Updated: Aug 23
Ore To Shore/Mt Morris 2-4-1
Yesterday was Mt Morris Challenge WORS #8
It was silly hot 34C/93F 🥵
But first about last week…
Ore To Shore what the heck?
After a lack luster Ore To Shore, I was really scratching my head, hoping it was just sickness. I know, I know, 5th ain't all that bad...but I can pinpoint, with clarity, a chilling footstep running Misery Hill (Thanks Casey for the footage from 2021). Yes for those unfamiliar with Ore To Shore everyone runs Misery Hill thru old iron & sand deposits, scrambling to the top as footsteps try to find placing & your bare legs and arms slip or scathe past the gardens of uncut wildflowers on either side of that rite of Ore to Shore ancient passage. While driving shoe & sole into grinding shale rock, a moment froze in time for me and etched into my memory more than most of the memories from this race. A little pang of annoyance went back up through my left leg, it slightly jolted, just a little shake, an involuntary pause. It was unfamiliar enough of a sharp weakness in the leg for what should be peak fitness and a desire to compete that it gave me mental pause amidst "run of the bulls" moments of competition. I think as athletes we get very in tune with listening to our bodies, and if quiet enough can even hear these little signs sometimes, for good or warning. It was not an overt pain, just a single signal moment of shakiness in planting of step that trembled a little, but began what was more shakes to come. This was an altogether different feeling from the well known racing type 2 fun endurance suffering...this feeling seemed to be a slow tipping point, not fast snap like a breaking twig, but rather a well aged tree falling down as it is cut off at the trunk. Despite all I could muster in my Will or Frontal Cortex, that feeling went straight into my regulatory system....my body was saying "I really don't wanna do this right now"...
I watched Caleb, Brian, Jordan, & Dax slowly ride away over the techy rock formations, missing the infamous split that almost always takes place in this section. After missing the break I remember looking down often to check the power gauge on my Garmin. I knew what I could do comfortably for the remainder of the race from all the weeks building up threshold training. But there just wasn't anything more for any kind of chase. I slugged out 150-160 Beats Per Minute tempo/sweet spot for the next 25ish miles. It was a super solid sub threshold 300 watts to hold onto 5th place. Strava Post here. It just felt way off in all the key racing moments of competition, the moves that really matter. My body was totally unwilling to give one bit more than the minimum, system just held the governor on my engine, to what now seems a protective measure.
This post got me searching back thru some old photos from years past. Who remembers the years before this bridge was built in the early sections of ATV trail always wondering how deep the "puddle" or small pond would be and if rideable!
Misery Hill recon "back in the day" 2012. Who can name these guys!? A couple of long time U.P. local strong men!
At first crossing the line I kind of chalked it up to a bum race, but I had a little more of that "stare into distance" reflection than usual after not meeting expectations in a performance. The amount of work, good sensations, and objective data we had coming into this one just seemed to say I was better than what the day had to prove. Well, sure enough, within about an hour of the finish I was in shakes/aches. By the time we started to drive home I had to stop driving and started jacking up on IB PROFEN. We stopped for a mega latte and a few extra tablets to get me sharing the driving load as Gabriela tends to not do well on long stints of driving. It was couch and sleep for a few days, just hating existence kinda aches. Obviously pulled the plug on training for most of the following week and waited. The WORS series overall still in contention for the last 2 races needing a win, you could say I was a bit nervous about where this sickness was heading! Then fast forward to Thursday this past week before Mt. Morris.
After a bit of rest and a little tune-up Thursday, the systems seemed a go. Despite still having a little aches, making me wonder should I just go back to sleep...I decided open the throttle now or it'll be too late this weekend! Headed out for a semi hard Lapham loop & a Lapham Peak climb opened me up a bit, always still had an annoyed tired feeling lingering aches, but the numbers were good and I felt awake. I decided to give a 20 minute classic threshold interval a try on the way home, but with a negative split on raising the watts slowly rather than bite off more than I could possibly fail to chew. As the first few minutes went on the sensations grew to smooth and growing power, by 10 minutes in I knew it was a really good effort. To my surprise I did a Personal Best outdoor 20 min interval across the last few years. Looking forward to the weekend this had me feeling hopeful, especially after a week of questioning bike life. Really, I just wanted to feel kinda normal again, even after good sensations, you can wonder, it's not like I wasn't feeling pretty dang good the weeks leading into Ore To Shore.
Mt. Morris That snail is fast
Well, systems were more than go Sunday 🏆Perhaps it was the help of heat though too, I really perform well in heat if I've prepared for it 🌡
So a little play by play. Defending champion of the series from last year Ben Senkerik seemed really motivated as he went crazy hard at the start to take the holeshot. It has been his forte as of late, but I think the fact that the series overall was on the line had some extra motivation, a fact I literally only just found out looking back at the results. Ben has dropped me pretty good in similar fashion early on in races, specifically twice in the last 2 years at WORS Collectivo Classic at Minooka park, somewhat similar conditions as well with heat and technical trails. Ben can tend to ride steadily strong to hold off a chase once he gets a gap, so its hang tight for Ben dynamite usually.
I followed over the first climb, and could tell it was a good day just from feeling in control after a pretty hard start line punch. Side note, prior to that start I had like an 8 minute warm up, just rising wattage into threshold for a couple min with a punch or two at the end, then just line'er up 😅 Maybe it was the coffee press and SIS Beta fuel from TheFeed 20 minutes prior ☕️🤯
I only have 3rd person video from Gabi's race but this give you an idea of the start climb into descent as she was battling on the downhill with Lyllie Sonnemann & Holly Lavesser.
Cole House wanted 2nd wheel and charged a bit taking that spot into the single-track. I semi contested for a moment, but decided to trust my skills & perhaps it was time to really test the new Kenda Rush I was running. The tire setup felt insanely fast the day before, so if I can follow these two comfortably I'm probably finding my groove and preferred tires again, but I was REALLY hoping it wasn't just placebo at this decision point! I followed and felt comfortable enough, but it seemed we were going pretty hard with Ben on the front. I played with riding Cole's wheel as close as possible for a little draft. After a few surges that seemed unnecessary on my part, I'm finally figuring out that we just ride single track differently. Allowing a little room actually used less surging energy for me, while he is smooth his way, if I try to follow close I end up surging way more. We just enter and exit corners really differently. I feel like he attacks them tighter with whippier movements and body power adjustments, while I tend toward wider rolls thru corners with speed on exit rather than apex. So a little learning and I saw my heart rate & effort actually dropped a bit, giving me just a bit of room to ride the corners my way where it mattered, yet rolling up for a little draft in the straighter sections.
The first sections of Mt Morris are flat and very turny. We race around some woods at the bottom of the Mt Morris Ski Hill with "new" singletrack that was built when NICA started having races here as well. The second half is all on the Ski Hill, with one climb to the top followed by a few descents to the bottom or a quarter to halfway up a couple more times. So, really hard, sharp climbs between about 1 min to 5 minutes long separated with pretty tech rocky/rooty descents, finish the lap and back to the "new" long FAST sandy single track section to start a new one.
There used to be a PRO XCT National that came here "back in the day" & we only used the hill, which added quite a few more climbs way further up with crazy gradients. This also added a few extra World Cup like drops & tech descents, that was before the single track down below the hill was added. Both are good, but I definitely remembered many times doing pain blistering thru my skin type pacing on this hill with the North Americas top athletes on an insanely more difficult course. I wondered how it would be going today on that course as we rode past each cut off to NOT keep going uphill.
So after Ben led thru the first flat section he ramped it up REAL HARD over a well known lower slope heading into the main ski hill climb, same one seen in this video from Gabi's race.
To give an idea how hard, it was enough to take the all time KOM. Cole let a a little gap go and I snuck around to grab on before we hit some tight techy rock garden single track followed by a switch back climb to the top. Once we hit the climb I was definitely watching that Heart Rate a bit in this HEAT! 178-179-180...yikes, but I kept coming up to Ben's rear wheel on each switch back turn and felt I had a tad more, perhaps maybe he was hurting from his opening kamikaze style. Once past the switch-backs it flattens out for a few turns and I sensed Ben slowing, there was just enough room off trail to pass. I shifted up and accelerated over & through the flattening out. A gap opened pretty quickly and I just kept the gas on thru the second half of the climb to the top. In the back of my head I was thinking "are we going too hard" can you manage this, careful! IT'S HOT! I'm pretty sure this exact scenario in the exact same spot played out with myself and Wisco Disco Brian Matter a few years back, with me being the victim of his acceleration. But he may have been chasing a hard charging TJ Woodruff that day 🤔
With the kind of day it was, I knew even with the gap opened quickly, it could come back just as fast as it opened up if I went too hard! So I really made sure to manage my effort to stay as consistent as possible, while taking full advantage of the climbs and making sure I paid close attention to my capacity, especially respiration having "enough to breath" & power over each climb in order to accelerate with speed into all the flat & faster downhill sections. I was able to execute rolling in solo with a solid a gap & a little celebration at the line.
Milo & Micah kept trading off water hand up & pour overs.
My boys and Gabi did an amazing job with water, and thanks to TheFeed I was able to stay on top of fuel really well with 5 gels and 5 bottles total from start to finish. This last one was ice water and freaked me out, you can hear me scream from the cold when I poured it over, soooo good and sooo YIKES at the same time with the 90+ degree heat! Micah & Milo so on point cheering and supporting Dad!
Great win for 3 Guerra's today as Gabi won her race, and Micah won the kids' race. He's talking about doing the Junior race at the next one! Had to have a little fun with this finish feeling so good on the day! This also solidifies the series overall for both Gabi & I for the 2023 Season Champions! Just took me a few races to catch up to her 💃 💪😉
Just a week late on a big goal with the good legs and body, but that's part of it. Excited to see how this fitness might build thru till Sept and November 😊😉
I'll have some 360 footage up soon as Gabi & I both used the 360 camera today. Thanks for reading. Don't forget you can keep up with all things Vision by becoming a member of the site for free and check our socials linked on our Elite Team page for more day to day content and fun!