Check out how SOURCE Ambassador Gili in the US puts his SOURCE equipment to good use. He reports for us about his experience at the «Wildcat» Ultra Endurance 100 KM mountain bike race. Thanks for sharing!
«The calendar of an avid athlete starts months before the actual event. Typically around winter of the previous year you sit down and plan for 2-3 major events. Setting goals is imperative for a couple of reasons. The most important one: to design your training schedule according to your goals.
For me, last year the ‘big one’ was the «New Hampshire 100k». This year, i aimed for the «Wildcat 100k». Both races are part of the NUE race series: a series of ultra endurance off-road bike races across the US, where elite mountain bikers compete for prizes and glory.
I chose the «Wildcat» this year mainly because of its proximity to my home-base NYC. It was the first race ever of the NUE series in the NY area.
Training and build-up to the race
Preparing for the race, I went for long rides, both road and mountain. Just as important, I did mental preparation to endure the pain that was expecting me. A week before the race, I had specific training rides completed of high intensity efforts and ‘hillstervals’ (intervals done on a steep hill). The experience of last year’s 8+hours on the bike never left me for a second. Do I really need this? Is it worth it? Why?
The night before, I left for a hotel nearby. Before going to bed, I did the last inventory check: SOURCE Whistler Hydration Pack with 3L bladder. First aid kit. Two spare tubes. Arms and leg warmer. Rain jacket. Mini pump. SOURCE Dry Bag to carry spare socks and personal items (the forecast predicted rain at the day of the event). Knife (just in case). Gels and more.
The «Wildcat» – rainy race-day
The morning of the race I filled up my SOURCE bladder with 2L of water, my bottle i filled with sport drink. I calculated that the water would last me to the third aid-station (aid-stations offer drink, food with welcoming volunteers). Calculating hydration and food is obviously crucial for an intense workout, it is like gas for a car. You cannot run just on hope …
A long enduring race requires you to pace yourself. Meaning, to preserve energy for the late hours, to not burn out in the first 2-3 hours. At the start of the race, you fight the natural excitement of the race and the other riders. You feel good, fresh legs, no back pain, you feel you can conquer the world.
That day, the trails turned into a soft deep slippery mud, that required extra effort to pedal. My mentor Eric Model, a gifted ultra endurance mountain biker, taught me: you don’t get points on style, so don’t be a hero – and walk the bike. It’s not worth to be a hero and hurt yourself or the bike.
The ascent …
After the first section of singletrack, where it was stop and go due to slippery trail and other riders, the course continued on an open road before the real climb started. At the third aid-station I refilled the bladder, ate high calories food and did several leg stretches.
The next section was the most difficult part: a steep climb on a rocky road into the fog, to the highest point of the course. The good thing about rain is that once you are wet, it does not matter much anymore. I knew my personal belongings were safe and dry in the SOURCE personal dry bag. Also, the hydration bladder provides some sort of protection.
The descent, downhilling
The descent down to the valley was fast and furious (I had to stop for few minutes to clean my eyes of mud and dirt). The rest of the race comprised some rail trail (relative flat gravel trail) and a last section of 4 miles back on the trail where we started the race. The conditions this second time through were much worse after a full day of rain, so I had to hike the bike a lot. When I crossed the finish line after 7h plus, 100km and climbing 6600 feet (2100 meters), I couldn’t be happier.
My SOURCE Hydration pack again proved its excellency in weight-distribution, storage space, comfort and more. I didn’t feel any pain in my shoulders or any other parts of my upper body.
For me, racing in these ultra endurance events is to enjoy the outdoors. And it provides a good perspective on endurance and difficulties in life. People often asked me why do you do this to yourself? Isn’t it too hard? My answer is (similar to the American climber Ed Viesturs) you will know the answer after you will do one.
Till next time!»