One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the biggest challenge in endurance racing is proper nutrition. In my younger, dumber days I once tried to ride 24 Hours in the Sage solo, subsisting on little more than Twizzlers and Coke (I ended up doubled over in the fetal position after about 12 hours). More often than not, it’s stomach issues that sideline endurance racers before their legs give up.
As Ian and my friends in Carbondale will tell you (because I’ve been complaining non-stop) I’ve been dealing with an ongoing intestinal issue for almost a month now. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say I haven’t been able to eat much and I’ve spent a lot of time in the bathroom. I went to a specialist last week for blood work and I have a colonoscopy scheduled this week—yippee!
So this is the perfect time for me to do a 12 hour mountain bike race, right?!
I’ve raced the 12 Hours of Snowmass twice before on a three-person team and this year I decided to try it solo—my stomach be damned. Just over a week before the race I went gluten-free, mostly as an experiment. Little by little I started to feel better all week. I spent Thursday prepping a bunch of gluten-free race food: Allen Lim’s rice cakes and Heather Irmiger’s scones. I hoped those, along with Honey Stinger chews and new Stinger organic gels would get me through the race (sadly I couldn’t eat the Stinger Waffles).
Fast forward to lap 10, hour 11 of the race on Saturday. After over 20,000 feet of climbing followed by a whole bunch of punishing (but really fun) descending, I still felt great. Ok, sure my legs were tired, my back hurt a bit, my arms were exhausted, etc., but my stomach felt just fine. Gluten-free? SOLD.
I finished the race with 10 laps, three laps ahead of the next woman and in fifth place overall. Most of all, I’m proud of the fact that my laps times were pretty consistent. The legendary Tinker Juarez won the men’s race with 11 laps. Full results here.’
Big thanks to Joel Mishke who hooked me up with a rental bike for the race, Scott Leonard for loaning me some wheels, Rob Russell for helping me with support and kid wrangling, and of course Nat Ross for organizing another awesome race in Snowmass. This post’s sponsor shout-out goes to Westone. I wore their UM1 earbuds for the entire 11+ hours I was racing and they never got uncomfortable and kept me rocking the whole time.