Race report by Amy Rambacher, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team. Photo: Called To Creation
Wow! This past weekend was pretty eventful! First race of the 2016 season for me was the Ironbutt Challenge, which consisted of riding the 6 Hours of Temecula solo on Saturday followed by the SoCal Enduro on Sunday. I chose to do both races instead of just the enduro for training purposes. I'm doing a lot of multi day enduros this year so this was a good tool to be able to simulate racing multiple days in a row and to gauge my progress in my training with the Trans NZ right around the corner.
The 6 Hours of Temecula was the first endurance race of this sort that I have ever attempted. After getting some good tips from many people who have done this race and races like it before, I formulated a plan to ride 2 laps straight, eating every hour/lap, then come to our campsite (yup, we camped Friday and Saturday nights, something I never do before a race but we will be doing for the BC Bike Race in July), swap out my water bladder, eat some more food and head out for 2 more laps and see how things went after that.
First two laps went by fairly quickly. I rolled into our campsite to swap out my bladder and realized that I had only drank a liter of water during the first two laps when I should have drank close to two. I thought to myself, well, just drink more water during these next two laps, and got back out on course. During the first short hill climb of lap three, I began to feel the beginnings of cramps in my calves. I dialed it back and rode super conservatively for the rest of the lap, being careful not to strain my legs too hard and rolled back into camp at the end of lap three without having any cramps. I slammed a can of coconut water, ate about 4 pickles, swapped out my bladder again (I had drank about a liter during the third lap so that was better) and headed back out for my fourth lap. My legs were starting to feel a little tired on the uphills but I was still able to pedal hard on the flat sections and rail the downhills. I finished lap four with an hour and 20 minutes to spare before the 6 hours was up. I was averaging about an hour and a few minutes per lap so I knew I could definitely get a fifth lap in if I wanted to. However, with 40 miles and 4500 ft of climbing done, I decided to call it a day, as I wanted to make sure I was somewhat functional for the enduro the next day.
Sunday morning arrived and it brought the rain that had been forecast for the weekend. It wasn't raining that badly as the racers began to arrive at the venue and the SoCal Endurance crew decided that the show would go on! So up to stage one we pedaled. I could definitely feel that Saturday's effort had taken a toll on my legs while climbing up to the top of the hill but I felt about 80-90% on when it came to the downhills. I dropped into stage 1 and felt that I did pretty well on it. I pedaled back to camp to refuel and wait a bit before heading back out to pedal up to stage 2.
While I was at the campsite, the light rain became heavy rain several times and the winds began to kick up pretty good. I did a complete wardrobe change into dry clothing and put on all the rain gear that I brought in an effort to try and stay dry for the next stage and took off up the hill. The rain was making the fireroad climb up super muddy and hard to climb and I started wondering to myself how in the world we were all going to make it up for a third stage. About 2 thirds of the way up the climb, I was met by one of the race staff on an ATV who informed me and the people riding up that the remainder of the race might be called off due to the crazy winds. We continued to climb until we saw Jason coming down in his Jeep. He confirmed that, yes, the rest of the race was being cancelled due to the winds. The gusts at the top of the hill had reached 50 mph, which made racing conditions unsafe and had also blown away the EZ Up that was covering all the timing equipment. The race would be decided by the times from the first run. I had a quick chat with the people I had been climbing with and we all decided that, since we were all near the top of the hill and we didn't want to ride the fireroad back down, we would drop stage 2! So we made our way to the top of the hill and dropped into stage two, which contained one of my favorite trails at Vail Lake, the gnarly 4114. I started down the trail which, once you dropped off the top of the hill, ended up being pretty wind protected. I relished the lovely brown pow and the burly rock gardens! Right before the crux of the trail I noticed a guy standing on the side of the trail with what looked like a wheel without a tire in his hand. I thought that someone had a flat tire and began to slow down to prepare for possible traffic on the trail. Then I saw that this was actually a brave group of spectators, some of my racing friends that had opted to sit this race out and cheer all of us insane people on instead! Adam, Cristen and crew, that was seriously the highlight of my day! Once I finished the downhill part of the trail and dropped into the pedaling section, the wind returned and nearly stopped me dead in my tracks several times.
Back at base camp, we anxiously awaited results. When they were finally posted I discovered that my racing buddy, Johny Ringo, had come in several seconds ahead of me and I had placed 2nd for the day. Congrats, girl! Always a pleasure racing with you! And I got my first Ironbutt patch! Can't wait to do this again in June!
I really enjoyed being able to hang with Nick, Lauren, Zack, Lou and Danny this weekend at camp and hanging with Bobby, Lloyd and Holly after the race. I was so excited to see many of my other racing friends out at the races, too! I love the people that we have met through racing!
Then, on the way home, I decided to check my email, as reception at the campsite had been spotty all weekend, and discovered that I had been selected in the EWS lottery and I will be racing at the Aspen/Snowmass stop this year! Super excited about that, as 1) it's an EWS race and 2) I needed to get into this race to get my 4th race in for the BME series so I can get in my best 4 of 6 races for the series. Super stoked!
A huge thank you to all those who made my racing weekend possible:
- My husband, Thomas, my biggest supporter and sponsor
- Jason, Heather and crew with SoCal Endurance, for putting on awesome races
- Fly Racing, for always keeping me looking sharp and protected
- Ryders Eyewear, for making glasses that didn't fog up at all in all the crazy weather I raced in
- Intense Cycles, for making the awesome Tracer
- Industry Nine, for making the best wheels out there with all the engagement (120 points!) and all the style (anodized purple all day!)
- Elete Electrolytes, for keeping me properly hydrated (when I remember to drink!)
- Petal Power, for keeping me comfy on the bike
- Jeana Miller of Carmichael Training Systems, for being an awesome coach and helping me take my racing to the next level
- The Path Bike Shop, for keeping my ride running smoothly
- Kahler Cycling Academy, for providing the torture workouts that are helping me get better
- Jesus, for giving me the ability to be able to do this
Super stoked about the start of this racing season and excited to see how this race season plays out!