Saturday, August 29, 2015

Heck Epic 2015

Heck Epic.
Northern Minnesota 2 day stage race.
Day 1. 100 miles through the woods from Two Harbors, MN to Ely, MN.
Had to carry own camping gear.
Day 2. 106 miles through the woods on a much tougher route from Ely back to Two Harbors.

20th place Day 1
10th place Day 2
13th Overall Combined Men, no age groups

Day 1 nice sunshine, Day 2 rain most of the day. Slimy trail at times, trees down, huge mud puddles.
Enough pavement/nice dirt to give the cross bikes a good time, likewise enough rough stuff to give the mtn. bikes a good time.
Jeremy Kershaw put together a great race. Logistics were excellent, the route was fantastic, the cue cards were right on, camping area was superb with plenty of room, a lake to wash/swim in. Town was only a 1/2 a mile away to go get a snack or a brew and dinner at Stony Ridge was literally yards away. With 50, yes 50, different hamburger combinations it was a dining experience.
Nice touches were the $15 dinner voucher for dinner and the catered breakfast that were "free" as part of the entry fee.

There was even a shelter (see pic below at breakfast) to dive into during the night when the massive thunderstorm/lightning hit and scared many in-doors or they "cheated" on the camping equipment and couldn't handle the downpour and needed to run for dry cover.

In any case, if you're looking for a weekend of riding fun in northern MN I'd highly suggested looking into this event. Great ride/race and social event to get to know your fellow racers. Met some new friends and got to know some folks better.

Breakfast, Day 2. Me in the yellow.

All pics credited to Jeremy Kershaw.

My sandal setup. Finish line Day 2.

Women's winner, Beth Wagner. Beth and I know each other from a few WI races. We teamed up at mile 50 on the 2nd day and by and large pulled a small group of riders through a headwind and set the pace. At the 90 mile mark it was just us 2 and we crossed together. We had a great time riding together, pushing each other.

Camping area.

Some tried a fire but the rains made short work of it.

My spot. Green bivy tent.

Got my tight shoulders taken care of.

Finish Day2. Top 15 for the combined race

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Maah Daay Hey 2015

Went out to North Dakota and lined up for the Maah Daay Hey 100. It was a lot more than I bargained for. Over 10,000' of climbing, some steep, some long, some hike a bike. The downhills didn't allow a lot of recovery due to the rough trail and needing to pay attention as the tread was a bit deep/rutty and the sides could easily catch a pedal or a front tire and down ya go. I crashed/slid out once late in the race when looking forward to a turn I allowed my front tire to catch the side of the rut I was riding in and I lost my balance.
The mileage was actually 106 and some change. I don't remember any more than 4-5 miles of road.
Great views, when you could sneak them. Some parts of the trail were really out in space. A wrong move and it was straight down for a long drop.

Oh, and it was hot.....very hot. Some guys with GPS's were getting temps of 104, 107, 108 coming up out of the dead air, sun soaked ravines. Brutal. Lots of carnage, lots of cramping, lots of DNF's.
129 started, 57 finished.
They have me down for 60 years old, but that won't actually happen until December. Guess I better get used to it. Kinda wonder when I'll grow up!!

Was the most physical and exhausting bike race I've ever done. Only thing that has come close for me was xc-sking the Arrowhead 135 and Tuscobia 150. Started cramping at around mile 45 or so and they never really left. Towards the end I had to pedal hard with my feet angled back to keep my calves stretched out so they wouldn't lock up....which put a lot of pressure on big toes...see below on that.

Evening before the Start.
The "raddest race in the baddest place".
Rather appropriate for the mountain bike community to be in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Teddy was the most conservationist of all of our Presidents. Look it up.

Unless specified, photo credits to my pit Angel on the Trail, Lynn Scotch.
She was at every aid station and check point helping with food, water and moral support. Looked forward to seeing her as I pulled in.

The Start.
Blue Moon still out. 7 AM.
After a local lady sung the Star Spangled Banner, the race director quoted Teddy:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Again, very appropriate.

The day before the race while driving over we stopped at a hospital in St. Cloud, MN as my right big toe was killing me. The day before, Thursday, it started acting up. x-rays revealed a possible hairline break at the tip of it. Don't know how I did that, but was crawling around on my hands and knees (and tips of my toes) earlier in the week at my hunting shack getting it jacked up to move it so maybe I did something doing that.

Dr. gave me some prednisone and with icing it all day Friday as we drove to Watford City, ND and more prednisone and a few Tylenols during the race I was able to make it. The last couple hours were very painful and along with the cramps made things interesting.

Road to one of the Aid Stations.

Trail marking post.

The Crew vehicles had to cross the Little did the bike riders. Depth was between the thigh and the knee where we crossed. Up to the floor boards/bottom of the doors I guess where they crossed.

Those climbs out of the creek/river valleys were tough.

Me coming in to an Aid Station.

Little hike a bike action.Switchback City.

Photo credit, Riley Schotz.
Although I had to chase a cow off the trail once, luckily none of these guys were seen.

Photo Credit, Riley Schotz.
Friend Chris Schotz, Gleason, WI
7th place finisher.

Photo credit Mountain Bike Radio.
Friend Brian Hegge from Rhinelander, WI

Photo Credit, Chad Ziemendorf....Maah Daay Hey 2014 trail shot of Race Director, Nick Ybarra.

Yours Truly. The finish. Time: 14 hrs. 38 minutes.