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High Cascades 100, 2019

High Cascades 100 is a 100 mile mountain bike race in Bend, Oregon that is typically held the third weekend in July. The course changes each year. This year's classic route took you on single track trails around Mount Bachelor, passing by Lava Lake and climbing 1500 feet in 3 miles on the Edison Lava Trail. It's steep (I think I heard that sections are 20%) and its littered with lava rock. The kind that can shred your tires and skin. Sounds fun, right? I had raced on this course in 2015 so I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. It’s a tough one, made tougher this year by the warmer conditions, drier trails and over 9000 feet of climbing.

Why did I sign up and commit to this craziness again?

This year the race fell on my 50th birthday. I'm not a ceremonial person by nature, but I liked the idea of doing something epic to celebrate this landmark. What could be better than riding my mountain bike all day?

When I raced in 2015 the conditions were perfect. It was cool (in the 70s) and it had rained the week before. The trails were riding fast and I finished in around 9:30 hours placing me 3rd overall.

In 2019 there were a few things different:

- It was about 10-15 degrees warmer,

- The trails were dustier with more loose sand,

- I had hurt my back Feb 2017 and despite lots of physical therapy, body work, images, acupuncture, etc. I couldn't quite get to a place where I was pain free and,

- I was 4 years older.

Given these differences, I knew I needed to adjusted my expectations, perspective and my approach to training. I needed more recovery time after long training rides. I needed to keep my body as strong and balanced which meant more time at the gym (thanks ADAPT). As it turns out hurting my back has been a blessing in disguise. It helped to change my perspective and attitude. Now, I don't ever take it for granted when I get to do epic training rides or races. I'm full of gratitude for these opportunities. I really made an effort to focus on enjoying the process of training (the journey), rather than fixating on the end result (the race). I truly appreciated every training ride I did, and the time with friends who shared trail time with me. It wasn't until about 10 days before the race that I knew my back was going to cooperate and allow me to race. And I was OK with this. I was grateful that I'd been able to put in the work and I had fun in the process.

I'm a planner by nature. I love getting lost in all the little details when preparing for a race like High Cascades. My training strategy worked so well for me in 2015, that I copied that with a few modifications to accommodate my cranky back. I used my same fueling plan which had also worked well. I used Allen Lim's Sushi Rice bars with blueberries and chocolate recipe (from his Feed Zone Portables Recipe book), along with bags of GoMacro bars, nut butter filled Cliff Bars, Cliff Bloks energy chews and Honey Stinger energy chews. For hydration I decided to change things up a bit to see if I could prevent the leg cramps I typically experience during long races. This time around I alternated between Ultima Replenisher, Osmo, and EFS.

Equipment / clothing:

- Bike: Liv Pique with Racing Ralph and Racing Ray Tires and a dropper post.

- Top tube feed bag filled with bars pre-cut into bite sized pieces

- Spare inner tube duct taped under saddle

- Tools and CO2 in an Elite Byasi Tool Holder for the bottle cage (less weight on my back)

- Sugoi Sun sleeves

- Bandana to prevent breathing in all the dust at the start of the race.

- Betwixt Chamois cream

- Zealios Sun Block

- Limar Ultra light + helmet