19 May 2012

Stottlemeyer 60 MTB Race

My season started today.

Everyone has their "A" races and for me in 2012 it's the NW Epic Series (put on by 4th Dimension Racing).

I used to mountain bike a lot. For some reason that tapered off dramatically some years ago. I guess road and track took center stage and you can only do so much on any given day that the weather is nice. But then two years ago I lost some of my enthusiasm for the track and then last year I entered these races on a whim. What a blast!

ASIDE - this series has a short course option and a long course option. Of course I opted for the long course. :)

The Stottlemeyer 60 was a bit of a rude introduction to mountain biking when I rode it last year for sure as it's quite technical (and I bit it twice!) but the rest of the series was tons of fun and today I had a MUCH better day than last year. Talk about night and day.


I almost screwed the pooch this morning. I had set my alarm for nice and early and it woke me up no problem. But then I closed my eyes… the next time I opened them up I had 40 minutes to meet Tony Bravetti. And we had to catch a ferry! Shit.

Thanks goodness I had done all the vital stuff (tune bike, pack clothes and gear) the night before so all I had to do was get dressed, grab some ride food, grab some breakfast for the drive and pile everything into the van. I made it to Tony's house in record time (thank you Highway Patrol for not being out in force today!) and we made the ferry. Whew. On the ferry I had my breakfast.

The weather was gorgeous. Even when we arrived you could tell it was warming up and in the sun I knew there was no need for any warmers or extra layers. Nice. This year the finish was right by the start (bonus!) so no more riding back to the parking lot after you collapse. An added benefit of bringing the finish down the hill was lengthening the course. I guess last year it was only about 55 miles so this year they claimed to have made it a true 60. There were all kinds of jokes in the pack about whether this was good or bad…


After signing in Tony and I got geared up.


The contrast between our bikes could not be more stark. Tony has a spanking new 2x10 drivetrain and his bike has front and rear suspension. My bike is a single speed and is fully rigid. To each his own.

At the start I saw Ben Spencer and Peter Stocker. These guys have been regulars at the BuDu Racing West Side MTB Series and they have been doing really well. I rode the first of these races and both of these guys freaking waxed me; and good. Today Peter was expressing some doubt about the distance, last year he did the 30 mile race here and he was understandably nervous. Ben never seems to show much emotion and is just wicked fast. We lined up and the let the Open Men (read: geared bikes) take off first and then we started with the Open Women.


The first two miles are dirt road. You actually start with a descent(!) and then it more or less climbs gently to where the singletrack starts. Right away some geared bikes blow by me and one single speed too.

ANOTHER ASIDE - this single speed bike was ridden by none other than Doug Graver who seems to slay all at any MTB event he enters. Sometimes I actually wonder how a single speed can go so damn fast?!

A couple of other single speeds passed me, one was same guy in an orange jersey and one was Peter so I dug deep (deeper than I wanted to at this point to be honest) to stay in contact. Usually I come good later on in these longer races but if you give the rabbits too much rope you can never pull them back so I committed to starting faster than I wanted and hoped that I would not blow up.

As soon as you hit the trail it gets technical. Everything slows right down but you are breathing so freaking hard from the road climb that it's a bit tough to clean everything. But I was doing okay! I was more or less keeping Peter in sight and feeling pretty proud of myself seeing as this was literally my second MTB ride of the year.

Mr. Orange Jersey was riding away from me but what can you do? Peter was going plenty fast for me so I just tried to keep pace with him. Right in the mix was (I think) Nicola Mann who ended up winning the Women 40+ category. We must have passed each other about 10 times today and if she had not thrown her chain off with about five miles to go she might have beaten me. As it was she only finished about 60 measly seconds behind me. Awesome!

Lap one went pretty well with me just trying not to lose the wheels in front of me. Some of the technical stuff was slowing me down more than I wanted but hey, skillz are not my strong suit and I was just happy to feel better than last year. I stopped at every aid station as I was not carrying much at all with me. Besides, it gave me a chance to rest just a bit. Unfortunately it also gave Gary Ballas the opportunity to pass me. Rats. This guy has finished just ahead of me in the last FOUR MTB races I have entered and is much better in the skills department than I am for sure. I never even saw him go by.

During lap two I suddenly saw much more of Orange Jersey and managed to edge ahead of Peter. Incredibly I also passed Ben! Turns out he had a flat and had tried to nurse it with his pump a couple of times but finally had to resign himself to replacing the tube. After the race we were talking and he estimated that he lost roughly five minutes from the nursing and the tube swap. Since I beat him by 10 minutes I felt pretty damn good. :) Of course if he had never flatted I bet I never would have seen him. That's racing.

Just as I started lap three Orange Jersey was right in front of me as we pulled out of the aid station at exactly the same time. Within about 100 feet I could tell he was hating life and asked to pass and that was the last I saw of him.

But not Nicola! Man (that's a joke, get it?), we were just going back and forth all damn day. She is an excellent bike handler so on the technical stuff we were pretty even but of course she would pass me on the dirt road sections and then I would pass her back any time there was an extended climb. It was pretty cool really to have this carrot out there the entire race.

On lap four I thought I had finally shed myself of Nicola but as I stopped at the last aid station she blew by and I had to scramble! I grabbed my bottle back from the guy who had kindly filled it for me and took off as fast as my tired legs could go in an attempt to reel her back in. This time I managed to pull her back in some technical trail and then she threw her chain just before we got to the last road section. Knowing she was faster than me on the road, especially on the downhill bits where I had to coast, I'm not afraid to admit I was riding just a little scared those last five miles. :)

From where the race finished last year we bombed down the same dirt road we had climbed up from the start. And then after a mile or so suddenly we took a right back into the woods.


My legs were shot. And this trail started to go up! A couple of times I imagined I heard someone behind me but it was probably just my imagination. I did have to hike one short bit as it was just too steep to ride in my depleted state. Nervous!

Seeing the finish was SO nice. Especially with no one right on my wheel. People were cheering and I was able to coast across the line. Yeah!

Not only are all of these races really well supported with phenomenal aid stations they have some really good food at the finish! What did Martin have as his recovery meal? That's right…


And I'm not ashamed to say that I went back for seconds.

What a great day! Here are some more highlights.

  • Logan Wetzel (of course) killed the Open Men category.
  • I experienced flow! There were times in every lap where I felt really dialed in and was able to rail some corners and was riding a bit above my normal ability most of the day. It felt pretty damn good.
  • I was able to ride every portion of the lap at least once (depending on how tired I was or how much traffic I was in) except for one darn corner. It was this downhill left-hander right at the end of a log bridge and it was pretty greasy. I felt bad fro dabbing there every lap until I told Gary and he said he dabbed there on purpose every time. Whew.
  • 1.5 laps in I had a wicked cramp in my right hamstring. I thought, "NOOOOOO…!" as I saw my chances of a good finish vanishing quickly. But I did my best to rub it out (while riding) and increased my drinking and incredibly it went away. Only to come back one lap later. Shit. From there to the end I was constantly battling this darn thing and kept eating and drinking and rubbing away but then it would come back. I got really lucky today for sure as it never stopped me from riding and I finished relatively strong. Thank you Nuun and Clif Shot Electrolyte!
  • Once again my Garmin measured the distance short, WAY short. I'm not so surprised as there were a TON of tight turns in the course. I do wish these things were a little more accurate in the dirt…
  • I felt like I was flying. Hell, I WAS flying. And I still averaged under 11 mph when you use the correct distance with my time. Sheesh. That's mountain biking for you.
  • I never fell down! I did shoulder block a tree which hurt and I got a small blister on my left hand from reefing on the bars all day. I got off my bike very little and that meant standing up quite a bit.
  • Just before the start I went to power up my Garmin and nothing happened! OH NO, NO DATA. After freaking out for some time Tony took a look and was able to start it right up. :|
  • About two laps in I went for the old farmer blow and got a gusher of a nose bleed. Damn. That's about four or five times this year I have had that happen. I tried as best as possible to keep it off of my clothes (I succeeded!) and not to ride into any trees (did that too!) and eventually it calmed down. I must have looked pretty gross there for a while.

Here are all the pictures.

Sleep 6
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Breakfast 6:30 AM - 2 bananas, pear, almonds, walnuts, tea
drive to race - large bottle w/3 scoops Perpetuem
Workout Food 15 min before race - gel
race - 2 bottles each w/1 tablet Nuun and 1 scoop HEED, about 10 gels, some orange slices, bites of banana, lots of Nuun and Clif Shot Electrolyte
Injuries My back flared up some after lap two but never too bad - I dodged another bullet there.
Time of Day 9:45 AM
Workout Type race
Weather mid 50s to mid 60s, dry, mostly sunny, calm
Course 15 mile loop with one aid station at the start and one half way in. Most of the singletrack is very technical but some in the second half is super fast and flowing. There were only two short climbs that I had to hike each lap.
Results 3rd - Open Single Speed
official results
Time 5:32:41 (that's about 45 minutes faster than last year and the course was almost five miles longer this year!)
Distance 60 miles
Pace 10.8 mph
Equipment Mountain Bike
Clothing bib shorts, sleeveless undershirt, short sleeve jersey, cap, full finger gloves


Logan Wetzel said...

Nice work Martin! Sounds like a good improvement over last year. Nicola is indeed a great bike handler!

Martin Criminale said...

@Logan - thanks! For sure it was an improvement. The stellar conditions sure didn't hurt either. :)