Monday, September 21, 2015

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ore to Shore

Since 2010 Team JTree has represented at this classic summer race across the great north. The scenery, the trails, the beer... oh the beer... all make for a trip well worth the drive.

After crossing the finish line, we usually shuffle around the finish area dazed and exhausted, covered in a red dust, with a beer in hand, looking like we just returned from a mission to Mars. But this year was different. A slow steady rain Friday night kept the dust down and made for a fast, albeit slightly muddy, course. And left most of us splattered (or completely covered) with mud instead!

Jeff Poirier
20th out of 68 (35-39)

Steve Poirier
23rd out of 51 (30-34)

RJ Meske
35th out of 68 (35-39)

Scott Walter
51st out of 116 (40-44)

Bruce Slowey
32nd out of 76 (50-54)
Chris Molnar
47th out of 68 (35-39)

Steve Butler
69th out of 103 (45-49)


O2S according to Steve:
2015, the year of the sheep. Also the year of my 5th Ore to Shore. It's been a strong year for me and having completed several races and many many training rides, I felt prepared for the race. The last time I raced here was 2013, and while it was a strong ride, I ended up on the side of the trail with 10 miles to go, trying in vain to fix my broken chain. I fixed it and carried on, but my time suffered. 

As I stood at the starting line with Jeff, Scott and RJ – listening to the national anthem and watching Jeff try to fix Greg's suddenly busted jersey zipper – I thought maybe, just maybe, I could break 3 hours this time. With the national anthem over, and Greg's zipper not fixed, the gun fired and we we're off. On and off Scott's wheel during the paved rollout, I was finally able to grab on and stick like glue once we hit the dirt. The usual red dust had been tempered by rain the night before, and we were moving fast. Jeff was gone – up ahead of us – and RJ had fallen behind. For now, It was just me and Scott.

Eight Miles in we were bombing down a rough road, dodging huge puddles and running through others like we were on slalom course. As I approached a puddle that was split down the middle by a 12 inch land bridge, I saw the tire in front of me take the middle, so I followed, as it seemed like the logical thing to do. Without a chance to react, I was sliding sideways.... aaaaaand I'm in the puddle. It was dark and sticky, like melted chocolate, and I was now covered in it. As I collected myself and got back in the saddle, Scott came running toward me yelling "Steve!" Now covered head to toe in mud, he didn't recognize me and kept running right past me!

Having been waylaid by my detour into the cesspool, RJ caught up to us and we got back into a grove, eventually making up ground that we'd lost. I couldn't wipe the sweat out of my eyes because my gloves were covered in mud. So as we trudged through the power line roads and up misery hill, I squinted, closed my eyes tight and used my camlebak tube to rinse things off so I could see. Because seeing is important. Adding insult to injury, I had lost a full bottle of Infinit Nutrition, and with only a 1/4 of a bottle left and some water in my camlebak, I needed to start rationing.

With me in survival mode, Scott, then RJ pulled away. I was forcing Bonk Breakers down my throat every 20 minutes to keep the electrolytes up and slowly sipping my Infinit custom blend like it was liquid gold. Thinking I was destined to ride the remainder of this thing on my own, I saw Scott up ahead of me. He'd slowed down for me and was now pulling my tired ass across the Dead River Basin on 510. We linked up with a group and started gaining on RJ. I could see him. We needed to catch him. Scott handed me his bottle of perpetuem and I took a big pull of it. I was recharged!

Thirty-three miles in, with RJ in our sights, Scott was looking tired. I asked if he wanted to make a run with me (he'd saved my ass this whole race!), but he declined. So I powered forward and caught RJ with about 9 miles to go. "Come-on RJ, you're slowing down!" I yelled. "I'msogksdljsfiafr dsfafd tired fdsafjk cramps" (or something) he replied. I was tired and cramping too. It was brutal. So I started to equate distance left to known trails. "Only a blue loop at Island to go." or "Almost there, just a Maybury without the twisties!". It was working, but the cramps got worse. I was pedaling squares. Up. Forward. Down. Backward. Repeat. 

Pavement. I'm so close. I think I can break 3 hours! Nope. I propelled myself across the finish line without an effort. I had nothing left in the tank. Three Hours. One Minute. Forty-Nine seconds. I was pumped about that. 34 Minutes better than my previous best. I'll take it.


Check out RJ's version of events:
While 2015 marked my first Ore to Shore experience, it has been a race that I have been wanting to complete for quite some time. The stars finally aligned this year and I was both excited and nervous to give the 48-mile, Hard Rock race a shot. Actually, I was a bit more nervous than excited. Before this race I had yet to race anything longer than the Barry Roubaix 36-miler and that doesn’t have anywhere near the same type of course challenges that the Ore to Shore Epic does. Sprinkle in a little downward trend in saddle time over the past couple of months, and you have a recipe for an extra bit of anxiety leading up to the race.

The morning of the race was beautiful, nothing like the overcast skies and steady rain most of the day prior. Unfortunately a combination of nerves and tent camping left me with a lack of sleep from the previous night and I was already feeling tired during our warm-up ride.  Once we were in the corral, anxiously awaiting the start of the race, things started to change. While still anxious, I started to get more excited surrounded by my fellow JTree teammates: Scott, Jeff and Steve and several hundred other racers. 

The rollout was fast, faster than I expected. I saw Scott trying to catch Jeff’s wheel, but Jeff was on a mission and nobody on our team was catching him that day. About a mile in I finally got on Scott’s wheel, but soon lost it as we left the pavement and hit the infamous red dirt. Actually, it was more mud than dirt for the first mile or so, the rain from the day prior sure would be a presence throughout the race. For the next several miles I was doing my best to keep my heart rate and pace in check. My tendency to go out strong and struggle towards the finish was at the forefront of my mind throughout the first half of the race and I was doing everything I can to make sure that didn’t happen.

After losing my teammates in the first couple miles I was sure I would not see them until the finish line. To my surprise, Steve’s bad luck and Scott’s sportsmanship invalidated my assumption. Around mile 8 or so, Steve took a spill and Scott stopped and turned around to make sure Steve was ok. That’s when I caught up to the two of them and was able to keep them in sight for the middle half of the race. They stayed in front of me for quite some time, but Misery Hill and a fair amount of hike-a-bike kept me close behind and feeling ready to start the second half push.

The second half of the race is a tale of two experiences. Miles 24-36 were great, I felt strong and the general downhill course profile was exactly what I needed. I managed to get out in front of Scott and Steve by attaching myself to a large group of 10 or more riders. At this point I really thought I was going to break 3 hours and have a very successful first Ore to Shore. Unfortunately my legs did not share the same sentiment and started the slightest twinges of cramps around mile 36 and went to full-blown, leg-lock at mile 42. I actually had to get off my bike and attempt to stretch, unfortunately when I tried to stretch my quads, my hamstrings would seize. Standing on the side of the trail with only 4 miles to go, I actually thought I might not finish. Then, two bikers came roaring by and one shouted, “suck the fucker up!” This gave me just enough motivation to hop back on the bike, polish off my remaining Infinit Nutrition bottle and push through to the end.

Crossing the finish in 3:05 was bitter sweet. My time was respectable, but I felt horrible and was disappointed that I did not break three hours. It was a good learning experience and I will definitely change a few things next time, because there will most certainly be a next time.


Here's what Scott had to say:
This was my 2nd time racing at Ore to Shore. I flatted last year so I expected a much better result this time around. Shooting for under three hours, I took a wrong turn at mile 37 and lost 5-6 minutes. After that I lost my motivation.