Last year, I wanted to ride in the Snake, but had surgery and was still in recovery mode. I had heard it was one of the toughest races around the area, and I like a challenge. For me, it wouldn’t be about winning but about FINISHING.
Fast forward to 2016, and it was more about placing in the top 5. I wanted to run a sub 4-hour 30-minute race. That was my ultimate goal, but I had my backup I will settle for a sub 5 hour because “I have no idea what I’m getting into” backup plan.
I hired a coach (Steve C. from Echelon – coaches many others and the Taco Mamacita Road Racing team in Chattanooga) in October, and I have been adjusting the past three months to a whole different mentality of riding. Used to, I would just go mountain bike as hard as I could if I could, most days. Now things were changing with prescribed workouts and analyzing data and figuring out what my body can handle and measuring results.
I got my 2014 Trek Superfly FS8 (it may not be carbon, but she handles well with over 3,500 miles) ready at Scott’s Bike Centre in Cleveland, TN. I feel it’s a huge blessing to be added to the Scott’s Bike Racing Team along with some other great riders. I really am not at their level, but working hard on it!
I spent every single day for a week leading up to the race checking the weather. 100%, 80%, 70% chance of rain. A friend of mine was bailing out. I was making my plan on attire and nutrition. And, I did not sleep very well the three nights leading up. I bet I was more nervous than when I took the boards for pharmacy!
The day called for 47 to 53-degree temps with rain likely. I settled for shorts with chamois, a base layer and pants over that. Mistake. My legs were hot. I had a cap on my head under the helmet. Mistake. At least, I didn’t finish out the multiple errors with the jacket I brought. I had on my new Scott’s Bikes jersey since I ride for them #trek!
I arrived around 7:15 am at Dry Creek and parked the van. I had only had a protein shake and a banana for breakfast because I didn’t get out of the house faster. I also had some Osmo Preload stuff too. It tastes terrible, by the way. I can’t get used to the flavor. It is the women’s specific formula. I had hydrated a little bit during the week but not as much as I should have. Everyone was lining up around 8 am, and I was off. Everyone goes one at a time a minute apart, and I settled into my prescribed wattage in power. My heart rate was nutty immediately, but I started settling down once the climb started. I had moments of deep breathing and a time while climbing where I channeled some Lamaze breathing techniques pretending like my legs were the only thing working and relax everything else I could. The mind does funny things while working hard physically. There are games I play mentally like:
- Breathe out more than breathing in – ridding myself of CO2.
- Inhale more air and sort of holding it allowing O2 to really get in the body. This is all in my head as far as what it actually does.
- Music. I have a particular playlist that is awesome. Sometimes the right song comes on and I forget the pain.
- Talk to myself out loud. “Come on Beth.” “Relax.” “Stop braking.”
- And the mental section by section and noticing the time.
The bridge was out over the big creek, and it was fun flying over it without sliding off.
Mistakes (and I learn as I go!):
- The temperature was 47-53 degrees. Basically, I wore too much. My head and legs were roasting. The torso was perfect. My gloves look good (ha!) but, they were purchased with liners in mind. Because the temps weren’t that cold, I ditched the liners, but they were bulky and waterproof. I love these gloves, but next time will keep that in mind.
- I carry way too much stuff. This has been a common theme with me because I do not want to stop, but I ended up wasting 9 minutes stopping anyway. I had an osprey with 2 L and one bottle. At Snake Creek Gap I swapped out bottles. Not worth it. This will take practice though.
- I took on way too many carbs on the ride. I calculated 80 carbs per hour!!! The recommended that I keep finding is about 30-60 grams of carbs per hour. I am not sure why I felt I needed so much gel. Perhaps I was just hungry? I’m thinking about ditching Infinit for awhile and ruling out the added protein causing GI issues. I took in 1,489 calories during the ride. I may try something totally different in the next 5 weeks to dial in some issues. The thing is I may be confusing what I am experiencing as fatigue more than cramps/needing carbohydrates. I should have ordered my Infinit without protein. May ask for that. May try another brand. I carried 2 L of Infinit on my back. I don’t mind the weight, but if I’m going to carry three hours worth, the bottle I had should have been enough to finish it without stopping.
- Need to hammer it more. Period. It looks like to me I didn’t give it my all in power though my heart rate says otherwise.
As far as the course goes, I love this terrain. It is HARD. Hardest stuff around. Lots of rocks and lots of climbing. Over 5,000 feet of climbing in 34 miles. The new 50 mile option added almost 2,000 feet of climbing to the course.
The Snake 34 elevation profile
I heard it was much better when they had shuttle involved. The finish line this year seemed a bit lonely since most people had to go retrieve their vehicles at Brush Creek and then return for their bikes.
|323||1||04:02:46||Nielson||Jen||30||34||Women 30 and Over -34 Mile||SouthPaw Cycles, Liv|
|327||1||04:20:50||Lofgren||Beth||43||34||Women 30 and Over -34 Mile||Scott’s Bikes/Trek Racing|
|306||1||04:53:43||Whitaker||Julie||49||34||Women 30 and Over -34 Mile|
|339||1||05:05:38||Richards||Lara||34||34||Women 30 and Over -34 Mile||Sorella Cycling p/b Hincapie Sportswear, Inc.|
|320||1||05:44:08||James||Deidra||46||34||Women 30 and Over -34 Mile|
|277||1||06:18:06||Hutchens||Tiffany||37||34||Women 30 and Over -34 Mile||Dans Comp|
|314||1||06:57:33||Witt||Erin Trin||46||34||Women 30 and Over -34 Mile||Traxxion Dynamics|
|200||1||07:17:35||Kocarek||Corianne||32||34||Women 30 and Over -34 Mile|
|204||1||07:17:42||Costello||Lisa||46||34||Women 30 and Over -34 Mile||FMBR|
The results after the first race. Second race in a few weeks.