Monday, March 09, 2009

2009 Counting Coup Race Report


Counting Coup


On Saturday I raced Counting Coup up in the Santa Ana Mountains. It was a good day for sure. Counting Coup is advertised as a 44 +/- mile, 8,000 +/- ft of elevation gain mountain bike race. This runs in conjunction with Vision Quest (56 miles and 11,000 ft of elevation gain) which I did last year.

Last year I approached Vision Quest as a long training day and just wanted to get through it feeling good... and I did. I used the race as a "carrot" to get me out the door and on the bike all winter for long base rides to make sure I was prepared, not only for VQ but for my Xterra/racing season. I didn't push the pace during the race over the 56 miles and just made sure I took in enough calories and water. It was fun but the last climb, including the 40 min hike-a-bike is something that I could have done without. So this year I signed up for Counting Coup with a plan of riding a little harder but still using it as my training "carrot."

I decided late last week (I think Thursday night) that I was just going to go for it and see what I could do. My only goal was to break 5 hours and I thought with the training I have done so far this year that I could definitely do it. My long rides leading up to the race had topped out at 4 hours this year, which was down from last year when I put in several 5-6 hour days on the roads and trails.

Pre-race:
Friday night I headed up to Ryan's crib to crash and hang out. After a good beer I got my gear ready to go and crashed for the early wake-up. We were up at 330am for the 530am start. After a couple of cups of coffee and a 30 min drive we were at the starting line... freezing.

We had to ride about a mile to the start line and got there 5 minutes before the start. Perfect, but we were definitely cold. My hands were already numb but figured they would warm-up once we started hammering up the first climb. I didn't get a good spot on the start line at all and that's my fault. I was being courteous of the other guys around me and didn't want to be "that guy" that shows up at the last minute and pushes his way all the way to the front.

The Race:

Due to my bad starting position I had to work my way through a bunch of riders in the first mile and then it kind of opened up a bit. I was feeling good, a bit cold, but I was riding a good pace and just kept passing people one by one. The goal was to go hard and really see how long I could keep it up. It took me 1:47 to cover the first climb of 15.5 miles. Last year it took my 2:17 to get there so I knew things were looking good. I descended Motorway with a couple of solid riders. I just sucked wheel and road a little above my comfort level on the sketchy descent but we were rolling!

I reached the aid station at the bottom of the descent and my hands and feet were frozen. I was little behind on my calories due to the cold and numb hands (hard to squeeze/hold bottles). The volunteers at the aid stations in this race are awesome! I handed one an empty bottle and they refilled it with water and then I saw my friend Kerrie. Stoked. My hands were so cold I could get into my jersey pocket for my gel flask. I called her over and she got it out for me. I also had another volunteer rip open a bar for me. So I had 3 people working for me... it was killer! I slugged some gel, threw half a bar in my mouth and rolled away.

Aid Station sequence:

roll in...


fumble around with numb hands...


see Kerri and call to her for help...


throw a bunch of food in my mouth and head out...


The second climb up to Santiago Peak starts on with quite a few miles on asphalt which seems to suck all the energy out of you. I felt flat during this stage of the race but just kept moving and was still making some passes. I started coming around once we hit the dirt again.. thank you caffeinated gels. I started this part of the climb with a couple of guys and had a few more in our sights. After a mile of riding together I realized that they were all doing Vision Quest and we were going the same pace. I should have been riding harder... so I did. I dropped a couple gears and just started hammering the climb and really didn't stop until the I reached Santiago Peak. I was able to ride away from everybody and didn't see anybody else on course for quite a while. It was nice and sunny but it was still cold. My hands and feet were still totally numb. I new descending was going to be a challenge.

Right before the peak I caught Marco Arocha who won my class (kicked myass!) last weekend at Bonelli... super fast and cool guy. I kind of road away from him on the climb but he quickly caught back up to me once we started the descent. On the descent we rode through several patches of snow/ice. I took a spill on the first section of snow. Nothing major. I just got caught up in a rut, went down, and slid 10 yards across the ice. A couple of scrapes later I was rolling and continued down Holy Jim. Once I was past the technical sections I started hammering and was riding well... and having a blast.

At the end of Holy Jim I hit the fireroad and threw it in the big ring and gave it everything. I knew I was going to break 4 hours. 5 miles later I crossed the line at 4:33 and ended up finishing 4th overall. Soooooo Stoked!


I hung out after the race for a bit and talked with the guys that finished just ahead of me. I was stoked to see Ryan finish in 5:55. A super solid race... and he's just getting started.


The race was hard and I was kind of shocked with my result. I thought sub 5 hours and a top 10 was attainable but really wasn't expecting to feel as good as I did. Maybe I'll go back next year and shoot for the win!

All my friends has great days too.... Check their race reports.
Ryan
Slater
Luke (and go Vote for him again!)

16 comments:

GZ said...

Coolio. I love the whiteboard shots. Nice job on breaking five. What kind of sand bagging was that? ;)

Luke said...

nice job bro...great RR! you see slater's monster ass tricep in the background of ryan's pic? that dude is nuts!

Ryan Denner said...

KILLER! it was cool hearing the verbal RR on saturday too!

Jaakko Hiekkaranta said...

dude! yer a rockstar!!!

killing it in every type of race possible!

awesome and congrats!

Pedal Circles said...

Awesome finish!!

You guys all owned it on Saturday!

Matt said...

I think you still have a decision to make. Mucho successo, dude. Or I guess you can just be this big gnarly trail mofo. Props on the badass result.

MJ said...

Nice race! ...and an entertaining race report too.

You're killing it every time out. Awesome.

I noticed Chandler took the win.... He must have dropped a few pounds since Friends cancelled.

Justin said...

good job!!! i have my work cut out for me hanging onto you all race season!!!! :)

Carolina John said...

Nice race bro. it's always fun to really push yourself like that.

Zippy said...

I knew you were primed for a great day, but whoa! You guys threw down and I'm stoked for all of you.

Slater Fletcher said...

I almost forgot how cold it was up there! I didnt start feeling my toes again until the hike-o-bike...

Great report and strong finish! Next year you gotta get front row at the gate!

Luke - you crack me up brotha! I was going into some cramps. . . Full body flex ;-)

Ryan Weeger said...

You totally dominated dude. Earned your beers and atleast a handle of jager with your finish time...haha. Sure you dont wanna sign up for the Traverse?

Donald said...

Great job Man! But whats with this whole thing about shifting into the big ring?! Why did you even down shift out of it in the first place?!!!LOL Again Great RR!

Donald said...

Great Job man! But why did you have to shift into your big ring? You should always be in the big ring!!!!LOL, Again great RR!

Zuke said...

Awesome result....it's always positive to see good results early on. Embrace and work it.

Webbies said...

Manny P. is a killer. Look out for that guy.