For the 2013 edition of the Mega Monster Enduro I shifted back to a road bike rather than my preferred recumbent. I am on a training program that means I have had to moth ball the recumbents for a while. My chosen steed was my trusty Lemond Titanium. It isn’t the fastest bike in my stable but it is comfy on the long haul.
The mega monster enduro is a course that has 5000ft of climbing but it is still a course where aerodynamics play a factor. I decided not to bother with fancy wheels but fitted some mini TT bars to help on the inevitable hard headwind bits. I did a short test ride on the bars and they felt pretty comfortable but for the event they didn’t really work out for me.
My Lemond has a pretty long top tube and stem which is good for aerodynamics but put me in a less than ideal position on the TT bars. The seat position is also set well back of the bottom bracket which means my hip angle wasn’t very good either. During the Monster I found that my hips got uncomfortable whilst on the TT bars and my arms and neck actually felt a little uncomfortable too. When I did my 20 mile test on the bars last week I didn’t notice this so much but on the bumpy roads of the Paicines course I found myself only able to use them for about a mile at a time.
Mini TT Bars
On race day the weather was really cold (for California) and on the way down I passed many frosty fields and iced up cars. The actual temperature when I arrived was just above 30 degrees. The cold weather meant big lines for the Porta Potty and I had to wait for 20 minutes in the cold to use the facilities. I decided that there was absolutely no point in warming up before the race.
Miles 0 to 32:
I started the course with a plan to keep my pulse between 140-160 if possible and to see what happened. The first 10 miles were cold but I felt ok other than my nose constantly dripping from the cold air. I felt good on the Bear Valley Climb and set a personal best whilst still keeping my pulse below 166bpm. I caught quite a few riders over the next few miles and just passed a fast looking triathlete before the fun descent down to the Bitterwater checkpoint. Up until this point the winds had been pretty light with the only wind seeming to be areo-dynamic drag. As I hit the long fast straight down to the checkpoint I was blasted by a nasty cold cross/headwind that was pretty unpleasant. The triathlete took advantage of his full TT setup and blasted away from me especially as I couldn’t really take advantage of my TT bars.
I arrived at the first checkpoint at mile 32 and stopped only long enough to give my number and then set off on what I hoped would be a fast run into the 50 mile turn. My time was 1h38m which put me in 8th place and exactly the same time as I did it in the rain on my recumbent in 2012.
Miles 32 to 51:
The next few miles were harder than I was expecting and some of the downhills that are usually really fast were hampered by a cold headwind. I was really wishing I was on my recumbent on this bit. As I hit the rolling 5 miles to the turn I was starting to feel pretty tired and fed up but I always feel bad on this section so I wasn’t concerned. It felt like a headwind, which is unusual for this bit, and I was passed by a team of two riders who seemed to be enjoying themselves more than I was.
I got to the 51 mile checkpoint in 54 minutes which put my total time around 2h30m but I was only 10th fastest on this section. I was 5 minutes slower than my recumbent time last year which wasn’t a great surprise. Due to the cold I had only drank one bottle to this point but I filled up so that I would have two full bottles for the return leg. I had also been neglecting my food a bit as I had only had two Cliff Gel blocks in first 50 miles. The cold had made the Shot Blocks pretty hard and difficult to chew especially as I couldn’t breathe properly through my constantly running nose.
Miles 51 to 70:
I was pleased to find that there was a bit of a tailwind at the start of the return leg and I took advantage of it to try to eat a peanut butter and jelly Bonk Breaker. The cold had made the bonk breaker pretty hard and difficult to eat and I struggled to get it down. It blocked up my mouth and was generally unpleasant. I normally really like Bonk Breakers but for this ride it turned out to be a mistake. I would have been much better off with real food.
I was making good progress up until the climb at mile 64 where the course turned back into the wind and my legs started to cramp. From this point up until Bitterwater at mile 70 my legs started to feel really bad but I soldiered on. I got to Bitterwater in 1h02m (9th place for this segment). By comparison it only took me 43 minutes to do this on the recumbent last year which is a huge difference for a mainly up hill leg. My legs felt extremely fatigued and I wasnt looking forward to the next climb.
Miles 70 to 102:
As I set off on the climb for the final leg I was having all sorts of leg problems and was on the cusp of cramping even though there was a nice tailwind. I pretty much blew up from this point on-wards and the cold wind really got to me. I had given up in the mini TT bars as they exasperated the cramping and I had given up all though of a good time. The actual climbing sections were a relief as even though they were hard on the legs there was little to no wind. The section from mile 80 to the bear valley descent around mile 90 was horrible and I went through the negotiating routine that will be familiar to any endurance athletes. Just one more mile and I will take a drink, just get to the top of this hill and I will go down on the drops etc etc. Around mile 90 I dropped my bottle and when I stopped to pick it up I got a nasty twinge of cramp in my legs, feet and hands and I seriously considered just sitting down by the side of the road and having a very long rest. I noticed at this point that my constantly dripping nose was making a real mess of my top tube and my nice new team kit.
Snotty Top Tube
While I was feeling sorry for myself I was passed by the team of two riders, that I last saw at the rest stop at mile 51, and this gave me renewed determination to continue. I ate a bunch of Shotblocks and drank a big swig of Perpeteum and set off on the final 11 miles to the finish. The combination of rough roads and a troublesome cold headwind made this rolling section very nasty. I was pretty much in limp home mode at this point and the rolling hills felt like mountains. If you look at the course profile you would think this section was pretty much down hill but it didn’t feel like it. I was so happy to finally get to the finish but I was a beaten man. My time for the final leg was an appalling 1h54m which was 12th fastest. I was shocked to see that this time was actually 8 minutes faster than I did on my recumbent last year (the first climbing section and bad weather must really have hurt the recumbent time)
Comparison of my 2012 vs 2013 efforts
My overall position was 8th place in the solo category which I was actually really pleased with but I was nearly 15 minutes slower than my recumbent time from 2012.
Next Year Back to a recumbent !