Tomorrow is a big day - for many reasons. First, it's Andy's 100th race. Think about that - 100 races that Sand Creek Sports has either hosted or helped with organization. That's a lot of time, effort and dedication to our sport - with not a lot of return except for the smiles of happy and exhausted riders. My first exposure to mountain biking came in the 2008 Sand Creek Series. It was my first year mountain biking and the three courses at Bear Creek Terrace were more then challenging. The series was small enough to only have two starts back then - and as a Cat 2, I was racing with the Big Girls - the pros and the cat 1 riders. Now, there are three starts and I guess I'm one of those big girls now. I've been racing and writing since 2012, and having a blast watching and reporting from the inside. Hopefully everyone else has had as much fun reading and maybe even learned something! The series has grown and has helped develop both the current and future generations of riders. We are lucky to have such fun events right in our back yard. Everyone who helps with races deserves a shout out - from registration to medical, the course marshals to the officials and of course Andy. Thank you.
Now to the race tomorrow. Seriously - this is a big one. Not the usual hour of suffering the Ascent Cycling Series is known for dishing out, but a monster of a day. We raced this course last year, with lap counts ranging from 4 for the pros to 2 laps for the cat 3s. This year? Nine laps - 47.7 miles of singletrack and rocks. The fastest pros will finish in just under five hours - I'm hoping for about 6:00. Yep. It's going to be that long. And I'm looking forward to every hour of riding. But with race of this length come a few things that aren't necessary important for the shorter events.
Hydration - the long race starts at 9:00, so it's going to be warm and getting toasty. The benefit of doing a short lap course is the ease of getting fresh, cold fluids. I'm gonna have a cooler full of bottles - about one per lap. The focus in the bottles will be for fluids and electrolyte replacement. With temperatures predicated to be in the 90s, staying hydrated will be important.
Food - maybe a gel for an hour race. Not here - time for some real food that's going to keep me moving all six hours. Just gels isn't going to cut it. Thanks to my years of long distance I have good experience with real foods. Everyone is different and what works for me might not work for you.
Pacing - for an hour race, pacing is easy. Go all out and hope to hang on - at least that's been my strategy. For the nine laps of fun at CMPS, pacing will be important. Going too hard will lead to an implosion, but not hard enough might cause some jams in the first sections of singletrack. It's a fine line of what's good for a long day in the saddle.
Support - having someone able to help with bottle hand ups, food and counting laps will mean one thing. All you have to focus in is riding your bike.
Technical - as the race gets longer, the technical Cougars Shadow will get harder. It will be easy to make silly and possible race ending mistakes. Be smart on the first laps and identify where the challenging sections are. I know I'm going to be doing some walking - both to save energy and prevent crashing.
Most important - enjoy the ride. It's not every day that we have the chance to race a marathon mtb race within a 15 minute drive of our house. It's going to be a good, long day and I hope to see plenty of familiar faces taking the challenge.