Openers! Tomorrow is race day!!! Feel free to dot watch/stalk. I’m racing under the totem ‘Ditchnap Donkey’
Just saw that on Strava, clicked, and it’s T minus 17 hours! Go get ‘em!
Not really a workout, my usual Saturday Group ride, Out to Elton to meet my mates (I was well early as usual ) on a pretty chilly morning. A subsequent group ride, mainly on the front until my mate blew up after giving him a recovery break we headed to the cafe where it was now warm and sunny. After a long pause there we headed to the pub and had a couple of Morreti’s there. Me and another mate then headed back to town via another pub and had a pint and steak sandwich in the beer garden before heading home. Apologies if this is gobbly gook but I me being a 2 pint light weight, I’m still a bit p1ssed after 3
There are stories to be told, but not now, I’m pretty wrecked
Road ride on the coast of Maine. Harpswell, Brunswick, and Freeport. Then, proceeded to stuff myself on Lobster cooked on the deck for what will probably be the last time this year…
A pretty much staple gravel ride from our group today but after weeks of dry and not predicted it rained first thing this morning which made things sloppy. Which is rather annoying as my much used portable Kaercher power washer was refusing to take charge last night. I’m letting my lunch settle and I’ll probably confirm that and wipe down the bike The route to Fineshade (https://groundscafe.uk/fineshade/) varied slightly but nothing we haven’t done before. On the way back we were going to take another bridleway but when we lifted our bikes over the gate one of my mates noticed a loose spoke so we came back by road.
Amazing effort!!! Congrats!
I can’t remember what SS session was in my calendar but I swapped it with Alternates for something I could do on the commute.
Here is my race report for Silver State:
The Silver State 508 is a paved ultra distance bike race. It starts and ends in Reno, NV. The course is an out and back on mostly US 50, with the turn around in Eureka, NV. Covering 508 miles, 22k ft of elevation gain, most of which comes from 6 significant mountain climbs. If you’ve never been to northern Nevada, it is surprisingly beautiful!
The race has many categories, Solo(crew supported), Solo Rando(self supported), 2-person team, and 4-person team. I was racing it as a Solo. The supported rules require a team of 3 crew members to support the racer. I was able to secure a great team of Beth Rood, Jack Davidson, and Steve Carter.
One of the neat things about this race is everyone races under a totem, instead of a traditional race number. Once used by a finisher, that totem can never be used by another racer, The original racer ‘owns’ that totem for life. I chose to race under the totem ‘Ditchnap Donkey’. Totems should be animal based, but can use additional modifiers to make them unique. ‘Ditchnap’ comes from the nickname that was given to me after taking a 20(30) minute nap in a ditch at Tour of Central Iowa in August of 2022. ‘Donkey’ comes from the fact that I’m stubborn and will eat almost anything put in front of me.
I wanted to be competitive on this race. I made it my target event for the year, and put a ton of time and energy into the preparation. I went into it feeling 100% ready and on top form. I was ready to crush this thing!
The race is broken into 8 segments.
Reno to Silver Springs, 48.8 Miles, ~3k ft of elevation gain:
The race started at 5 a.m on Friday 9/22 for Solo and Solo Rando. 7 a.m. for the 2 and 4 person teams. Due to the start of the course going up Geiger Grade(7.5 miles with 2,200 ft of elevation gain) there is no support for the first 30 miles of the race. Every racer must be able to self support themselves the first 30 miles to avoid congestion on the climb. I had purposely arrived in Reno a week in advance to attempt to adjust to the increased elevation(Reno sits at 4,500 ft, where as most of Eastern Iowa is around 700-1000 ft) and to be able to pre ride some of the decisive parts of the course. One being the climb up Geiger and the ensuing descent down Six Mile Canyon. I didn’t want to be surprised by anything on race day.
We left the hotel on roughly a 10 mile loop around southern Reno, I would assume to give the crews time to get to Geiger Grade before the riders. Everyone stayed together for this section for the most part and just enjoyed the company, once we made the turn onto Geiger Grade Road, we would all be alone for the most part. Once we made that turn, it was obvious people started racing, the pack broke up and I settled into my predetermined pace. I watched a few lights ride off up the hill, hoping I would catch them later. Geiger is pretty consistent, averaging a bit over 5% for 7.5 miles, with one short downhill roughly 1.5 miles from the summit. It was a pretty chilly morning with temps at the start in the low 40’s and forecasted temps at the summit in the mid 30’s. I made the choice to go on the lighter side, knowing the climb would keep me warm. I did stuff my ShakeDry jacket in my jersey pocket for the descent.
The climb took about 50 minutes, and at the top I put a foot down to quickly throw my jacket on, then tore off on the descent. Luckily the sun was starting to come up and we were on the East side of the mountain. The descent would have been a lot less fun in the complete dark of night. The descent from the summit to Virginia City, about 4 miles, is pretty fast and straight forward, but once you turn on to Six Mile Canyon, it gets steep and technical. It was a ton of fun! I managed to dress correctly and didn’t freeze or overheat on the descent! Things seemed to be going right! I got to mile 30 in ~1:50, right on schedule with what I was expecting! A quick bike change here onto my TT bike for the next ~100 miles and I was back on the road! The rules require a support vehicle to direct follow riders between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. so the crew had to hustle back to the van and follow me out for the next 10 minutes. This is where we get on US 50 ‘The Loneliest Road in America’. The course for the next while is pretty flat so the TT bike, plus a predominant tailwind, meant I’d be moving at a solid pace. Before I knew it, I was at the first time station in Silver Springs. No need to stop for me, but the crew had to check in.
I’m right on target for my pace to this point and feeling really good!
Silver Springs to Fallon, 31.4 miles, 300 feet of elevation gain:
This section is FLAT and short. The roads are busy here, mostly 4 lane road with wide shoulders. Although the shoulders are full of debris, so kept my fingers crossed for no flats. This whole section used to be a lake at one point, completely under water, toady, the lake is still there, but a mere shadow of its previous size. After a quick 80 minutes, were through Fallon and the second time station. Again, no need to stop for me so I kept moving. Seriously, this is a flat, fast and boring part of the course, there isn’t much to say about it. Still right on target pace wise, still feeling great!
Fallon to Austin, 106.4 miles, 5k feet of elevation gain:
At this point you might be wondering why the wide differences in segment distances. Well, it’s because outside of the 4 towns on course, there is pretty much no sign of civilization out there. This segment is simply this long because there is absolutely nothing between these two towns! This segment starts with 20 more miles of pan flat riding, before a couple of small climbs, then a false flat that the TT bike is still faster on, I made the decision to postpone getting back on the road bike until roughly mile 125, after the two small climbs.
This is where my race got turned upside down. After the two small climbs, at roughly mile 120, we are in a basin that the Navy uses for fighter jet training. I could hear some jets pretty close. The road is straight so I decide to gawk around and see if I can spot the jets. Next thing I know, my front tire is on the gravel shoulder. It’s deep and pulls the bike further off the road. I do my best to stay upright, at about 21 mph, until I hit a steel road marker with my right thigh and hip. I go ass over tea kettle onto the gravel, scratching up my left knee and tearing a huge hole in the right leg of my kit.
I lay there for a second, assessing myself for any major injury(broken bones, massive bleeding, head trauma). I’m ok in that regard so I get myself untangled from my bike, and the post. I’ve got some cuts on my right leg that are bleeding slightly, but nothing major, I check my bike and the handle bars are tweaked off axis, but closes enough that I can ride ahead to my crew. I come flying in screaming that I need help. They were not expecting me to actually need anything from them at this point, I still had another 10 miles to go before we were gonna switch bikes and I had enough food and water to get me to that point. They scrambled and helped assess the situation.
At this point, I am 100% certain I have completely screwed my race. There is no way I am going to finish in the condition I am in. I already have a bruise forming on my right quad, about the size of a marker post and I can feel the pain through the adrenaline. But, I’m not going to quit yet. I know that if I stop for too long, things will get tight and that will spell disaster. My crew helps me with some wound care, gets the road bike ready to go and I change into a new kit. I get back on the bike, damn near in tears over how bad I have screwed up. 385 miles left I have gone from feeling on top of the world, to wanting to crawl into the ditch and cry. Ultra racing is as much about problem solving as it is about fitness, well, I certainly have a problem to solve now.
Back on the road bike and onto the second big climb of the race. Carroll Summit, 8 miles and 2k feet of elevation gain. By the time I had gotten to the legit part of the climb, the adrenaline had worn off and I was in that low that comes after. My leg hurt and I couldn’t manage the best power on the bike. I managed to crest it at a decent enough pace and then made the descent on less than good pavement. At the bottom of the descent starts a 30 miles flat section that I had planned to swap to the TT bike on. We made that change really quick and I took off.
The TT bike did not feel good at all for this section. Power was absolutely terrible, I wasn’t even close to my pacing. Speed was still ok due to a good tailwind. Major doubts started to creep in here. If my leg is going to be this bad here, I don’t know how I’m going to go another 300 miles. Somewhere along this section I was passed by the first 4-person team, who went on to set a new record with a time faster than 22 hours! The pavement on this part was also terrible, large expansion cracks that would jar your entire body every 2 seconds.
Somewhere along this section, there was a mountain range off to my left that had a significant amount of snow on its peaks. I found this neat and demanded that the crew take some pictures of it. Apparently they found it amusing that in my pain, I wanted them to take pictures of snow on mountains……
We swapped bikes right outside of Austin at the start of the third major climb of the race, back onto the road bike. Austin Summit is 5.3 miles with 1500 feet of elevation gain. The town of Austin is in the middle of the climb, Still daylight out so I didn’t need to stop at the time station but my crew did. After eating some solid food at the bike swap, I felt surprisingly good on this climb, beating my pacing strategy for it. Hope started to break through the doubt. I wasn’t expecting this good feeling(things still hurt quite a bit) to last but I was going to capitalize on it and push on. Surely with all the damage I had done to my leg, it was bound to continue to get worse.
Austin to Eureka, 70.1 miles, 2800 feet of elevation gain:
A quick descent from the Austin summit and there was another 2 mile climb before a big descent leading to the start of ~40 miles of pan flat desert to Eureka. After the descent we swapped back over to the TT bike. This felt just as bad as the last time I had gotten on it. Low power, but a decent enough tailwind made for a pretty decent speed. Somewhere in this section we clicked past 6pm, which meant for the next 13 hours, my crew would be directly behind me. The ability to have constant conversations was surely going to help keep spirits up.
Right at the 14 hour mark, I had made it to Eureka. The sun had set and it was starting to get cold again. A visit to the bathroom at the gas station in Eureka and some layers were in order. If I hadn’t hit a post and this pitstop took this long, I would have been furious, but at this point, I couldn’t manage to squat down to get my tights pulled up or to reach my feet to put heavier socks on. Somehow at this point I was in 3rd place overall for the solo racers and second had just left as I was coming in. I still hadn’t gotten to the point that I wanted to quit, but I still didn’t believe I would make it to the finish line.
Eureka to Austin, 70.1 miles, 2700 feet of elevation gain:
This section is kind of a blur, I honestly don’t remember much about it. I know we threw the JBL speaker on the front of the van for the ascent up the back side of Austin summit, which is the fourth major climb of the race. I recall power on the TT bike still being garbage, and my right leg had really started to just become dead weight. I could not stand and pedal as the muscles would not function to stabilize myself.
We swapped back to the road bike before starting the climb up the back side of Austin Summit. Power on the road bike had started to take a nose dive with the reduction in output of my right leg, it was really starting to become dead weight. That hope from earlier was gone. Doubt was getting louder, but at least I was still moving in the right direction and beyond half way! A quick stop at the summit to put on my puffy jacket and I took off on the descent. At least these were still fun and not terribly painful. This time, since my crew was required to check in at the time station, I had to stop also since I couldn’t advance on the course without them.
Pacing plan? Goals? What’s that? All that stuff had gone out the window and I was just trying to not DNF.
Austin to Fallon, 112.5 miles, 2700 feet of elevation gain:
Outside of Austin and back onto those 30 miles of terrible pavement. Shortly outside of Austin I managed to pass second place(seriously, how the hell did I run into a post and manage to find myself in second place?!?) This for sure helped with the motivation. It dulled the pain and I managed to eke out a little extra power. Hope started to break through again. It was COLD in this part of the course, my Garmin registering it’s lowest temp of the race at 23*F. I wished I could put out some extra power just to stay warmer, but that wasn’t going to happen.
Shortly before the climb up the backside of Carroll Summit I was passed and fell back to third place. My stomach started to get iffy, both legs had gone completely weak, and my head felt fuzzy. I couldn’t keep myself on the bike at this point up the climb, I would walk for a bit, then ride for a bit, then walk again. Finally I decided I needed to stop for a second to assess the situation. I sat down in the van while my crew and myself tried to work through my problems. We decided I needed to use the bathroom and then get redressed in warm clothing. While this stop took entirely too long due to my injuries, it seemed to resolve my acute problems. I finished riding to the summit, and then descended, headed back to Fallon. Power had come up from nothing to its previous amount of almost nothing. Stomach went back to normal and the fuzziness went away.
Finally I made it to the bottom of Carroll and we swapped back to the TT bike. This didn’t last long at all. I couldn’t tolerate the pain the position made for my leg. I made the decision to finish the race on the road bike. The sun was starting to come out and the temps were finally rising. Soon we would be playing the game of how many layers to take off. That tailwind I had yesterday on this section? Now it’s a head wind. Not unexpected, but still pretty demoralizing. 7 a.m. came and direct follow ended. Doubts still flying high. 100 miles left, on my best day would be 5-6 hours, I’ve gotta be looking at 8+ left at this point, if I can even get there.
I had made it known that if we got to Fallon on the return outside of direct follow that I wanted a sausage/egg/cheese McGriddles for breakfast. I also made it clear that unless things went completely pear shaped, this wouldn’t happen…… At least I got a McGriddles……
The flats on the return here were a death march. Between the headwinds, low power output, and the pain I was in, I was moving so slow. Add to that, a million stops to take the next layer off and I was hemorrhaging time, but I finally made it to the time station in Fallon. Less than 50 miles to go. Never in my life have 50 miles felt so daunting. I had made a comment when I finished Iowa Wind and Rock in 2021 how I wasn’t sure I would finish with 40 miles left of that race, thinking about that now makes me laugh, because I wasn’t even in the same ballpark as I was with 50 miles left to go of this one. Yet, I still wasn’t ready to quit, but I still wasn’t sure I was gonna make it back to the finish.
Fallon to Silver Springs, 25.5 miles, 500 feet of elevation gain:
The death march continues. Back on the busy 4 lane roads, riding in the debris covered shoulders. Just keep moving. At this point, the doubt was still there about finishing, but this close to the finish would need to get pretty severe for my desire to quit to outweigh my stubbornness to finish. I will say, this section sure felt like more than 500 feet of elevation gain…… Finally, the last time station!
Silver Springs to Reno, 46.8 miles, 3800 feet of elevation gain:
The head wind continues. The ‘flat’ section leading to the start of the Six Mile Canyon climb, sure doesn’t feel flat. We had made the decision that I would ride my gravel bike up Six Mile Canyon. Six Mile Canyon is probably the hardest climb of them all, and it’s the last one. The last mile into Virginia City averages over 10%. The lower gearing of the gravel bike will be a welcome choice I think.
As I’m getting on the bike at the base of the climb, I tell my crew to inform me if anything can be done on the climb to change the outcome of the race(either catch second place, or lose third). Hoping for some form of motivation for this last climb. Shortly after starting I’m told that second place’s tracker has been in Virginia City and isn’t moving. Time to go, Hopefully I can catch him. I was able to muster a decent amount of power, I still wasn’t able to stand so when the pitches got really steep, I was sure to get off and start walking right away, which by the way, walking was just as painful as riding.
It was starting to get quite warm, I’m pounding water like nobody’s business. Moving up the climb at a decent pace. I get to Virginia City to find an obscene amount of motor cycles all over the place. Apparently there is a massive(50k+ riders) motorcycle rally in Reno the last full weekend of September. Second place has moved on, and I am roughly 2 miles behind. At this point there is about 4 miles of climb left to go. I manage to get through the crowd of motorcycles and continue climbing to the summit. This part of the road was INSANELY busy with motorcycles. Many of which would pass intentionally close just because they’re ass holes. Not exactly where I want to be right now, but as far as I’m concerned, as soon and I crest the summit, I’m done, then it’s just an easy descent into Reno and 5 miles of flat bike path back to the hotel. It’s looking like I might actually be able to manage finishing this thing!
Boy was I wrong about that descent being ‘easy’. My crew was terrified they would never see me again with all the traffic on the mountain. I’m told there were tears as they waited, and waited, and waited for me to appear at the bottom.
The traffic ended up being the least of my concern. My right leg was in so much pain at this point, I couldn’t put weight on it to make left corners on the descent and any pedaling felt like my leg was being ripped to shreds. I can not remember ever experiencing something so painful. My hands were cramping from the excess braking I had to do to make up for the poor descending technique I was forced to do. I couldn’t see straight from the pain and the tears, I’m still amazed I made it to the bottom in one piece.
I had instructed my crew to wait for me at the first turn after the descent so I wouldn’t miss it. I come in crying and almost fall over from the pain. They initially thought it was from the stress of the traffic, I can hardly get the words out through the pain. This is as close as I got to a DNF on this race, and it was 5 miles from the finish. This was a solid 10 on the pain scale. I was afraid I needed to go to the hospital.
I can’t place an ounce of weight on my right leg, my crew manages to somehow get me off the bike and sits me down for a bit. Gives me some water. We wait for the shaking to stop. I can’t quit 5 miles from the finish. The race might not have gone remotely close to how I wanted it to, but I can’t quit 5 miles from the finish. I can’t put weight on my leg but it can move, so I can ride flat terrain enough to go 5 miles. It’s gonna be slow and painful, but I can do it.
Thankfully there was no loop around town on the return, it was straight back to the finish line. Slowly but surely I watched every mile tick down. Finally, the last turn to the finish line. I had made it. Third place over all, Second Male.
This race hurt, in a lot of ways. Ultra racing never goes to plan, and you can always learn things from your race. I for sure learned a few things from this one. I don’t think I needed to actually experience some of them to learn them(hitting a post seems like a bad idea, even before doing it). But the perseverance I was able to demonstrate? Never in a million years would I have guessed I’d finish a race after having the crash I had.
I’ve struggled the last few days with this one, never did I think I’d be beating myself up over getting 3rd at a race, especially one as big as the Silver State 508. I’m doing my best to focus on the fact that I didn’t let this stop me. I took the adversity and found a way to work through it and get to the finish.
The brightest spot in this race? Hands down, my crew! 100% could not have done it without them. They were absolutely fantastic and vital in making sure I got to the finish line. Words cannot even come close to express my gratitude. They uprooted themselves and travelled across the country to help this bearded fool ride his bike a stupid long distance. Thanks a thousand times to them!
@Cory.Rood Holy smokes!!! @WindWarrior posted your stats a few times, so we were following and thinking of you. Third overall and second male finisher is a massively impressive finish, even more so given the crash and injuries.
I hope you’re taking a well-deserved break and time to fully recover!
Incredible! Thanks for sharing. Amazing achievement. I know you’ve kicked yourself over it, but I wouldn’t feel too guilty for zoning out a bit on that terrain where everything looks the same for miles and miles. I mentioned before that I’ve done that route into Virginia City in a car and found it super steep. I really can’t imagine how hard it was on a bike with a bum leg!! For those who have never seen it, there is only one road in Virginia City, it’s two lanes, it’s lined with cars, and it’s nothing but tourist shops. It’s crazy busy even when there isn’t a motorcycle rally happening! Huge kudos to you Cory. Best wishes during your recovery.
I live in Okinawa Japan and own a 1995 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. It’s been in the shop so today and tomorrow I have to get to work on the bike which is about 20 miles each way.
It’s that time of year again in the Colorado mountains. The best time of year to ride the trails. Friday after work ride.