Post-ride report: 42 mile IMBA/OMBA “Epic” at Santos.
I had been looking forward to yesterday’s 42 mile IMBA/OMBA”Epic” ride at Santos all week long, and it did not disappoint!
I rode yesterday with Mike Simmons and Jim Beyer. As most of you know, Mike and I have been riding together at Mt. Dora a few times, and we have some friendly competition going on Strava. Mike’s a great guy, and I want to thank him for inviting me along yesterday.
I’d never ridden with Jim before, but I knew who he was from Strava (he also rides the Mt. Dora trails). Turns out Jim has made one heck of an impressive transformation of his own! In fact, Jim’s story is so inspiring I’m going to feature him in an upcoming Transformation Spotlight. Jim was obese with a resting heart rate of 110 BPM when he decided to take control of his health. He did much more than lose weight: he completed the Leadville 100 mountain bike race! If you’re not familiar with Leadville, it’s insane: a 50 mile there-and-back course (100 total miles) at more than 10,000 feet. There’s 14,000 feet of elevation gain, and the course must be completed in less than 12 hours. Completing the race would be a huge accomplishment for anyone (I believe Lance Armstrong said it was the most difficult race of his career), so considering where Jim started that makes his success story even more compelling.
So we rolled out of the trailhead about 7:15 AM. It was relatively cool (that didn’t last long), and we were all feeling really energized and good.
The way we rode the route–and this was Mike’s sage idea–was by starting in the middle of the “Epic” course at the Landbridge Trailhead. This allowed us to hit the most technical trails on semi-fresh legs and brought us back around to the trailhead at the 25 mile mark so we could take a break and grab additional supplies/water. From there we rode the second half of the course, which was another 17 miles.
Riding the Epic as Mike suggested was a great idea. The more technical sections of the course included two trails that were new to me: “Nayls” and “Ern N Burn”. Both of those trails are “Blue” (intermediate) rated, but definitely closer to “Red” (advanced) in many places. I’ve ridden all the Blues at Santos, and these two trails are, IMO, the most difficult Blues (and the most fun–right up there with “Twister” on the fun factor scale). Hitting those trails on tired legs after 30 miles of riding would have been much, much more difficult (and way less fun). Those two trails were an absolute blast, and I had a grin on my face almost the whole time…
… I may have stopped smiling when I wrecked. Three times. Yeah, I took a couple of spills, one of which sent me over the bars. A few bloody cuts, a few scrapes and some bruises resulted, but nothing serious. In my defense, there were a lot of new things I was adjusting to during those first 15 miles or so: I was riding on trails I’d never been on before, I was excited and a little nervous, my saddle height was considerably higher than normal (Mike made the suggestion that I raise the saddle earlier in the week, which definitely increased my power), I was on brand new tires and my sunglasses were almost completely fogged over (I eventually removed them).
Two of my wrecks could almost be forgiven, but one of them was comical. We were on on a section of trail that a blind person who’d never ridden a bike before could have easily traversed. I was cruising along admiring the scenery and not watching the trail. My handlebars clipped a tree or a vine and I went down. We were only about 15 miles in at that point and Jim joked, “Are you getting tired?” That was really embarrassing. Jim and Mike made cracks about that one for the rest of the ride. Thankfully that was my last wreck of the day.
So about 35 miles in Mike’s quad started to cramp up. We were well hydrated and had been consuming plenty of electrolytes, but this has been a chronic issue for Mike on very long rides. Jim made the suggestion that Mike consume a couple of mustard packets. Yes, MUSTARD. Mike took Jim’s advice and, lo and behold, the cramps went away! Have you guys ever heard of anything like that?!
I had been feeling some tightness in my right hamstring at about the 35 mile mark, but I declined the mustard. I wish I hadn’t: about 1 mile later my hamstring completely locked, and I literally just fell off my bike in agony. As I tried to straighten my leg my quad cramped! The cramps worked themselves out after about 30 seconds, but I was worried that they would return (and there were no more mustard packets). Mike had a chewable pill that contained stuff like magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium, and so I chewed that. I can’t recall the name of the pill, but it tasted like vomit mixed with chalk. It was horrible, but it worked. I made it the rest of the way with no more cramping issues.
We only experienced one minor mechanical issue between the three of us: Mike got a twig caught in his chain, but that was easily resolved.
By the way, I loved the new Wild Grip’r tires! They rolled fast and cornered incredibly well. They also did way better than I expected in the sugar sand, and were really good on rocks. They were not quite as good as the WTB ‘raptors on roots, but that’s a trade I’m willing to make. Excellent tires–very happy with them. Thanks for the solid suggestion, Craig!
Back in June of this year I got my first “Extreme” Suffer Score on Strava. I mentioned that I really wanted to get an “Epic” Suffer Score, and yesterday I did that with a Suffer Score of 342:
41.7 miles is also a new off-road distance personal record for me. I’m especially pleased with this because I only had less than a week to prepare for yesterday’s ride after almost two weeks with no exercise and a fairly poor diet.
Mike and Jim, great riding with you guys yesterday! It was definitely one of the most fun and challenging rides of my mountain biking career thus far. I’d love to do it again sometime. Or maybe just go back and ride Nayls and Ern N Burn over and over and over.