Monday, April 19, 2010

Mount Laguna Classic Race Report

** It's hard to call this thing a race, but so it is... **

When AdventureCORPs first started advertising for the Mt Laguna Classic last fall, I was told that this had my name all over it.  103 miles, 10,000 ft of elevation, climbing Mt Laguna 3 times, etc – the normal epic weekend stuff (James, sorry if I steal your word too much - it’s just so damn fitting!).  At the time, I didn’t know if Chuckie would guiding me through my 2010 season yet, so I took the conservative approach when responding: “No way, too close to IMSG, I should be tapering by then”, but secretly, I wanted a piece.  Chuckie and I discussed it a few times, and his stance was simply “Do it”.  Taper what?!  Nonsense…

I finally got around to reading all the pre-race emails on Friday, and was shocked that they wanted all cyclists there at 5am for check in for a 6am start.  Mt Laguna is over an hour from where I live, so my first thought was simply “F that”.  After the initial shock, I realized that it was time to nut up!  330am it is for the alarm to go off!  It was a rude awakening for sure.

I started in the third wave at 6:20am, but before I started, I insisted on getting my picture taken with Bill Walton (yes, the famous basketball player)!!  At 6’11”, he undoubtedly towers over my 5’7” compact frame, and it was nothing but comedic standing next to him! 

Aside from being a famous hoops player, he has undoubtedly one of the coolest job titles with his position at AdventureCORPS: “Chairman of Good Times, Social Affairs, Customer Relations and All Things Fun”.  

I took off for this adventure, fully bundled up with it being 37 degrees out (!!!), but it wasn’t long before the layers started coming off.

A quick word about my favorite piece of training clothing: the Canari Element 1719. I love this thing!  I was at the Canari warehouse sale back in December, and saw this jacket as I was standing in line to check out.  It looked cool because it’s a jacket that had sleeves you could zip off.  I tried it on, and it fit perfectly. I love this thing for the functionality of 2 zips and it’s a vest or a jacket, but also because its windproof and highly water resistant (I have ridden in the wind and rain with it, and it really is exactly what it says).  Despite the 37 degree temps and wind from descending – my upper body was not cold at all.  If there is one piece of winter training gear that I couldn’t live without – it would be this - hands down.

Shortly after passing the first check point, I was down in the aero position, hammering along, and I look up and sure enough, Toby just happened to driving in the opposite direction, and in a split second, we recognized each other!  And this was at 6:45 in the morning out in east county!  He pulled a u-ey (sp?), and caught up to me, where we chatted a little bit.

Very cool to see him out there early in the morning!

At any rate, the gist of the course is that it takes you up Mt Laguna (peak elevation of 6000 ft) 3 different ways – Sunrise Highway, Kitchen Creek, and the little known Pine Creek (Noble Canyon to the Mountain Bikers out there).  Another cool part about this little jaunt is that there are ZERO stop lights, and 1 stop sign. 

Going up sunrise highway and kitchen creek were fun, but not terribly challenging.  Honestly, the first 75 miles aren’t much to write about: start, see toby, climb, eat, enjoy the views, descend, climb again, eat again, descend again.  This event is all about the third ascent up Mt Laguna – Pine (Pain) Creek.  Riders were forewarned of some 18%-24% grades, and that 20-40% of riders may have to walk.  You can bet that I had another “F that” response to that concept.

There was a 5 mile or so flat to rolling section, with some “warm up” 10% little “bumps”.  The 10% bumps eventually jumped to 10-15% bumps (dropping the little), and it wasn’t long before the 10-15% bumps became 16%-20+% little hills.  I ascended over a little bump, and was really charged up, because I know there was pain to be had.  I saw 2 cyclists stopped over the side of the road, and as I yelled something incoherent to the English language, I realized they were stopped because of a bad ass little bugger of a 20% grade hill that was greeting us.  I charged it, and saw my power numbers creep quickly into the 300, 350, 400, 450, and even 500W range!  I turned the corner, look up and saw this... (it doesn't do the justice... trust me)...

looked down at my HR, which was at 180 (VERY close to my max), and decided to just chill for a bit.  There was no way I was going to attack this quarter mile, 20+% hill going into it at Max HR, leading to a walk.  No way.  So, I stopped, gathered myself for a few, and charged it hard!  I got to the top of it, and was never so happy to see 14% on the next hill.  There were plenty more 20%ish, and even greater grades, to be had.  Basically, when you download the data – it looks like a bad ass 50 minute interval session:


Long before the race started, we were told that were some motivational quotes along the way up this hill, strategically placed when you would need them most.  My favorite sign, and just about my favorite part of the climb, was a quote by Emerson: “The world belongs to the energetic”.  I’ll let you philosophize if you wish – it certainly got my brain going (and ever since!) while pounding the pedals at 170 beats per minute.

I finally got to the main road, trudged up to the top of the mountain, grabbed some h20, and did my final descent back to Pine Valley park, where I had some killer post race grub – the best empanadas I’ve ever had!  I chatted it up with a few others, and headed back home where I took a diesel nap.  Total time was 6:26 (6:04 moving time)

This was definitely a great, challenging course that will be part of my future training rides, and the support was great too!  Chris Kostman (the owner of AdventureCORPS) is definitely a cool dude.  Maybe the best thing that I got out of doing this race was thinking about maybe doing the Furnace Creek 508 one day as a 2 person team.  Hhmm…

I knocked out a 2 hour run on Sunday with an easy spin to follow, and taper has officially started!  This week, I will be swimming my arms off...

Damn, is St George really only a few days away now… ?


Toby Guillette said...

Great to see you on Saturday! You'll have to check out my pics from the weekend of camping and MTB up in Cuyamaca. That photo of you with Walton is classic! Way to crush that ride. Glad you are feeling ready for IMSG!

goSonja said...

Several thoughts:

- Um you look like a jockey next to bill. Where is your horse?

- Those hills were awesome, and you ate them for breakfast, and lunch. Way to ride solid.

- Furnace creek as a 2-person. Unless your other person is C to the V...or me...I say F-that! Go for the whole enchilada!

angela said...

Hee Hee, you looks so small next to big tall Bill. I was behind him at an ATM in OB once.

P.S.any suggestions on where to buy arm warmers?

Ryan Denner said...


I have 2 sets of arm warmers - one from desoto, and another from squadra, who supplied our RAAM cycling kits from last year.

The desoto ones have held up nicely for 4 years. The squadra ones though, are nicer, softer, and slightly warmer.