2015 Lost and Found Gravel Grinder on a FATBIKE (100 miles)

AID STATION LOCATIONS:

  1. Coot Bay – 0.0
  2. 24N85Y Road/24N07 Road intersection – 21.3 miles
  3. 70 Road/28N01 Road intersection – 40.2 miles
  4. 111 Road/24N08 Road intersection – 53.4 miles
  5. 111 Road/Flournoy Bridge crossing – 67.6 miles
  6. Genesee Road/112 Road intersection – 71.7
  7. 112 Road – 78 miles
  8. 112 Road/Nye Meadows Rd – 84 miles
  9. Coot Bay –100 miles

Before

The 2015 Lost and Found was a big step into the unknown for me.  I had absolutely minimal seat time on my chosen steed and not much of an idea what to expect on the course.  I was also very worried that my new tubeless setup would have a major catastrophe as it was only completed the day before and had lost quite a lot of pressure overnight in the Truckee hotel room.I decided to carry a selection of tools and spares with me just incase Fatty Lumpkin decided to throw a tantrum.

Looking at the route plan  it looked like the event was very generously stocked with aid stations so the single bottle cage on the bike didn’t concern me so much. I thought 1 bottle every 20 miles with some extra fluid at every rest stop should be plenty in the cool mountain air.  Unfortunately the cool mountain air didn’t last for very long and we were in for a warm one.

According to the results there were 229 riders registered in the Amateur 100 mile category which seemed about right when I looked around at the sea of riders.  I was the only fatbike and “Fatty Lumpkin” turned out to be a real conversation piece which helped me to relax and look forward to task in hand.  Some of the riders who had ridden it before dropped some no so subtle hints that I was in for a world of hurt trying to do the 100 miler on a Fatty.

My plan was to try to ride the event as more of  century ride  than a race but I knew I had to push hard for the first 54 miles to beat the cutoff.  To do this I had to average over 13MPH which didn’t sound to be too difficult but I wanted to have as much time in hand as I could just incase I had a mechanical.

The race set off at a fairly steady pace on tarmac and I was doing OK near the front of the pack spinning away in the mid twenties. I saw my friend Greg on his new Carbon Kona CX bike and he was less than kind regarding my choice of steed but was suffering with his own issues in terms of a broken spoke.  After about 5 miles we hit the dirt and we were engulfed in a cloud of dust.  The pace picked up but I was still doing OK and managing to keep up with the faster machinery. The fire road was in pretty good condition apart from random big potholes that had me glad of my big tires.

After a few miles we hit a hard 90 degree turn with lots of loose gravel and the race was really on. The fatbike really felt good on this loose rocky surface and I managed to hang onto the front racers as we thinned out to two lines of  riders rather than a big bunch.  The trail we were on had occasional big puddle sinkholes but If you were looking ahead it was easy to miss them or so I thought.  On the biggest sink hole of them all at the last minute I had to swerve round a rider that completely bottled out and hit the puddle dead center. It was deep enough for the big fat tires to feel like they were aquaplaning and I very nearly came down but somehow the Huskers found some grip and I got through. This mishap took the wind out of my sails and I lost contact with the leaders. It also covered both myself and the bike completely in mud and smelly water.

It took me a while to get back into a rhythm but I managed to catch back up with my mate Greg and a few other riders and was feeling surprisingly good on the fat bike.  I glanced down at my pulse for the first time and realized I was working a lot harder than I should be with a long way to go but I felt pretty good. Soon However, I began to notice that I was struggling to hang on to the other riders on the smoother flatter stuff and really struggling on the uphill bits.  If the uphill was rocky and technical I could gain lots of places but on the smoother climbs I was in trouble.  “Fatty Lumpkin’s” abilities on the rougher or softer stuff were very satisfying. I felt like I was driving a scorpion tank that nothing could stop.

At mile 15 on a pretty long climb I was making good progress as the terrain favored fat tires over CX and mountain bikes. I realized I hadn’t drunk much so I decided to blow the first aid station at mile 21.3 (Big mistake).  The climb went on for a quite a bit longer and the riders really thinned out so that I was on my own.  I think the adrenaline rush wore off at this point as I started to feel fatigued for the first time. This was not a good thing with over 75 miles to go.  The first major descent was great fun but I was a bit cautious, as I didn’t really have enough experience riding the beast yet. It was the first long extended flat section after this where I really began to notice the drag of the fatbike.

Mile 40 rest stop 2 (approx. 2.5 Hours)16MPH Average

On the road before rest stop 2 I was out of water and struggling to keep a good pace.  Quite a few groups passed me and there was nothing I could do to hang onto them.  20MPH on the fatbike was really quite hard work (even with a tailwind) and when the groups came past at 25MPH plus I just couldn’t sustain that sort of speed for any length of time.  I was so relieved to get to the rest stop and have something to drink and eat.

I don’t actually remember much about the next section to the 54 mile cut off other than I had to push pretty hard and I wasn’t very happy on the exposed rolling fireroads.  Whenever the trail turned into the wind I had to dig pretty deep and I could see my average speed ebbing away.  I knew I had enough time in hand but just wanted to get to that cut off.  As riders passed me they all offered me words of encouragement or jokes about the fatty and this really lifted my spirits.  My drive train was getting really noisy (blame that darn mud hole) and the rear derailleur kept going out of adjustment, which was driving me mad. I was hoping they had some lube at the next aid station.

Mile 54.3 rest stop 3 (approx. 3.5 hours) 15.5 MPH average

I hit the cutoff checkpoint with time to spare and took that time to get some fluids and food along with a bathroom break that had been long overdue since mile 10 (Oh the relief !).  The bathroom break indicated that I had not been drinking enough and I vowed that not one single rest stop would be missed from now on.  Fortunately they also had some chain lube and I took full advantage.

Leaving the rest stop it was time to just worry about finishing rather than time and I set off at a slightly more relaxed pace with a silky smooth chain.  Somewhere along this section there was a fantastic long descent that was great fun but my arms  and wrists were feeling a bit tired and sore.  I think the 14 PSI I had chosen for the tires was a little high and as such wasn’t able to take full advantage on the downhill.  All the hairpin turns on the downhill were wash boarded which was quite bouncy for me.  For the first time in a long while I actually caught and passed people so I felt encouraged that I could finish.

Mile 67.6 rest stop 4. (approx. 4.3 hours) 15.7 MPH average

After the next rest stop there was quite a long road section that was slightly uphill into a brisk headwind.  The scenery on this section was very pleasant on the eye but the fatbike seemed to really drag. I got as low as I could but my average speed was not good and quite a few people passed me.  I was feeling very tired and knew somewhere up ahead there was the monster climb.  I decided not to stop at rest stop 5 as it was only at 71.7 miles and just after it the climbing began in earnest.

The Walker Mine Road Climb (9.3 miles from 4,000ft to just under 6,000ft) was where I went bang in a big way and ended up running on impulse power only.  It seemed to be never ending and it was getting pretty hot.  I was down in my bottom two gears in many places and started to suffer from numerous bouts of cramp.  The climb was rolling in nature with steep up hills, false flats and down hills. The down hills were soul crushing, as I knew from my Garmin that I had to get close to 6000ft at some point and every down hill took me further away from that goal.  The extra 2 rest stops on the climb and helpful volunteers were an absolute godsend.

Mile 84 rest stop 6 (approx. 6.25 hours) 13.4MPH average

I finally crested the beast at 84 miles, which meant a rolling downhill/flat for 14.5 miles to the finish. It took me about 2 hours to do 16.4 miles which works out about 8.4 MPH average !

On the last 14 miles I was totally spent and got passed by quite a few riders.  My wrists were hurting pretty bad and I was starting to get saddle sore. I also was suffering from painful cramp at regular intervals. At one point I got caught by a group of Metromint riders (same team my wife rides for) and I attempted to ride with them but my legs cramped badly.  Those last 14 miles took me a whole hour.

Position: 82nd out of 155 finishers (229 entries) 7H14m19s

When I finished I was very tired and had lost my voice.  The nice chaps from cyclocross magazine came across to interview me about my crazy bike choice but I was in no fit state to be interviewed.  I was really happy to have been the first fatbike finisher for this course but I felt decidedly unwell.  I later found that I was pretty badly dehydrated and had lost 7 pounds of fluid when I weighed myself next morning. I am not sure racing at altitude agrees with me.

After – Doesn’t look like a new bike anymore

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