Monday, August 17, 2009

Alter 8 Hour Race Report

There was a much smaller turnout at the Alter 8 Hour EndureO Mountain Bike Race then I had hoped for, but on the bright side there were more single speeders then I think there has been at any race this year. I figure there were about 4-5 singles crowding the start line.

We had a traditional Le Mann’s start (which I hate) to kick-start the race but everyone was pretty mellow (could have been the free beer or was it the rain) and we all went out pretty easy hanging back to see who would set the initial pace. However, as soon as we gained our bikes, it was clear that that mellow pace was a facadeas; the entire pack of team riders gunned it out of the start-finish area going into the first turn. By the time we reach the field and climbed up to the (now disused) Canada Cup Downhill I could already see one or two riders trying to make an early escape. Unfortunately, for me, I did not realize they were team riders, and gave chase.

This is an 8-hour race so you never really want to work that hard (at least I don’t) to catch up to anyone… so I just kept them in sight.

The race course consisted rolling hills with many flat sections connected by twisting Birch single track. There were two smaller gradual climbs, but nothing that would make you busts a nut, or which could in anyway clearly define mediocre riders from outstanding hammerheads. The most technical section was Paul’s Haul which we rode down at Mach-1. The slick mud on the cattle climb (which we descended) was lots of fun, but after two hours of racing and the appearance of the sun it soon turned into superglue and you could do no wrong. I would say the most challenging part of the course was overcoming the boredom that comes with constant repetition. To pass the time I created stupid limericks…Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee watch out here I come… 483! (You had to be there). Some body liked this childishness enough to give me a special award (obviously not an art critic).

My plan from the start was to stay on the bike, eat and drink constantly, and set a pace that would challenge all but the best of riders (while trying not to blow a gasket myself) . With two hours to go I would see who was still in the game, who had legs, and who had balls. After the first muddy and very cautious lap I realized that the distinct lack of climbing or any technical sections would make this a race of attrition rather than skill, or fitness. I settled into a slow-ish tempo; never going hard and never going slow. I stopped every lap for 30-seconds or so, drank a bottle of H20, oiled my chain, and stuffed a banana into my face. In this way I passed the first 6-hours without incident.

Then I had the lap from hell… went to a bad place… chowed down on some chips… promised myself I would do one more lap and see how I was feeling. At 6-hour 30-mins into the race I was wrestling with my inner demons but negotiated a truce for one more lap. I promised myself a cup of Java if I made it to the 7-hour mark; a cup I had brought for just such a mental emergence. I have been in this bad place before and know what it takes to make the final push to the top of the mountain. With that small caffeine kick in the ass I was able to put in the last and technically best lap of the day.

I could blog about my gearing, the weather, the food, the butt butter I used, the visitation by Greg of the nine fingers, the beer or any number of things that other people have already waxed on. What I would like to say, however, is that I love Enduro races for too many reasons to list. Most notably there is a positive vibe that you don’t get at your typical Cross Country Mountain Bike event. People just seem more laidback. Single speeders tend to come out of the woodwork for these events, and the organization seems to be that much better for the longer racers (go figure). There is more food, more riding, more laughter, and more shenanigans in general.

The best thing, however, about 8-hour events is finishing. Simple and pure! If you have never raced for 8-hours I would completely understand if you though it was because I hate my bike after a long long race. You might imagine I was crazy fatigued and cramping with every step. I don’t and I wasn’t. 8-hour races are short enough to be super fast and long enough to make you suffer deeply… very deeply. If you’re willing to push that hard your ass will start to feel like pounded hamburger. After 8-hours in the saddle it is nice to sit on a proper seat!

I think I need to go and build a cross bike or two. See ya at

Result Here... some time in the distant future but Here for now

MUETRO Points Here

What other people needed to say; Luk, D.J., Chris, Nathan, Cory, John

Pics (thanks to Greg of the nine fingers) Here, and others Here

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