Monday, August 3, 2009

I was doing GREAT…

I was doing GREAT…until I WASN’T!
[Guest blog # 2 by Phil Kriz]

Laramie Enduro – 111K or about 70 miles

This weekend Joanne and I took a road trip up to Laramie, Wyoming to participate in our favorite mountain bike race – the Laramie Enduro.

The Leadville 100 is the race that we train for all year and Leadville is by far a tougher endurance challenge, however since we use the Laramie Enduro as a training race it takes the pressure off and ups the fun factor!

Combine less stress over our performance with only 400 racers, wonderful race volunteers, incredible beautiful views, and the fun factor goes WAY up!

Joanne has said several times that it is too bad that it is a race, because she would like to just stop and enjoy the views - beautiful grass pastures with granite outcrops. Since we are racing, I have never stopped to take a picture, however I have noticed several racers stopping to do just that.

Driving to Laramie

If you have not taken the road from Ft Collins, Colorado to Laramie, Wyoming in the summer – it is definitely worth your time. Rolling undeveloped grass lands with cool granite outcrops heading into the Eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains.

As in years past, we drove into an incredibly ugly looking rain storm perched over Laramie and the low mountains to the East where the race is held.

We drove straight to the Fine Edge bike shop that hosts the race and registration. It was raining and looked like it was going to get really nasty.

Watching the rain, I kept thinking how lucky we were that we could afford a nice hotel rather than camping like many of the racers!

This year the registration process was totally dialed in compared to years past and there was no waiting in line to get registered - which was good for my ego. There are some pretty fit people that do these races, and it can be pretty intimidating standing in line with them and comparing my legs to theirs . . .

Friday night it rained hard until about 3 am, but true to the weather forecast we woke up to clear and sunny skies!

Race Day

We woke at 4 am to get breakfast early enough for it to digest before the race started at 7 am. We drove up to the race start/finish eleven miles East of Laramie and found a great parking spot. We set up our trainers to practice our coach’s race warm-up routine and proceeded to make a ton of noise with our knobby tires on the trainers. I felt sorry for the people parked next to us who were getting ready in quiet solitude until we showed up.

After warming up and changing to non-sweaty clothes we only had 15 minutes to get to the starting line - which eliminated a lot of standing around nervous time for me.

Right before the race started Joanne told me she was going do the race as a long tempo ride and not get caught up in the race part of it. I said I was going to push it, but not try to blow up.

So, we started a little more forward than in the past when we have purposely started close to dead last. I was hoping to not get caught up in slow lines on the beginning single track as in prior years.

About ten minutes into the race I noticed that Joanne had gotten ahead of me. So much for not getting caught up in the race! I kicked it up a little harder and managed to get ahead of her and then concentrated on trying to put some distance between us.

The First Fall

I was feeling great and climbing pretty well. We got off of some jeep trails and headed into single track in the trees. By this time, I had managed to put some distance ahead of the people behind me. (Keep in mind I am not even close nor never will be close to the front of the pack – to be in the front of the back 1/3 is good for me!)

The single track in the tree section was wet from the rain and criss-crossed with lots of tree roots. I noticed my “fast” small block Kenda tires were slipping on the roots and I really started concentrating on avoiding the roots or hitting them as square as possible. Just then a nasty root attacked and WHAM - I was down on my left side.

The first thing that went through my mind, was “GREAT - that didn’t even hurt! Hey, the bike is fine – quick get going before the next person catches you!” So, I took off no worse for wear and feeling quite lucky!!!

The Seven Mile Hill

The Laramie Enduro has a steep jeep trail at the seven mile mark that historically hurts a lot of people. Last year this hill caused 5 broken collar bones and one broken back. The hill is pretty much straight down and looks pretty harmless, until you notice that you are going over 30 mph and the road is covered with small round eroded granite pebbles.

Then come the ruts and then bad things happen very, very quickly.

Since we have done this race several times before, I rode the brakes the whole way and prayed Joanne would do the same.


The next seven miles have some very fast sections with water control berms that I call Whoop-Dee-Doos. You have to make sure you are off your saddle or they can buck you right over your handle bars.

A guy passed me and was jumping off of them, so I started to do the same thing. It was a ton of fun! But after about eight of them, I figured I had pushed my luck far enough and it was time to start riding more in control.

Mile 14

So, next I am riding down a smooth gravel road that is slightly downhill pedaling about 25 mph. Feeling great, glad that it is the best weather we have ever experienced in this race, and thinking I am really going to kick Joanne’s butt this year!

My front tire hits a soft spot in road, kicks right and WHAM - I fly-swat onto my left hip and back, slamming both elbows into the road and blowing a hole in my Camelbak.

I am laying there with the breath completely knocked out of me wondering: “Did I break anything? It is going to totally hurt trying to get my breath back. Is someone going to run over me?”

Then several racers came up and got me out of the road. The gal who helped me to my feet said “The leg is weight bearing – doesn’t look broken.” The guy who got my bike out of the road said “Good job – sacrifice the body to save the bike!” The second guy brushed dirt off me, saying “nice war wound.”

I told them to keep going with their race, and took several minutes to try to tell if something was broken and get my breath back. I could tell immediately that my collar bone was OK. But I was worried that I might have cracked ribs or a messed up vertebrae up high in my back on the left side (really painful under the left scapula).

Since it was downhill at that point, I got back on my bike and started easy pedaling to further check out the pain level. I was still pretty shook up when I hit the aid station at 18 miles, and I decided to keep going.

Big Mistake.

I just felt worse and worse from that point, but I then had to keep going to aid station #2 at 32 miles before I could quit. I was really having trouble breathing and steering was causing a lot of pain. I knew I was going to crash again if I kept going.

Just Plain Lucky

A volunteer at aid station #2 drove me back to the start/finish and on the drive back she said she was a massage therapist and needed to get back there to set up to start working at 1 pm. I quickly asked is she minded starting working earlier …. on me!

She said no problem, and worked 1 hour and 45 minutes on me - that really, really helped. I still felt like I might have some cracked ribs, but she was able to loosen up part of my back, my hip and shoulder.

I then took a nap, and got to cheer on my team mate Joanne as she came in 6 hours after I crashed. She looked fresh and ready for even more riding. She is clearly ready for Leadville!

I am Hoping . . .

Today (Sunday), thanks to the massage and a lot of icing I have a somef range of motion back, but it is limited and I still am in a lot of pain.

Rolling out of bed is almost impossible, but once I am standing I feel pretty good.

I can lift a bike up on the rack with some pain, however the pain makes me light-headed; trying to to bend over to pick anything off the ground takes my breath away it hurts so bad.

So, here's hoping 10 days is enough recovery time to tackle a 12-hour mountain bike race!

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