Thursday, October 16, 2014

Leadman 125

Back in September T-Payne and I made our annual trek out to Bend, OR to visit our good friends Dave and Morgan. Now seems like the appropriate time to once again remind everyone that Dave had his ass kicked by a squirrel.

As expected, I left Bend totally wanting to move there. Since mechanical engineering jobs are tough to come by out there I even hatched a sure fire business plan which would no doubt result in endless cash flows with which to make it rain on Bend's many bike shops and microbreweries.

As the proud owner of a 49cc Yamaha Vino motorscooter, I know good scooting grounds when I see them.

Bend's compact layout and mild climate make for just about ideal scootering. The only problem is that there are no scooter dealerships in town. 

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I present you with Rainbow Road Scooters.  Rainbow road you say? What is this? Some sort of gay scooter dealership? No, we here at Rainbow Road welcome all sexual orientations, because Rainbow Road is a Mario Kart themed scooter dealership.

Since I know nothing about the sale or service of scooters, I would spend most of my time scooting around in a turtle suit throwing hammers at people.
Buy that extended warranty or I will hammer your face!
Surprisingly, despite having a bulletproof 100% sure fire business plan, I'm not being inundated with venture capital. Thanks Obama.

Oh yeah... I also closed out my 2014 multisport season by winning the Leadman 125 race while I was out there. This consists of a 2.5k swim, 106k bike and a 12k run. That may sound excessive, but it starts to sound a lot more reasonable when you consider that it is run concurrently with the Leadman 250, which is double all of that.

Last year I actually did the Leadman 250, which was okay, but racing that long really fucked up the vacation aspect of the trip, so this year I opted for the shorter distance. I have no idea what Dave was smoking at the time, but apparently seeing me hating life during the 250 last year somehow inspired him to want to do this year's race. Lucky for him the management decided to add a third option, dubbed the Leadman 85, which is a 1k swim, 75k bike and 12k run.

Since Dave and I were in entirely different races and he had not done a tri in several years, the equalizer time was established with some difficulty. I put on my engineering dork hat and produced a spreadsheet predicting a 4:11:11 finish for me in the 125 and a 4:00:52 for Dave in the 85. All parties agreed that the 10 minute 19 second equalizer time would be official, with the loser supplying post-race growlers filled with the beer of the winner's choosing.


Leadman is a Saturday race, which would usually mean either a late night Thursday or early morning Friday arrival to minimize lodging/rental car expenses and vacation time usage. But with Dave and Morgan offering us free transportation and lodging, I elected to arrive on Wednesday night so I'd have an extra day to bum around Bend before the race.

Thursday morning I woke up nice and early to build up my bike, then went out for what was supposed to be a short 20-30 minute run. I ended up on some awesome off-road trails along the Deschutes river which were way too cool to not explore a bit. Long story short I ended up running just shy of an hour at a pretty spirited pace. Oops. Not exactly an ideal activity 2 days before a race, but fuck it, I'm on vacation so whatever.

A similar thing happened later that same afternoon. I intended to go out for a short shakedown ride just to make sure my bike wouldn't disintegrate beneath me due to my amateur mechanic skills. Two hours later I rolled back into town having gone all the way up Mt. Bachelor and back down. Oops again. The riding in and around Bend is absolutely spectacular. Once I started up that road there was simply no way I was stopping before getting to the top, race that weekend be damned.

On Friday Dave and I went for a short ride around town where I did actually curb my enthusiasm somewhat, then we got our race packets and drove our bikes the 40-some odd miles out to the lake for the mandatory bike check-in.

Dave and Morgan's friends Rob and Whitney came down from Seattle that afternoon to hang out for the weekend, so that night all 6 of us headed off to a local pizza joint for my traditional pre-race pizza and beer feast.

Clockwise from left: Dave, Morgan, Whitney, Rob, Me, T-Payne
The Pre-Race Jams

Since there was no drive to the race site there really weren't any pre-race jams, but the super weak dad-rock playing over the PA at the finish line tells me that the triathlon community is in need of a serious musical intervention.

Have you ever asked yourself, "Just how heavy can music get before it devolves into unintelligible brown noise?" Well I have, and I'm sure The Acacia Strain has as well, because they just put out a new record and it sounds like this...

That breakdown at 2:25 will shake your bowels loose. Good stuff.

Race Morning

Race morning started with a power breakfast of donuts and Coke on the shuttle bus out to the swim start/T1. Once I got to the rack I was greeted with a flat rear tire.

Dave and I had consciously chosen to take one of the later buses out to the start, so I only had about 25 minutes prior to the gun at this point. I managed to get the tube replaced in time, but it was close. And I also used my only spare tube. And went from latex to butyl. I mean c'mon... racing on butyl?  What am I?  Poor?

Downgrayedd. Spelled thusly, with 2 D's, for a double dose of damn it.
With all the tire drama out of the way there was no time left for a warmup, so instead I jumped in and went straight to race pace for the ~200 yards out to the start buoy then stood there for a minute before the gun went off.

The swim was nice. The water was pleasantly cool and extremely clear. Such a treat compared to the green farm runoff/goose poop sludge I've grown accustomed to around here. One guy went solo off the front right away and I got in with the chase pack and stayed there right to the end. Between my swim split and my GPS data I'm pretty confident the swim was the advertised distance this year, unlike last year, which was significantly short.

Transition was one of those weird plastic bag/changing tent setups, which always feels slow and awkward, but apparently I did okay as I missed out on having the top T1 time by all of 0.2 seconds. That got me out on the road in front of the rest of the pack I swam with and the volunteer at the mount line said there was only one guy in front of me.

I almost torpedoed the entire effort right then and there. After a ridiculous blowup out on the bike course at Pigman due to utterly ignorant pacing I finally decided to take the plunge and buy a powermeter. In a fitting start to my first ever race with power I did my best to live up to the stereotype of triathetes being enormous nerds and piss poor bike handlers by veering off into some traffic cones while dicking around with my computer. Luckily I kept it upright and got on my way.

Once out on the road it was a little worrying that I couldn't even see the guy in front of me, but I was intent on not riding this one like a spaz and settled into a sustainable pace. The bike course is roughly 66 miles and can be broken down into 3 equal chunks: the first 22 miles is generally flat, the second 22 miles is a long gradual climb up Mt. Bachelor with a couple little 8%-ish sections, and the last 22 miles is a very fast non-technical descent down the other side of Bachelor into town. My plan was to ride the first section as steady as possible, then charge hard up the hill and recover a bit on the way down.

I finally caught sight of the guy out front somewhere about mile 15-ish and it looked like he was still about a minute up the road so I modified the race plan a bit and pushed a little harder to catch up. I made sure to keep an eye on my power display with the idea of not spending any significant time north of 300. It's amazing how quickly the power can spike up even on relatively gentle rolling hills if you're not paying attention.

After a good hard half hour of riding I finally caught up to the mystery rider only to find that he was part of a relay. On one hand, awesome, because that means I'm still way out front of the individual race, but on the other hand, damn, I just rode harder than was probably prudent this early in the race to close a gap that didn't need to be closed. Oh well, it's not like I've never done that before.

After catching the relay guy I dialed it back a bit to hopefully recover some before the road went significantly upward and we ended up passing/repassing each other several times over the next hour or so.

At about mile 35, right before the last serious climb, I ended up pulling over and stopping at an aid station to try to get a bottle. We had passed several aid stations by now, but not a single one of them was offering bottle handups. Early in the ride I was thinking, "Sweet, so far off the front that the aid stations aren't even ready!" But now the two bottles I started with were completely empty, it was starting to get hot out, and lack of fluids was becoming an actual problem. So I skidded to a stop, tossed one of my empties, asked for a water, and the guy manning the aid station looked at me like I just stepped off of a flying saucer and said to me, "Oh... we don't have any bottles."  And sure enough, there was a table there with little paper cups of water on it.

I don't even know what to say about that one. It's 80 degrees, there isn't a cloud in the sky, you've got people that are going to be riding around out there literally all day and you're not doing bottle handups?!?! In retrospect, the smart move for me at that point would have been to dump a couple of those cups into my remaining empty bottle, but instead I just did my version of the Jackie Chan face up above and rode off.

On the bright side, my chances of having to piss myself at any point during the remainder of the race just went way down.

I passed Dave not too long after the aid station and apparently scared the hell out of him by yelling "Allez allez allez" as loud as possible when I rode by. We had watched a Vuelta a Espana recap show a couple days earlier so I also gave him a Contador fingerbang for maximum trolling.

Before long we crested the hill, started our way down and were greeted with a pretty stout headwind. There was one steeper section near the top where on Thursday I spun out and coasted my way up to 53 MPH. On race day I only managed 41 on that same pitch, and that was when I was actually trying.

My relay buddy gapped me on the downhill and I didn't put up much of a fight. I was about 40 ounces behind where I was expecting to be on fluid intake, so my top priority at that point was to make it to the first run aid station without passing out.

Luckily even at minimum effort with a huge headwind that descent is still speedy, so T2 arrived mercifully quick. In keeping with the now 2-year old tradition, the Hirsch and Payne family Halloween costume bins were employed to liven up the T2/finish area. T-Payne was a shark, Morgan was a killer whale, Whitney was a pig and Rob was some sort of pimped out Big Bad Wolf. Although I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought his "BBW" necklace was referring to something else entirely.

These costumes are almost as ridiculous as the ones we race in.
I remember lamenting my ass awful 2+ minute T2 time during in last year's race report, along with the prediction that I could do 45 seconds or better with cooperative weather. BAM! 43 seconds, fastest T2 of the day.

Lucky for me the first aid station was only about 200m from the run exit, so I stopped and stood there and drank about a half dozen cups of whatever sports drink they were handing out. It was incredibly delicious, although I likely would have accepted a cup of warm piss at that moment.

The run course was really lonely. There were 2 guys out front of me (the relay runner and one guy from the 85k race), but they were both way out of sight. If I hadn't done the race last year I would have been worried about going off course.

The run course here is highly underrated. It winds through a very scenic golf course and some super nice residential areas. The are also a couple of really steep little climbs which were absolutely killer last year during the 250, but this year they were really fun. Agreeable weather and not having already been out there for 8+ hours really does help.

Soon enough the finish line arrived, and the SharkWhalePigWolf went wild. I managed to beat my spreadsheet prediction with a 4:07:57 time, which took a pretty good bite out of the 4:20-ish course record, so that's always fun.

Dave ended up cramping up in the early part of the run and doing a bit of walking, but rallied at the end and held onto 6th overall in his race. His finish time of 4:21:03 officially sealed the deal on our equalizer bet, but we both agreed in the post-race analysis that my spreadsheet ninja skills are on point and it would have been close had he not had the cramping issues.

Since we both picked races of sane duration we had the entire afternoon to kill before the awards ceremony, so we were able to stuff our faces with burritos, have a couple cold ones and get cleaned up before returning to the finish line to collect our belt buckles right as the first 250 finishers started arriving. Those poor dumb bastards. Were they not aware there were shorter distances available?

Dave with his buckle. They weren't giving away dogs, he brought that from home.
Race day ended in style as we spent a beautiful central Oregon evening on the back porch where the 5 of us who are not pregnant emptied the contents of my victory growlers (T-Payne had to be content with root beer) and toasted my win and Dave's survival.


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