Posted on 8:15 AM by Schottler
I love racing the Firecracker 50, for a few reasons. The atmosphere is incredible, the support is HUGE, and it's an immense challenge. This year I drove out by myself and with some traffic and car problems I showed up around 6pm. Just enough time to get my race number and do a short ride.
I rode the first climb of the course to try and get my legs loosened up for the 9:30am start time, which was just 1,400 feet of consistent climbing. I felt surprisingly good.
For breakfast I got some pre-race nom nom's from an awesome cafe in Dillon.
My plan for the race was to keep an eye on my heart rate and not go in the red. This didn't really work well. It pretty much just lead to me being dropped from the entire pro field on the first climb. I couldn't decide if I should just ride with them and hurt a lot and risk not being able to recover or race my own race and pick them off as I go. I chose the latter. Unfortunately this started killing my motivation and mentally I was already getting defeated. 30 minutes in my low back was destroyed, this meant whatever power I had left from the altitude was virtually cut in half. My legs wouldn't work and my heart rate would barely get over 160. This wasn't a very good recipe for racing well. The descents in this race are super fast double track with a lot of loose rock and off camber sections, very easy to screw up. My wrist was hurting bad, my weak left forearm couldn't hold on to the bar, which all meant I couldn't descend or control my bike. Awesome. The race started to just turn in to a bike ride. I couldn't do anything fast.
The race was lengthened and rerouted due to snow which added on another 4 miles with some more single track. After coming through the first 27 mile lap, my lap time was way off from where I wanted it to be. However my low back pain started to go away, or my mind was just starting to block it out. So, I had a little more power for this lap, but I still was having trouble getting my hr above 160. I have no idea what that's about, but I still couldn't go fast. I still managed to pick off a bunch of riders who were getting popped. This ended up being right at the top of my list of disappointing races I have done. I finished in 4:38, 18th out of 30 or so pro starters. I still felt fresh at the finish, which was a new experience, but makes sense considering I couldn't push myself. I could have easily gone out for another lap. I think if I was acclimated and had some time to program myself physically and mentally for 30+ minute climbs, I could cut 20 minutes off my time.
Tuesday I headed to Boulder to check it out and ride around. I was told of a good ride by Kris Thompson. I missed a turn somewhere and just kept climbing, 5,400 to 8,400 feet straight out of town. The roads, the town, and the atmosphere of Boulder are awesome. How do I not live here? Someone please find me a job.
Leadville 100 is on August 13th. I plan to give myself 2 weeks to acclimatize and train on hour long climbs. The plan to ride to KC this weekend has been dropped, my weakness right now is my high end, not my ability to motor all day long. Castlewood race this Saturday and Brommelseik the following weekend, but still some 5+ hour tempo rides.