Sunday, June 12, 2011

5000 ft of climbing takes its toll - Tour of Mt. Nebo Report

Not really but it sure felt like it!
I had heard about the Tour of Mt. Nebo road race and how great the course was but hadn't checked on the date details until I stumbled upon it while in PA for a buddy's wedding. I was planning to leave on Saturday from the wedding and figured I would surf to see if any races were on the way home. Well low and behold I saw Tour of Mt. Nebo right in my path. Sign me up! I figured my new Cannondale Supersix would turn me back into the climber I used to be before I gained 10+ lbs from my old race weight.

The night before was the wedding and we partied pretty hard. So hard that my wife and I forgot our phones at the reception. Whoops! Luckily I did pass out around 11pm and got a good night's sleep at the foot of the bed on the floor. Not sure how I missed the bed but I snuggled up with my wife about midway through the night. Bare with me on the digression.

That morning I couldn't find my phone and it was getting close to the time I needed to leave. I checked a few places around the hotel with no luck. So I went to the business center, mapped directions from google maps and hit the print button. Man talk about old school. I was looking at close to thirty turns to get to the race with very little room to spare. I said goodbye to those that were awake and hit the road.

Luckily I didn't miss any turns and made it to the race with about 30 minutes to spare. Don't worry I wasn't planning to warm up because the race was longer than any training ride I had done this year.

Race time conditions were pretty good, sunny, high 80's with some wind. I was concerned not having someone to feed me and decided to stage my cooler at the top of the feed zone and if I got real desperate I would try to get ahead of the pack, stop and grab some bottles. Luckily I had also grabbed a couple of packets of Gatorade Prime and stuffed those in the jersey along with a Gu and two large water bottles (with three capsules of endurolytes in each). The Gatorade Prime came in very handy and allowed me to not have to stop for my cooler because they have a considerable amount of liquid calories.

The race was scheduled for 5 laps of a 9 mile circuit with a reported 1000+ feet of climbing per lap.

We started off in a rolling neutral for the first mile. The flag was dropped and the racing began. I tried to stay in the top 15 or so and occasionally institute the fat man fade. For those that don't know this is where you start at the front of the group and slowly fade back as you are climbing. It works great as long as the group is big enough. During the race there wasn't much attacking but just steady leg breaking tempo up the climbs. I knew the best way for me to survive was to spin like a mad man up the climbs and thankfully I had a 25 tooth cog to make this happen. I kept looking around and seeing guys that weighed a little over a plastic bag and thought to myself what the heck am I doing here.

By the completion of the 3rd lap I looked around and saw the group was reduced to about 20 riders from the original 55 and I was starting to think that I might be able to finish pretty well in this race. Of course, nothing in bike racing is ever that easy and on one of the big descents on the back side a guy mid pack decided it was a good time to invert his bicycle. I am not sure how it happened but all I saw was a guy endo with his legs flying up in the air and then lots of sliding on the ground at 40+ mph. Ouch!! The last part of his skin reduction treatment involved him sliding on his arse. I think he is going to need a butt donut for a little while. Unfortunately for me, I had to grab a handful of brakes to avoid a similar fate and this caused me to be unhitched from the group.

Once I got back up to speed, I buried my head and charged on to reconnect with the group. Thankfully I was able to latch back on after a mile. The only problem was that just after I came back we were starting the big climb on the backside of the course. I held on as long as possible but lost contact about midway up the climb. I kept going as best I could with the only hope being that I would be able to join other dropped riders to chase back on. Once I got to the top I looked back and saw two guys that were close and I waited for them. We chased for about 2 miles and were able to get back on.

Proof I was in this, me with head down.
Photo Credit: Julie Elliott

I was not looking forward to tackling the finishing climb to enter the last lap but the climbers of the group decided a moderate pace was sufficient for this lap. The rest of the last lap was pretty tame until 1k to go, when a guy took a flyer leading up to the finishing climb. I was a little too far back and a lead group of 6 separated from the rest of us. I managed to move my way up during the climb but suffered like a dog. I think people from three counties over could hear me breathing. I was closing on one guy with 100 meters to go and wasn't sure if I could find any more gas in the tank but managed to pass him with 20 meters to go. That was good for 8th place, last in the money! Sweet!! Thank you Cannondale Supersix for being so nice and light!

So not a bad race for me. The course was awesome. You could go wide open through most of the descents once familiar with them. I would definitely come back for more punishment in the future.


  1. fat man I have to do this race sometime. I've heard it's tough. Congrats on the top 10!

  2. Thanks, it was cool course. If I spent some more time in the hills, I could do pretty well at this race. We gotta do it next year. There was only 16 guys in the 1/2/3 race.