Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016 Ozark Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race

2016 Ozark Trail MTB 100
50 Mile Option
Justin Stewart 
4th Overall 

For starters, I went into this race blind as a bat but full of motivation. I'm currently in the middle of my XC season so all Ive been doing is running miles all summer and practically no time on the bike. About the only time I got on a bike was when I was riding with my wife after work and occasionally getting in a secondary workout on the fixed gear bike in the afternoon, but nothing further than 20 miles or every other week.

After it was all said and done I underestimated the course. The course was absolutely brutal. Rocks, loose footing, tough, tough climbs with switch backs that brought you to a halt, river crossings, and sketchy downhills into sharp corners that almost sent you over the edge. None the less with all that said I still had a smile on my face...that was until the last couple miles when I started getting tunnel vision. My body was completely down with just 2 miles to go.

In just my first MTB race on a bike Ive only had for 2 weeks, I'd say I can come away with a lot to be happy and grateful for. I had the chance to meet new people and put myself in an unknown position to challenge myself physically and mentally.

The Race

The 50 mile race started at the mid point of the 100 mile race.  The start was a little questionable for the fact it was a mass start just a mere 50 ft. from the trailhead. I knew I had to get decent positioning so I wasn't too far back. Got out clean and on the trail in roughly 5th place. Stayed there for a while until the lead group of 5 or 6 was led into a wrong turn and a dead end. It didn't take up too much time but enough to really take out that initial high and really put a blow on the situation. From then on it was hard to tell who was where in what place. At the first aid station, which was confusing as hell, I asked what what place I was in and was told about 5th. From there to Berryman I was alone for the most part. Between miles 20-30 or so I was really questioning if I could complete this. My body was slightly tired but after the Berryman aid station at mile 31 I found that I was in 4th. After finding that out it lifted my spirits and I was also able to eat some food and get more water. From there I was riding pretty hard knowing Ive only got 20 miles left. I passed the lead single speed guy around 35 miles. Then came up on the 2nd place guy around 40. I passed him but we stayed together for quite some time. I made a bad turn on a corner and he went by me and I never saw him again. With about 7 miles to go I stuttered hurting a bit. My food and water intake was good still but the hours in the saddle on rough terrain was wearing on me and I was ready to be done. 2 miles to go I was in a world of pain. Walking my bike up a steep section with 2 miles to go is not where you want to be. The march felt painful and never ending. With just a quarter mile to go I came to a fence post at the corner of a cow pasture. I could see the finish across the pasture but there was a path leading right (which had an OT sign on it) and a path leading left. I literally stood there for what felt like an eternity, bent over my bike completely exhausted. I didn't want to go right because it was another incline. Still standing there, I decided, you gotta get moving. I went right, walking my bike up the incline. We'll come to find out I was supposed to go left which would have led me back to finish line. Also I came to find out that while I was taking the wrong way to finish the lead single speed guy went the correct way and finished ahead of me, bumping me to 4th. Frustrating, not the slightest. I was just happy to be done. I crossed the line and collapsed in the pavilion. I was in a world of pain. I literally push my body to the breaking point. Being in the saddle on that course for nearly 6 hours was rough.

Once I came to, I was able to put down 2 Coca Colas, 1 Sprite, 1 Dr. Pepper, 2 bags of chips, 2 electrolyte tablets, a bottle of water, a bag of cherries, a 16" pizza, 1 can of BL, and a sweet tea. FYI I never drink soda and I just had 4 in a matter of an hour.

This chart shows the elevation change for the 100 mile course. The 50 started mid way. Im no rocket scientist but I can read graphs and thats a lot of ups and down. Which in my book equates to a lot of pain. 

Lastly, theres a lot I can take away from this race. I think it's really important that when you reach a certain point in your athletic career that you challenge yourself in areas that are unfamiliar. I think you grow as human being when you put yourself in situations like that. I was close to biting off more than I can chew but none the less I completed the task with a good result. I needed a change of pace from my regular running schedule and this race did just that. Will I back, yes, next year ? TBD. Some day I want to do the 100 MTB in Sept. and then do the 100 running event on the same course in Nov. in the same year. We'll see about that. Till then. Happy riding and running. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Change of Pace - Ozark Trail 100 MTB

Change of Pace

So the plan for the fall of 2016 was and still is for the most part to put together a solid XC season to set me up nicely for a final attempt at some fast times on the track come indoor/outdoor season. Well after a couple stagnant 8k XC races I am in much need for a change of pace.

I can't remember how or where or when I heard about the Ozark Trail 100 but once I did it gave me a bit of mtb fever. Plus ever since I got rid of my TT bike Ive wanted a mountain bike. Last week I was able to pick up a 2017 Trek Stache 5 to fuel this flame and once I went on that first ride I signed up for the 50 mile option. What am I doing? I haven't been on a bike all summer. Doesn't matter. Part of me wanted to sign up for the 100 which I know I could do as well but I figured I should play it somewhat smart so Im not sore afterwards. That way I can continue to train for XC 8ks through the end of October. Plus signing up for the 50 I am able to scout out the course for next years attempt on the 100 mile course.  Im excited to mix in this race. It will keep things interesting for me and present a new challenge for me. Ive never done an endurance mtb race before but my endurance work I think will be enough to get me through with good results.

My weapon of choice, after much research, is the 2017 Trek Stache 5 29+ 18.5" Hardtail. This thing is like a supercharged monster truck. Super quick for bike that has 3" wide tires. It is also a lot of fun to ride and it brought a smile to my face the entire first ride. We'll see how she handles come this Saturday.