Franz finished hisy first Lotoja 204 mile race (Logan UT to Jackson WY) as a 2 man relay team with his brother. Franz was assigned the two back to back sections where there was all the climbing. This event is very different than the many double centuries Franz rode in California or the 500 mile relays he rode for Furnace Creek 508 or Hoodoo 500. Unlike all those, this had the feel of a real race and by far the most professionally put on event he have ever ridden in. You can ride it solo, which most do, or as a relay team. We entered in the USA Cycling sanctioned race category but they do have a citizen class category also. We saw neutral support vehicles often, following the fast packs and several officials on motorcycles monitoring you. They had well marked feed zones and relay transition zones. There were also neutral feed zones where you would take on a new water bottle or some gel on the fly from volunteers so need to stop. Also no need for any route sheet since every turn had volunteers flagging you where to go. The finish line was like being at a pro cycling event with barricades and a big screen leader-board. Riders names were called out as they came across the finish line. Overall it was quite an amazing experience. I understand now why this event is hard to go into. We were lucky to have Anne and Deanna crew for us and they did a great job.
How I Did
I think I did reasonable well, but was a bit disappointed that I was not able to do my two sections faster. It was quite different for me to be climbing a hill and being passed by so many. Nevertheless, I had a goal of finishing in 6 hours and I barely met that goal unless you count the time when I stopped at the transition to change water bottles and take on food. When I look at my performance after the fact, I was near the limit, with an average heart rate of 150. I was able to average 15.6 mph over the 93 miles, that included nearly 6,000 feet of climbing.
What hurt my time was that I had to ride most all of the miles solo. They started the race relay teams first, followed by the CAT 1 racers, then advanced to the slower riders in that order. So when I was riding I was either with Race Relay or Cat 1 or 2 riders. Most of the race relay riders were doing a 4 or 5 man relay so they could go all out on their own segment. The fast racers would come from behind me in a big back but their speed was way too fast for me to latch on, even for a short time. Although you are suppose to only draft behind the group you start with, many took advantage of anyone around, but in my case there was few around me to hang with. On the occasion when I was able to draft for awhile, it made a big difference, but I think I ended up riding 90% of the distance solo. Not having a big guy to follow down the hills really hurt my time since I don’t have enough weight and skill to descend fast by myself.
I was trying to make sure I ate sufficiently and was often drinking, but I forgot to put electrolytes in my water bottle and ended up cramping about 20 miles from the end, on the steepest climb where I should have done my best. I fought with the cramping issues until I finished since I didn’t have the luxury of just stopping for awhile to recover.
Although I did a lot of training for this, too much of the training was at a slower pace and there was not enough speed work, in my opinion. That speed base can take a few months to build up and I was trying to do it in a few weeks. Traveling to Italy for a bike tour was a contributor, although I did get a few days there where I was pushing the pace.
Next up is the Huntsmen World Senior Games. I hope to do a bit better there since two of the three events I entered don’t allow drafting (hill climb and time trial). I just wish I had a more optimistic view of how I was doing so I could do a better job of getting ready. I have limited time to train now so it is more an issue of not losing my fitness than improving it.