"High Gear/Low Gear"
"Burning Quads or Burning Brakes"
"1.7 million bumps"
I was coming up with a lot of names for this ride while I was on it. But the real name was "Metallak: A North Country Endurance Adventure". This blog is a little wordy but 6 hours in the woods mostly along is a long time to think of stories.
The biggest challenge for me in this race was picking the right bike. And not because I have 11 bikes and just couldn't choose. I just didn't have the right bike for this race. In fact, there is no right bike for this race. Which although frustrating also makes it unique. I had already come to terms with the fact that there are 5 miles of running and 3.5 miles of hiking in this race and even though I'm not a runner I could get through it.
First I ran some tests with the cross bike:
Then and then with the mountain bike:
And I determined that the mountain bike was faster...So I took the cross bike. Hey, I had reasons. The cross bike was 18lbs vs 32lbs and there was a lot of climbing/hike-a-bike and the cross bike would be faster on the gravel and tar. I was thinking it was mostly gravel with a few miles of trails. In actuality it was about 50% gravel "Roads" 40% jeep trails and 10% trail. Rough Rough. I had my tires at about 80PSI because I am excellent at pinch flatting and I felt every one of the 1.7M bumps on the trail. I realized on the first downhill that a good part of my energy going uphill was being used to heat up my brake rotors. The extra energy used to pedal a heavy bike uphill gets stored as kinetic energy but riding the brakes down a bumpy trail doesn't win races. I've already started shopping for the non-existent right bike for this race. That's all I'm going to say about bike choice because I know most of you are bored and have skipped ahead to the very limited number of pictures.
OK, Pre-race. We planned on camping and making a long weekend of it which was nice. The race venue was Mohawk Falls which was a great space for the race festivities. The owner was busying around greeting people. The race organizers were no different, welcoming everybody and thanking them for coming.
|Home Sweet Home Away from Home|
|The Namesake of Mohawk Falls|
After some position jockeying I got to the first transition in 2nd place. About 1/2 way into the first run I got passed LIKE I WAS STANDING STILL. That's what 32 miles total of run training for the entire year will get you and I totally expected it. The gap between me and 2nd widened even further in the kayak and I knew I was racing for 3rd. I never came close to 2nd place again.
The next section was one of the few times I was enjoying my light bike, when I was carrying it on my back. After that was a downhill on an ATV trail that was sketchy as hell. I fully believe I could have gone twice as fast on a mountain bike. This is when I was so intent on not cracking my skull that I missed the well marked right turn. No big deal, the course was marked well enough that I realized that the markers has stopped. I only lost 3 minutes. The run around mud pond was uneventful. I alternated trotting and walking. I used walking as an excuse to get in as much nutrition and water as possible while my hands were free.
After an easy ride downhill I got to the second paddle. The "Boats" were inflatable whitewater kayaks and handled like a queen sized air mattress. That was fine because "Everybody was in the same boat" so to speak. At this point the "4 hour" racers had done about 20 miles of biking and the "8 hour" racers had done 32 miles of biking, 5.5 miles of running and 3 miles of paddling. The next step it to climb up here:
|It's steeper than it looks.|
|The view from the top taken the next day - Yes, we really hiked it again. This is one of the lakes we paddled.|
The 4 hour race had started 4 hours later than the 8 hour course except I finished the 8 in 6 so I had quite a bit of time to wait for my wife to finish. Oh, did I forget to mention she was racing too? My blog, my story, sorry honey. I'm getting to your AWESOME finish. I didn't' have to wait too long because she was the 3rd 4-hour racer over the line and the first woman! Woot! She was riding the polar opposite of my bike, a fatbike.
|Team Edwards Takes a Podium Sweep|
Overall the race was very well organized all thanks to a very hard working race director (and she baked us cookies). And for some strange reason I plan to do it again. I'm fully expecting my legs to be almost back to normal by then. I'm no spring chicken after all. It will also give me a year to cultivate the perfect bike which will be both light and stable. All of my mountain bike options are full squish and don't fall into the light category.
I obsessed over this race a lot. What bike to use, was I going to stay on course, what would my time be. I made a spreadsheet with all the legs and transitions and estimated my speed/time/pace for each. I broke it down by on-road, off-road, climbing, running, hiking off-road, kayaking and transitions.
My estimated time was: 6:04:15.6.
My actual time was: 6:04:19
That is either some top notch estimating or some dumb luck. Probably more of the latter.
No adventure race ride blog would be complete without the relive flyover
We hiked back up the next day to actually enjoy the views we had earned.
|That is as close to the edge as she would get.|
|Prelude to Angles Landing Trail Next Month|
|Life Is Good (Camera Zoom, she was 1/4 mile away from the edge at this point)|