Finally got around to MTB racing again this past weekend. Hadn't raced a MTB race since April 2010. Of course a lot has happened since then so I haven't exactly been bored. I had no expecations for this race. Just wanted to get back into the swing of things. The 4hr Solo race had the same format that i'm used to doing for the 3hr "endurance" races: Go just as fast as if it was a 2hr race, just do it for an extra hour +. Well, 4hrs (minumum) is a bit different than 3, but I did the only thing I know how: Start at the front, lead out the first lap as fast as possible, and try to hang on from there. Starting on the front was no problem. Led up the first big-ring start hill till the altitude got the better of me. I eased up and let one guy go by me and stayed a few seconds behind him while I caught my breath a bit. The rest of the field though it best not to do what we did up the first climb and were back a ways. The first climb stair-stepped up a bit, all big-ring stuff, before the first cool downhill section. Pretty rocky and fast. New bike was a dream through this section and I easily caught the guy in front. He led up the next technical single track climb. Towards the top he pulled over with some kinda of mechanical so I found myself along in front. Over the top it opened up into some fast wide-open slightly down-hill dirt road. A bit more singletrack track climbing led to more wide-open slightly down hill dirt road. A cool flat singletrack across a meadow led to the day's first obstacle: a 4ft high, 100 foot long pile of snow to run through. Running during mtb races always presents unique opportunities. After this section, the piles of snow had either a line going around them OR a line cut right through them. These were really cool. The only thing that wasn't cool was the 35 degree ice-cold run-of f that was flowing everywhere. A constant spray for the next mile or so. After this section, it was another fast rocky dirt road descent to the laps main climb near the end. Nothing steep but it was covered in loose rock so getting out of the saddle was out of the question. Over the top, it led straight into a slightly uphill single track climb, then straight into a dirt road climb. These 3 climbs were really just 1 long climb. Over the top finally and it was flat to rolling to the start-finish area. Came through the first lap with what would eventually be the fastest lap of the day (under 53mins) . No way I was doing another one of those. A could see a group about 1 minute back. I put it into a reasonable cruise mode and clipped off consistent 2nd and 3rd laps (ended up being 54 and 56mins). I was doing 1 Gel per lap and drinking constantly. The 4th lap seemed the hardest (ended up being 59mins). I hadn't touched the granny gear yet but heading up the laps last climb, the hamstrings started locking up so I shifted down and spun super easy. that kept them from getting any worse. I came through 4 laps in 3:42 so out for a 5th lap I went. I knew the gap back to 2nd had been steadily going up each lap but I still needed to survive the lap. Before the race, they had announced that in order for your last lap to count, it had to be faster than the "average lap time", whatever that was. That ended up being 65 mins. Even in my exhausted state, I did a quick mental calculation and decided that 65 mins wasn't much slower than the lap I just did (59min). The legs were definitely getting heavy, but still pedaling smoothing. I tried to stay smooth on the climbs and get some "free time" pedaling the slightly downhill sections. Once I got up the final series of climbs without blowing up or cramping, I could push it more without risk. Somehow did the last lap in 58mins for a final time of 4:40:40 for 50miles. I was definitely spent after the finish and very surprised. I only had straight water, 1 full bottle and not-even my full hydro pack. Did 1 gel before the start, 1 more every lap, 2 on the 4th lap, none the last lap. I can safely guarantee that the race announcer consumed more calories during my race than I did.
This wasn't the longest MTB race I've ever done but it did make the top 4 list (of races I can recall anyway):
1) Brianhead Epic 100 mile MTB race in 2002(?) : 100 miles in 8hrs 45 min
2) Team Big Bear 12hr MTB race: Raced 6hrs out of 12 hrs (2-man relay) miles unknown
3) Norba National Marathon, Phoenix AZ 2005 : 81 miles in 5:41
4) Tahoe 4hr MTB Race : 50 miles in 4hrs 40min