The NW Epic Series hosted the 4th annual Cap Forest 50 down in Olympia, WA. This was my second attempt at the race, though my goals were somewhat different from last year. Last year was simply “can I do this?” Since most of this year was focused on triathlon training, I hadn’t spent nearly as much time on the mountain bike. Once I finished the Lake Stevens Half Ironman on July 21, my motivation fell through the floor. I basically took most of the last 5 weeks off, hoping that the hard 8 months of training would carry me through this 50 mile effort. For the most part it did.
Though I was only 10 minutes faster than last year (would have been closer to 18 minutes if I hadn’t missed a turn on course – more on that later), I was in much better shape as I crossed the line. I wasn’t fighting the bike, and according to Strava, I absolutely decimated my downhill segments compared to last year. So all of that is great news. I’m a bit bummed that, for the most part, the race season is over. A bit. I need a break. I still have the Tiger Mountain Enduro coming up in a month. My plan for that race is to have as many runs on Tiger between now then to really hone my downhill skills on the short travel bike.
My Maxxis tires worked very well in the conditions. I rode an Aspen up front on my SRAM Rise60, and a Crossmark on the rear. I love my Smith Pivlock V2s, but really want a yellow or orage lens for the variable light conditions we get out here. The Ignitor was the wrong lens for the conditions.
Since this is likely the last race report for the seasons, I figured I would do something fun. Here’s my Cap 50 by the letters.
A – Awesome. That’s all I can say about the organization of the NW Epic Series. I have competed at 4 of their races in the last 2 years and they really do have their stuff together. Huge support from volunteers, great sponsors, amazing on-course refueling, including mechanics at every aid station. Just awesome.
B – Ballz! The descents on the course are crazy. You know you are going to have fun when the race organizer says during the pre-race meeting “part of this is a bona fide downhill race course. IT’S OK TO WALK.” The course is fun, and I had a lot more fun this year than last year. My skills are up, but for most of the descent, all I could think about were some of my Project 529 team mates (Nate, VB, and Mark were front of mind) and how much fun they would be having on these 30+ minute downhill sections.
C – Cardio. I have a lot of thanks to give to my coach for the year. Ben Bigglestone of VO2MultiSport has done wonders for me. I have a long, long way to go to be competitive, but I could tell that I was so much more prepared for this race than I was last year, even if I did slack off most of the last month.
D – Dicks. I hate to be negative in this post, but man, there were so real dicks on the course. The nature of XC racing is that there are going to be inevitable stacks ups at the beginning of a race, especially with so much uphill at the front. What I don’t get are the two clowns that decided that they would hike a bike on anything resembling a steep climb. Worse, they wouldn’t get. the. hell. out. of. the. way. Seriously. Get off the trail and let everyone else by you. I get that you think you are racing, but you are holding everyone up, and they are all yelling at you. Worse was the guy behind me. I wish I had looked at your number plate. I almost punched you in the face. I was stopped. So was the guy in front of me, and the next 7 people. Why you decided to start commenting about how much you “hate rich assholes who buy carbon Specialized bikes and then can’t ride as fast as [you]” was beyond me. I don’t care that you think that “carbon doesn’t make you fast – hard work makes you fast.” I know you were talking about me. This went on for some time with various derogatory comments. This was the real gem: “The rear cassette on that bike costs $400. You know what I would do with $400? Feed my family.” My first instinct was to turn around and punch you, because I had had enough of your mouthing off. Then I settled down, and was about to turn around and say “you sound so intelligent, I am surprised you don’t make more money so that feeding your kids isn’t such a problem.” I decided not to bring his kids into this. In the end, I simply pulled over, and without even turning around, let him pass. You’re a dick. Riding with people like you makes people unhappy. It’s bad energy and I didn’t want to be around it. Dick.
E – Ejected! There’s nothing like crashing. Well, not unless you get ejected from your bike. According to the data, I was moving at about 14 mph. My pedal hit something. I flew through the air. Surprisingly, my high school Ju-Jitsu kicked in and I rolled out of the fall on the trail and came up standing. And completely confused about what happened. Oh well. I got thumbs up and a fist pound from some of the people behind me.
F – Frickin’ Wasps. Last year it was bees. This year there were wasps. The bees were out, but they left me alone. Sadly, the guy who tore through some brush kicked up a very angry mob of wasps. There were 6 of us riding together, and we counted at least 18 stings among us. I got one in the neck and on the back of my thigh. The leg shot still hurts 24 hours later. Grrr.
G – Gravel roads. If you want to line yourself up for some suffering, come out to Cap Forest. The 7 mile fireroad to the top sucks. But in that sweet suffering kind of way. Not nearly as steep as Tiger Mountain, it just goes on and on and on.
H – Hills. There are more than enough ups on this course for anyone. It makes for some great descents, but the total climbing was close to 6K feet. Tough day in the saddle.
I – Inches. There are parts of this course that are basically no different than riding skinnies. At high rates of speed. With turns. Most of the course was well cut and wide. Most. There were several segments where you really couldn’t see what was around the corner, and you could barely see the trail. My bike handling skills are suspect already. This course had plenty to make me nervous.
J – Jumps. I am sure this will eventually end in tears, but now that I know how to jump a bike, I look for them on the single tracks. That can lead to some interesting results. The tree I almost hit. The hair pin corner I all but overshot. The trail going off to the left that I didn’t see before being airborne. Yeah, tears are in my future.
K – Kids. There was a kid on course who was killing it. We climbed the second half of the fire road beast going stroke for stroke. Young Asian kid. Blue stripes on the jersey. If you read this, great job. I rode harder to keep up with you.
L – Long. 50 miles for mountain biking is long. This isn’t 50 miles of fire service roads. It’s got quite a bit of straight up single track. It’s a great place for riding here in the PacNW. We really should get out there more.
M – Missed Turn. There’s nothing greater than flying down a fire road toward the end of 50 mile race. You know you are close to the finish and you are hammering. You probably should be watching where you are going though. That cost me about 6-8 minutes. It took me a while to figure out I missed the turn, and then I had to pedal back UP the fire road. Ugh. Total suck. That said, if it wasn’t for the amazing course markings by the organizers, the lack of course markings may have gone unnoticed and who knows how long I would have ridden off course.
N – Near collision. Not sure who you were or what you were doing. You had a number plate on your bike. You were not in a 2 way traffic zone. If you had given up on the race, you should not have been going that fast going in the wrong direction. We almost collected each other. I am glad we both decided to dodge right. That was a GoPro moment if ever there was one.
O – Oh my goodness, that’s a tough race.
P – Proper trail markings. Refer to M.
Q – Queue. As stated above, stackups happened. For a race of this size and distance, I can only hope that the organizers will think about maybe trying wave starts with chip timing for next year.
R – Ride More. The 529 motto. I love the motto and have lived it this season. It was a great one.
S – Sasquatch! Around mile 47, I was trying to reel in another rider. Were hammering through the slightly downhill single track section. He went through a twisty section and I lost sight of him. What I saw scared the crap out of me. Bear in mind, at this point my mind was so completely addled by exhaustion. I was scope locked on the trail, and my attention to detail was vague at best. What I saw through the trees was a very large gray animal and some arms flailing about 8 feet off the ground. My brain said (and I am 100% serious about this): “that’s a fucking sasquatch!!” Turns out that it was a very angry man on a horse, and the horse had just reared up and almost kicked the other rider. I can laugh about it now. It sounds so ridiculous even telling the story. But for a short moment, I thought we had happened upon the great mystery of the pacific NW.
T –Team. I missed the rest of the 529 guys. I was the lone rider out there for this effort. Bummer. The upside was that there were 2 of them out there riding the downhill. Geo all but ran me over with his car, but I give him marks for sneaking up on me. Glad they stuck around for the beer garden.
U – Unbelievable. The fact that we are lucky enough to get to spend 5+ hours doing anything so incredibly selfish as riding around on bikes is ridiculous. Thank you to all of the series organizers, sponsors and volunteers.
V – Volunteers. Can’t say enough about them for the NW Epic Series crew. So helpful. So nice. So organized. Great job. Seriously, can’t say enough. You guys rocked it.
W – Wasps. WASPS!!!
X – Xylem. Definition – the woody part of plants. Applicability? I smacked into a few of these during the course of the day. One of which pitched me over the handlebars.
Y – Yowsa! There are some seriously high penalty corners on this race course. Super high penalty. At one point on a downhill section I was reeling in another rider when I decided I needed to take it easy as I was scaring myself. I got on his rear wheel and he asked if I wanted to pass. When I didn’t, he picked it up. And up. And up. He was moving around quite a bit. I was still under my limit, but was getting close to it. He suddenly stopped. I stopped, confused. He said “yowsa. I’m riding way too fast right now and you’re stressing me out being that close. You’re faster, let me see if I can follow you.” I appreciated the honestly. We both had a chuckle right there on the course.
Z – Zen. That’s where my mind goes when I am on a bike. Same with running, though not as nearly much. Not so much when I am swimming. That’s something for me to think on this off season.