Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cascade Creampuff 2009

Another fun weekend at the Creampuff.... A few months ago, my friend Sten called and asked if I thought he should enter the Creampuff 100, and if I thought he would be able to finish. He said he has put on a a bit of weight the last year (ok, a lot of weight), drank a lot of beer, not exercised much since his son Quentin was born, and definitely not ridden his mountain bike. For any other person in this condition, I would definitely advice against trying to ride the 100 miles with 16,500 feet of vertical climbing. "YES, YOU DEFINITIVELY NEED TO SIGN UP, STEN, NOOOO PROBLEM, IT WILL BE FUN!!!"

Awesome single-track in Westfir

So, Sten took my advice and sent his entry to Scott, the CCP 100 organizer, and then the training began. Sten would frequently call and ask about nutrition, hydration, condition of the course, difficulty of the climbing and single track. One day I got the funniest voice mail from him, left while driving from Westfir (where the race takes place) to Bend where he lives. He had decided to go and check out the course and getting a practice ride in. He was asking if they issue parachutes at the starting line for when you fly off the 6" single track trail and take a 2000 foot fall off a cliff. He also threatened to carry a gun with one bullet so he could put himself out of the misery during the race, and also claimed he was going to be totally fresh after the race, since he was planning to drop out after a couple of hours. He said he would have never signed up had he known how technical the course was. I was REALLY looking forward to seeing him and Lisa, and meeting Quentin for the first time.

Eric and I left for Westfir, Oregon around noon on Friday. We stopped at Shasta and went for a short spin, had a picnic in a park and found a campground a couple of hours from Westfir. During the spin I found out I had a broken spoke. It's always fun to have to deal with these issues right before a race. After a great night's sleep we drove to Westfir and the first stop was at the local bike shop. We ended up buying a spoke and Eric put it on for me because speed of service doesn't seem to be a priority in small town Oregon. Enough said!!

Sten, Lisa, and Q showed up at the bike shop. I hadn't seen Sten for a couple of years, but he looked exactly the same. He appeared a little nervous, but I couldn't see any hives... (inside joke) After getting the bikes ready, Sten, Eric, and I went for a little spin, and then we did the usual race prep before the race meeting, and dinner at the Trailhead restaurant/cafe. Went to bed early, since we had to wake up at 4 the next morning.

Sten looking focused

After waking up to the obnoxious sound of Scott's blow-horn at 3:50 in the morning, forcing down a little breakfast and coffee, we all lined up for the start at 5:12 am. It was still pretty dark, but it was a neutral start and we had 4 miles on pavement before we started the first 8 mile climb on a fire road. When we started climbing, I noticed my legs were feeling really tight and stiff, but I figured they would loosen up after a bit. It didn't happen on the first climb, my legs felt heavy and I had no power to stand up and climb. At the first checkpoint (CP 2) we got onto a single track which was a bit slick, since it was really misty/lightly raining. I felt really uncoordinated, but sometimes it takes me a while to "get in the grove" so I wasn't too worried about it. After about 15 minutes of descending and being passed left and right, a woman came flying past me. She was whipping around the tight corners superfast!! I heard several guys remark on how fast she was. When we reached CP3 she was just leaving, and it didn't take too long to catch her on the next climb. I was feeling slightly better after backing off the pace, but had a really hard time hanging with the group, including Eric, I was riding with.

The course is in the shape of a figure eight, and we were doing the top-loop 2 times. Each loop took about 3.5 hrs. I had a hard time keeping my blood-sugar level and I kept making stupid mistakes, using my brakes too much, and at one point I went over my handle bars and rolled down a hill. The guy behind me pulled me up and said "Getting tired, huh". I wasn't really tired, just not quite right. After eating a handful of smashed cookies and chugging a little sustained energy I felt better and finally made it all the way down to CP 1.

Feeling a little dizzy...

CP 1 is at the bottom of the figure eight, and is also the finish line. From there, you take a single track along a river, ride up the first climb again, and descend the last 45 minutes on fun single track. As I grabbed a couple of gels, Karen deWolf (the speedy woman who had passed me on the single track earlier in the day) showed up. WHAT!?!? I hadn't really counted on that...

I left the checkpoint seconds before Karen, but as I couldn't make it over a steep rocky section, she climbed like a mountain goat and left me in the dust (or mud rather). I tried keeping a descent pace, hoping I would catch her on the next climb, and be able to hold her off on the single track, but it seemed a little ambitious. She looked so fast on the technical sections.

It took me a while to catch her on the climb, I was eating Gu like they were going out of style; I was so afraid of bonking. I just hoped the climb would keep going so I could make some time up on Karen. I didn't really feel great, but I think the adrenalin kept me going. My last downhill was definitely my best of the day. I finally felt smooth and I think the fear of getting caught after 11 hrs of racing made me more coordinated and flowy around the turns. I finished in 11 hrs 13 minutes, 2 minutes ahead of Karen.

Finally feeling good

Eric finished a couple of minutes ahead of me, he was 3rd in the Veteran category, not feeling his very best either. We were rooting for Sten, but unfortunately he got to CP 1 after the cut-off and wasn't allowed to continue on. He was still happy with how he did, 87 miles on a technical course is not bad, especially when you go from being an out of shape, beer drinking runner to an endurance mountain bike race in 3 months .... There is always 2010!!

The famous CCP clock...


Mormor said...

CONGRATS Lollo!! Or ... in Italian Congratulazioni!!
To be continued in a couple of weeks.

sswanston said...

I thank Lou for the invite to the Creampuff!! I warn all those out there to recognize that Lou is not human. To all competitors I warn you she may have a zipper down her back where you will find an alien machine (please see Terminator if confused). The creampuff course was awesome and the only thing holding me back was my crappy technical skills and Scott not allowing lights (I would have cut me off the course also :). But I can't wait to see Uncle Lou Lou up here next year!- All should fear the cold, hard, blank drive of THE SWEDE!