  • Those disgusting Tontino’s pizzas. Stick them in the oven, they’re crispy. In the microwave and you’ve got a calzone
  • An entire box of ice cream. Red Velvet flavor should be illegal it’s so good!
  • Corndogs, corndogs, and more corndogs

But now I’m back at it and looking towards the 2013 season. It’s funny how 2 weeks off can fully recharge the motivation batteries.

2013 is gonna have more endurance mountain bike races for me. If you have any good suggestions on venues, let me know!

For the time being, getting back into training, buying a home, searching for sponsorships, and trying to drop the 5lbs that I gained in my 2 weeks off are keeping me pretty busy! Back to the [super fun] grind!

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A Somewhat Surprising Finish



Going into a race, there are many feelings that flow through my body. Some races have me nearly wetting my pants I get so excited. New races bring the excitement and anxiousness of unknown possibilities. While others have me dreading the inevitable pain I will put myself through. The XTERRA USA Championship in Ogden, UT is mostly the latter. It can be hard to get motivated when you know the suffering that is to come, but finally by Friday morning before the race, I found it.

Hitting the trails that morning for the final pre ride with CraigBoobsLuke, and Branden must have done the trick. The colors were absolutely amazing at that time of year with orange, red, yellow, and a few green leaves creating a colorful kaleidoscope surrounding the smooth single track of Snow Basin. We laughed as much as we pedaled and by the end of it, I found the mental state I needed to be in to have a good race.

 

On race morning, I was super duper mega excited to finally get to race in my BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit. So many of the races have been non wetsuit swims for the pros this year, that my speed suit saw way more action than my wettie. I figured if this suit was good enough for theCaveman, it’s good enough for me. I’ve never owned a suit quite like this and I was so excited to finally see it in action.

Despite the fact that I got absolutely pounded during the first couple hundred meters (Those Brits are rough), I kept my mind focused and had my best swim to date. How do I know it was my best? I’ll tell you. I base all of my race swims off of the lead swimmers. That way there is no wondering if the course was short or long. I was either slow or not. And that day, I was not.

As I sped through transition and hopped onto my bike, I was a little confused. “What are you doing back here?!?” I thought to myself as I surveyed my competition. Then I realized “Holy crap! They aren’t back here. I’m up there!”

I wish I could say that my bike performance made me just as happy as my swim, but it just wasn’t my day. I wasn’t slow, but I wasn’t stellar either. The legs weren’t feeling it on the bike, so I settled into a comfortable groove on the uphills and tried to absolutely rip the descents. I’m still not sure exactly how they knew, but my legs told me that they could run fast that day. With that in mind, I kept calm and collected as I was caught by a few guys and passed a few on the bike.

Then came my moment to shine. As we hit T2 and blasted through, the field was completely stacked on top of each other. 12th place through 6th exited T2 about 1 minute apart from each other. I felt comfortable and more importantly confident in my abilities as we dashed off into the woods. I started picking them off one by one and with less than 2 miles of straight downhill to go, I caught the last two guys I knew were catchable (Ryan Ignatz and Cody Waite). I surged and the smile on my face grew.

I fought off the cramps in every leg muscle I had (and a few I didn’t know about until later) and was able to keep my lead on those two and crossed the line in 7th place. I was a bit surprised I was able to do that! My coach, my girlfriend, and fellow racers had all said they knew I could do it, but I didn’t quite believe it until I did it. What an amazing feeling! And with that finish I was able to maintain my 6th place ranking in the USA Pro Points Series for 2012. Yippie!

It was time to celebrate! So what did we do? Learn to surf sounds like a fun idea!?! I’d never surfed behind a boat before, so it seemed like time to try it out.

Surfing that afternoon and a giant piece of chocolate cake that night was about the craziest celebration you can expect in Utah, but I certainly wasn’t complaining. All and all, what a great way to end the off-road season.

A huge thanks to TimexRudy ProjectPowerBarHoly Crapmix1, and my newest sponsor Peak Performance Acupuncture for all the support that helped to make the culmination of my XTERRA season a huge success!

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XTERRA East Champs



In the words of Dave “Kahuna” Nicholas – “It only took you 10 years to become an over night sensation.”

On June 10th, I had my best finish ever at an XTERRA regional race. These are the big races in the states where all the fastest guys come together and I couldn’t have been happier to be in the mix of it and finish on the podium.

One of the most exciting things for me, was showing that what happened at the ITU Cross Triathlon World Champs wasn’t a fluke.  I was able to ride and run my way up to the front of the race again, and if I can ever learn how to swim faster (maybe this could help http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS589zKAlnY) I could be in contention for the win.

The race started out with the usual “few minutes back” swim for me. But just like Cross Worlds, I didn’t let that deter me. I grabbed my GPS tracking chip that Luck Stone had set up for all the pros, and took off like a rocket out of T1. These GPS chips allowed anyone with computer access or at the venue to watch the pro race unfold live! Pretty cool stuff and I really see this as a key way to grow the sport.

On the bike, I put my mountain bike skillz (yes skillz with a “z”) to use and worked my way up. At one point, I passed Branden Rakita and moved into 3rd. 3rd place! I’ve never been in 3rd at a big race like this. It wasn’t long lasting though as Josiah Middaugh blasted by us throwing down some insane power. I was able to hold onto him (after he backed off a little) and we cruised into T2 together in 3rd and 4th.

My legs weren’t quite as sharp as the last race, but they still had some get up and go. Josiah took off and eventually ran down Criag Evans for 2nd place. I plugged along for the first half of the run, with Branden gaining on me. Once we hit the wooded singletrack and river crossing though, I got my second wind. I picked up the pace to open up a bit of a gap on Branden and cross the finish line in 4th. That’s right, 4th!

After the race, my face hurt more than my legs. I couldn’t wipe the ear-to-ear grin from my sweaty mug. The IV helped me bounce back so that I could rally and celebrate with a few beers with everyone later that evening.

I was stoked to be able to tell my sponsors – Timex, Rudy Project, PowerBar, Holy Crap, LifeSport Chiro – that I did them proud again and they could expect a lot more of the same.

This now moves me up to 7th in the XTERRA USA Pro Points Series. So come July 14th, I’ll be toeing the line in Beaver Creek, CO for the XTERRA Mountain Championship. I can’t wait!



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