Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Crusher in the Tushar 2013 Race Report

On paper the Crusher does not look all that ominous, 69 miles and 10,500 vertical feet of climbing.  In practice this race is absolutely diabolical.  A word of caution if you are thinking about doing this race, it's hard.  Easily on par with Leadville 100 and the Park City Point to Point.  It is a well oiled machine.  Burke Swindlehurst and the volunteers in Beaver do a fantastic job catering to racers needs both during, before and after the race.  This was my third year of suffering through this race and certainly won't be the last. I thought I would throw out a couple of thoughts for what it's worth.

I had three goals going into this race.
1. Don't blow up and get shot out of the back of the peloton until after the start of the dirt 11 miles into the race. 
This is something I failed to do the first and second time I raced this course as I tried to keep up with the cross bikes on my fat tired MTN bike.  (This year I ran 700x35 cross tires which worked much better.) 
2.  Don't blow up on the flat through Junction trying to keep up with pace lines. Another thing I failed to do the first two years.
3. Do not under any circumstances walk any part of the KOM climb.

For me what makes this race so hard is the sustained effort.  Most MTN Bike races have more of a sawtooth profile, shorter climbs broken up with descents.  Lots of little breaks to get your legs back.  The Crusher has one break at approx miles 25-38 where you descend the washboarded Col D' Crush followed by a short steep section of pavement.  These miles are an insignificant portion of the race and before you know it you are back on the throttle. 

The sufferfest starts in earnest when you pass the 20 miles to Finish sign which greets riders at the base of  the Col D' Crush. Year one I walked a good portion of this climb.  Year two... I walked a significant portion of this climb.  The pro's install mountain cassettes on their cross bikes so they don't have to walk sections of this climb. The last mile of the KOM climb is the hardest and longest mile I have ever ridden. 

Year three was good for me.  I still suffered just as much as previous years but for a shorter time.  Fitness and tire choice kept me from getting chewed up and spit out the back early.  I was able to work with other racers in all the areas where it was important.  I stayed in the peloton until we hit the first dirt section and then I got into a great paceline through Junction.  And finally I cleaned the Col D' Crush, that alone made the race a success.

For me this is a race against the clock.  I get beat by lots of people.  This year I was surrounded by friends for the final 10 miles which was awesome and I beat my PR by 48 minutes. 

Finish times
Year 1- 7:31
Year 2- 7:02
Year 3- 6:14
Year 4- Sub 6???

Next year I need to focus on the last 20 miles of the race which means I have some big mountains to climb between now and then. 

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