Last night after work was a planned endurance training dirt ride at Lake Ahquabi. A few of us hooked up at 5:15 pm to do multiple laps with a goal of 6 laps sort of being the dangling carrot. Once you hit the distance of 6 laps, you've reached the point in the Dakota Five-0 where you hit the final 9 to 10 mile downhill section.
Evie Johnson, Rick Blackford, Ron Cooney and myself headed out at about 5:30 in 90 degree temps. Ron's wife, and 3 or 4 others started after us and we ran into Nathan from Norwalk on one of the laps who joined up.
My goal was to dial in the nutrition/hydration. I had my gels (GU and Hammer) in my little stem/top tube mounted Speed Box along with Hammer Nutrition's Endurolyte capsules.
I had a 4 hour bottle of Hammer Nutrition's Perpetuem mixed and in the downtube bottle cage in the large size Camelbak water bottle, and I had my 50oz Camelbak pack on the back with pure, cold water. And I had a cooler in the back of the Element with water bottles, Sports Juice Pickle Drink, a Snicker's bar, and my post-ride goodies. My goal was to take in about 280-300 calories per hour, which meant I needed to drink 1/4 of the bottle per hour. I used an insulated Camelbak bottle which meant I could not see the level and is something I need to work out.
I was anxious to show everyone the alternate climb on the southwest side of the lake, so I took off in the lead and set a pace that was too fiery to endure for a 50 miler by me as it was more of an XC short 15 - 20 mile race pace, but we hit the alternate climb and it was fine on lap one. Crossing the campground road and up into the climbs, I backed off and dropped to 4th position to let Rick and Ron take off on his blistering tempo. Lap one was about a 34 minute pace for the 6.7 miles and Evie and I continued on for lap 2 slowing just a bit. At the bottom of the campground, we found Ron Cooney sitting in the grass next to his very nice and new top end Salsa Spearfish. We pulled up next to him and stopped to find out if he was okay. He said he had just been bitten by a snake. Of course, we ran through the details, asked how he felt and wondered what type of snake was out there. Poisonous variety, or other? It was a little swollen and we got him up and was walking around, so we suggested getting on his bike and coming with us. We'd take care of him if it suddenly got worse. We were all chatting and off we went to finish lap 2. We picked up Nathan out on the trail and all introduced ourselves. Even with the stop to check on Ron, lap two rolled in at 37 minutes.
Off we went for lap 3 and I was having problems getting water through the Camelbak hose. It required an immense amount of sucking to just get a small swig while on the bike - not so if I stopped, but that wasn't good and my hydration needs were not being met. Lap 3 was another blistering pace and Ron pulled ahead on the climb after the campground road crossing. Evie made a wrong turn coming out of the Mickey Mouse ears, and I slowed up after crossing the boat ramp to wait for her. No sign of Nathan, so he must of gotten dropped earlier due to our pace. Evie and I finished lap 3 around 35 minutes and stopped at our cars for some air in her front tire, and I hit the pickle juice and water bottle since my Camelbak was failing me. I also popped two Clif Shot Balls. Yuck! Not doing those again as my stomach reacted immediately. Rick came rolling in just finishing his 4th lap. Ron packed up his bike having done 3 blistering laps.
Rick, Evie and I headed out for our next lap, but Evie and decided to back off the pace a tad as we were flying too fast and had many miles to go. Rick took off and Evie and I sort of talked our way through lap 4 as a nice recovery lap. We rolled a pace that we could have done for the rest of the night, but stopped at the cars to put on the lights since it was 8:15 and the sun had set. Rick was having a beer and said he was done because he didn't feel like strapping on his lights. He had done his 5 laps at race pace for the 33.5 miles and knew he was good to go. Evie and I turned a faster lap on lap 5 than we had in lap 4, but the climbs were begging for granny ring at this point. The wildlife was starting to come out in force and the bugs near the lake were so thick, it was hard not to get a mouthful. By the time we rolled into the parking lot area (which was now empty except for our 2 cars), we had been on the bikes for 3:50 and had completed 33.5 miles. We hemmed and hawed about doing another lap, but I figured we would have ridden at about the same pace and not really gotten much benefit outside of saddle time as our pace was nearing "junk miles" pace. And my stinking Camelbak was not giving me water like I needed. So we called it a night.
We hit up La Casa for some grub and beverages before heading home. It was nice riding with Evie and visiting with her. I think she is going to do really well at the Five-0 as she is having a breakthrough XC racing season and is in really good riding shape. I was holding her back on the climbs in our final 2 laps for sure. Of course, the terrain is much different in the Black Hills and you can do really fast miles at Lake Ahquabi, so it is difficult to correlate our time and mileage with what it would be in the Black Hills under actual race conditions. All in all, a good training session for the endurance requirements. We averaged 46 minutes per lap thanks to the fast first 3 fast laps (which was faster than my 53 minutes per lap this time last year).
I'm looking at possible solutions since I only have one bottle cage that I can reach rather easily on my RIP 9 to replace the Camelbak. The 2nd cage would be underneath the downtube and my long arms can do it if I take care not to buzz my fingers or the bottle on the tire and peek out with my neck craned. Fine riding in the street, but on singletrack I would have to be careful to only take the bottle on buff sections. The 2nd cage itself would be down around the CVA pivot and on any technical section runs the risk of striking a rock/log as it would sit lower than the actual pivot. It's a cheap and easy solution which I will experiment with next week, but I don't know if it is the best solution. Certainly lighter. No worries of back/core overheating. And with the aid stations, I can easily fill both bottles quicker than taking off the hydration pack, opening up the bladder, filling it and getting all strapped in again. If I did go with that solution, I would put the 4 hour Perpetuem bottle down in the 2nd cage position, and have the water/HEED up top in the cage I can easily reach.
One is the Mountain Feedbag which I could use for my Perpetuem bottle, and then use my regular big Camelbak bottle in the cage with water...
I would only get one of those and it would be for the Perpetuem bottle. I'm worried how it would sandwich in my brake/shifting cables. It's a workable solution and looks pretty well constructed and minimal weight.
The other is a pretty nifty hydration system for full suspension bikes and bikes with only one or with no bottle cages...
I might tinker around with my Camelbak to see if the hose was pinched or if I can get the flow better. It felt like the hose was too short and when I pulled it over to my mouth to get a drink, something was crimping and not allowing the water to flow. But if I was stopped and used both hands to get the hose over and turned my head - I had good flow. And I fiddle with the 2 bottle cage solution to see if either is workable before shelling out for yet another solution.
In the meantime, off to work on my syllabus and then drive to Duluth tomorrow for camping and racing with Tara and Lisa...