I’m alive… I survived the Cream Puff.
I woke up feeling ok, I got a good night’s sleep, glad we slept here at home rather than camping or getting a room in Oakridge (Thanks Alan Bennet for that bit of wisdom).
The first lap went really well, my goal was to average better than 5 miles an hour and though I haven’t uploaded the stats yet, my first climb was much better than I’d hoped. My entire first lap was fast and I had a ton of fun. On the climb I wound up watching a lot of people roll away from me, but by the time we got onto Tire Mountain I started catching people who weren’t as strong as I am on single track. The first lap time was just about 6 hours and felt way shorter than it should have.
The second lap on the other hand was not fast. After a quick cool off at the Aid station and a rather pleasant roll along North Fork trail, we hit the road 1910 and the climb from hell. My legs were toast and I was crawling up the climb at about 2-3 miles an hour. By the time I started the climb it was just afternoon and the temperature had crept up over 90 degrees… I was slowly baking alive and ran out of water way before the water station halfway up the climb.
The Puff organizers have a couple of angels patrolling the road in a pick-up with a water sprayer dousing anyone who wants it. They met me about 3 miles in and I took a long, cool shower in the middle of the road… It was amazing and kept me cool until well after the water stop. The rest of the climb was less suffering from heat and more about just pushing my burnt out legs up and down until Aid 2 where Mic Coleman and some other awesome people gave me electrolytes, chocolate milk, and I refilled my bottle with Perpetuem. Then I made the final push up to Aid 3, where Olivia was waiting and teased me with the idea of giving up.
I didn’t stop at Aid 3 long and pushed on, then about 5 minutes up the trail on a hike-a-bike section I stopped and sat down and contemplated turning back for a long time. Three people rolled past me and finally I decided I would just take the rest of the race 1 Aid station at a time. If I could just make it back to Aid 3, then I’d take inventory and see if I could make it to the next Aid station, etc.
And so it went, I had a good time descending Chrome Toilet and since my legs were rested the climb back out was tolerable. The climb and descent on Sourgrass Meadow and Jedi were even better. By the time I was at Aid 2 again, there was no question I could press on and I had plenty of time even if I walked most of the climbs.
But I didn’t. I spun up most of the climb after Windy Pass, I slowly ground my way up Cloverpatch (and even passed someone!) and the descents down Tire Mountain and Cloverpatch were amazing. Road 130 was miserable as expected, but I pedaled the whole thing in spite of twinges from potential cramping. Then, near the top of the switchbacks above Road 130, the guy I passed on Cloverpatch nearly caught me which lit a competitive fire in me and it was full game-on.
When I hit the road that feeds back to Buckhead shelter I stood up and sprinted up that stupid little climb. But I was fighting cramps back and got some full on cramps and had to walk them off… but then after cramping I changed strategies. Knowing how close I was to the finish I just doubled down my efforts. I stood up on nearly every climb in the last 6 miles (Thank god I trained so much on the SS)… and I tore up the downhills. It was awesome. The final 6 miles were glorious and amazing with some epic views, blazing fast descents, and 100% pure fun. It was a fantastic way to end the day.
Getting that hat was onerous, having a huge smile on my face when I got it was epic.
- I podiumed! 3rd place Men’s 45+!
- A big part of the suffering up the climb on lap 2 was because I decided to do 1 water bottle… a strategy that worked very well for most of the day but really hurt for the 45 minutes or so after I ran out on the second climb. Next year I’ll bring a second bottle or pack just for that climb.
- Thanks to all the awesome people who encouraged me and helped me out during the race. Mic was awesome at Aid 2, Chris B., Paul Timm, Olivia, Misha, Ellene, and many others. Also, my buddy Jason who is responsible for me doing this race and gave me encouragement when I was at my very worst.
- Double thanks to those who helped me train, because it’s hard to get out and do 45 mile days solo. Especially: Jamie, Bridget, Greg, and the Wednesday Whypass regulars.
- Huge thanks to Collin, Olivia, and Eugene from Paul’s on Alder and the Mechantile in Oakridge for helping me out with mechanical issues in the weeks leading up to the race.
Finally… thanks to my awesome wife who tolerates my adventures and is the best pit crew ever.