Ok, so this years annual Judgement Day post comes earlier because, well with the upcoming weather – ya got time to read it!
For those of you considering Judgement Day 2021/COVID-19 edition part II – two wordsDO IT.
Need more than that?
Ok………. (get ready for some reading)
Background – I did the 70 mile version of 2015 Judgement Day on 3 weeks training (when I finally caved to Greg Broussard’s peer pressure) and the 100 mile version of the 2016 Judgement Day with about 4 weeks of training (because I was coming off of broken ribs). I did NOT set any speed records and almost missed the cutoff one year, but I share that to say, I was not in great shape either time and I completed it. In 2015 it took me 20 hours to do the 70, and in 2016 it took me 23.5 hours to do 100 (beer was involved, more on that later). You can do this without an elite level of fitness, it just takes pacing and stubbornness.
I missed the 2017 JD because of a blown knee, so handed out ice towels and popsicles. And let me say, MAN did it SUCK missing the Judgement Day 2017, if you can avoid it NEVER MISS EM. For 2018 I actually trained, heat acclimated, did everything right and rocked it! Finished the 100 miler on a day that hit 110/111 degrees just after midnight, and felt pretty darn good (except for at Cedar Hill State Park – that kicked my ass).
2019 I broke my hip (NS Westside) so got a late start on training and it showed. Big Cedar liked to have killed me and I was cramping everywhere by the time I got to OCNP, but I swallowed my pride, walked the uphills (that sucked) and I made it. If memory serves, Sharon McNutt was hating life about that point as well and we suffered together. One of the great things about JD, joint suffering (it’s a thing).
Sadly I missed 2020 because I was opening an Assisted Living/Memory Care community (Teresa’s House – Craig Ranch) in McKinney (note the shameless business plug) that following Monday and being around hundreds of others in a pandemic, two days before welcoming our first seniors seemed like a really bad idea.
But this year I am vaccinated, it is an outdoor event, and unless the COVID variants get completely nasty – I will be there suffering with all of ya. That said, I am working insane hours as a business owner and can’t train like I would like so why am I doing the 100 again? Because I am stupid, I want to prove to myself I can – and I have learned to pace…..
Oh, and although the beer at the end of the 70 tastes awesome, the beer at the end of the 100 is the best you will ever have. Trust me on that one.
So Judgement Day 2021…..
This is an unbelievably epic event, and it is free. Free. A 24 hour event with lots of DORBA support and it’s flipping FREE. How often does something that epic happen free? SO DO IT (and thank DORBA for an epic, free event for members).
Why do it?
Trails – you will get to ride 10 DORBA trails in a day. You will likely ride trails you have never ridden before and for the first time will understand all those comments on DORBA’s FB forum about River Legacy, IDB, Johnson Branch, Erwin, Northshore, Corrinth or whatever other trail people talk about but you had never before ridden. That is a really cool part of the event – riding trails you don’t normally ride.
But let’s get to the real reason you are out there…..
Epicness – this is such a dadgum epic event it isn’t even fair to compare it to other events. It is tough, darn tough, but you can do it.
The roadies do 100 miles on basically flat pavement in August, call it Hotter than Hell 100 and think they are tough – how cute is that? We do 100 miles (or close to it) of mountain bike trails in late July cause we are mountain bikers and we are the studs/alphas of the biking world.
Own your greatness as a mountain biker!!!! And next time you hear a roadie brag about HtH, pat them on the head and tell them they are cute. Then invite them to try Judgement Day….
That said, JD is the real deal and there is no shame in not finishing. If you can’t finish it this year, see how many trails you can complete, and next year try to beat that number.
But that said – you CAN do it and WILL do it this year!
You have 24 hours – that means 2.4 hours per trail to complete and drive to the next one, you CAN do that. And the feeling when you finish is just awesome. Talk about a sense of accomplishment! Trust me, you will be stupid proud of yourself. You will take off your bike’s perfectly good top cap, you will replace it with your JD 2021 Top Cap and you will be ridiculously proud EVERY DADGUM TIME YOU LOOK AT IT. Although the words on the topcap say Judgement Day, they really mean – “you are a damn tough mountain biker and pushed yourself as far as you could, and made it.”
And rumor has it, the 2021 cap is going to be the best ever. No clue if that’s true, (I just made it up) but it sounds good.
You heard it here first – 2021 finisher cap, BEST CAP EVAH.
In addition, you won’t be suffering alone. One of the great things about doing JD is that you got a truck ton of other DORBA members out there sweating, dying, expressing their love/disdain of that particular trail AND rooting each other on. One of the highlights of my mountain biking career was JD 2015, hearing Sharon McNutt’s epic, spot on and LOUD description of what a badly rutted Frisco trail (the 9th out of 10 trails that year) had done to her tuckus. We were all #ViolatedByFrisco that year….. But we were all in it together and under pitch-black skies we were complaining, laughing and suffering in the wee hours.
Then in 2016 we all bonded over our hatred of Goat Island (sorry GI). Trail hatred is a Judgement Day thing and if ya haven’t done JD, you wouldn’t understand. But after this year, you will.In 2018 a State Trooper asked me at Knob Hill what the heck was going on and why were hundreds of cars stacked in the parking lot, and along the highway causing all sorts of traffic mayhem. I smiled and said “it’s Judgement Day sir…..”.
He seemed a bit shaken but curiously amused as he tried to call that one in to HQ.And then of course there was JD 2019 and Big Cedar. Have any of us forgiven Jason Barton and the crew who teased us with thinking we were done by running us back near the parking lot before sending us into hell for another several miles of hills? That was the first year we directed hatred at a person. Sorry Jason, but you were sadistic in how you laid the course out and ya hurt me bad…..
Ok, time for the tips:
Train – start upping your mileage every week. If you start soon, you can do it. As it heats up, start riding in the middle of the day as much as possible – you will think you are dying, but each time you do it, you will get stronger. Get to the point you can ride 3-4 trails back to back, including in the heat of the day. If you can do 5-6 trails back to back, great, but I just built up to the point of doing 3-4 in a day and did fine.
Start time – start right at the starting time. I know it is early, but you want to knock out as many trails as you can while it is relatively cool. Get after it!
Pace yourself. If your in awesome shape, hammer and knock yourself out (fyi – you might die). For the rest of us, keep a steady and sustainable pace. You will get some bursts of energy, 2nd, 3rd and 4th winds – resist the urge to hammer (unless you are on the last trail) as it will catch up with you. 2015, I got a burst of energy at OCNP (trail 4) and started to hammer and then got to experience full body cramping (fyi – that sucks). NEVER hammer in the middle of JD, unless you are an elite racer. Blake York saved my life by talking me into not falling over (that is bad when you are in a full body cramp) but instead he convinced me to stay spinning and make it to the parking lot. Had never met Blake before but now consider him a friend – and we swapped pickles for bandaids afterwards, so there is that. JD 2015 and OCNP was the time I learned about the magic of Yellow Mustard (more on that later).
Pacing yourself is key though, but even with a good pace, you will hit some walls. For me, in my first two JD’s, somewhere around trail 7-8 it gets pretty tough and my mind goes to a dark place and wants to quit. Two years ago OCNP was trail 7, and like clockwork I was hating life and alternating between praying and cussing. Key is, don’t give in – just keep pedaling, just keep pushing. Trail 9 comes and you realize, dang – I can do this. Trail 10 comes and you are in the home stretch baby. Then ya finish and it is that aforementioned epic feeling and a really good beer (even cheap beer tastes awesome after 10 trails).
2018, CHSP at 2pm when it was 110/111 degrees just kicked my butt and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Didn’t help that I was passing others who were at some point in the death continuum being helped off the trail. I remembered that when you smile it actually tricks your brain into thinking your happy. Sounds really goofy but I tried it – I forced myself to smile while keeping pace with Hector Bello, and it really worked – it made me feel better and I got through it.Side note – if it hits 110/111 degrees, consider NOT doing the trail with the most exposure and climbing in the middle of the afternoon (a restaurant with AC is a nice place to recover during that time).
Pacing part II – Take a break if you need one. The first two years we stopped somewhere for a reasonable (and late) lunch with air conditioning. My wife joined me at this point in the day and it is a cool break. And – it never hurts to let the body cool down in the middle of the day when you are cooked. Not like your going to make great time under the mid-day sun in late July anyway – so a 1-2 hr break, in that 2pm timeframe, can be a good thing. I likely should have done that in 2018 but didn’t (we did however take a shower break at a friend’s place and that cold shower was awesome).
Beer. Simon Hodgson and I decided in 2016 to drink a beer after every trail. We liked it, it made us happy and it was really NOT a very good idea….. (we quit drinking after trail 6 when hitting that trail 7&8 dark place) We did resume drinking after trail 9 and 10 though, part of the reason we took 23.5 hours! Drinking beer requires a driver (which we had). Last comment on Beer – they have some at the finish line (free even!) and the post Judgement Day beer WILL be the best beer you have ever had in your life.
Water. Drink a ton and make sure it is cold. A HUGE deal for me is to have a lot of ice in my Camelback for every trail. When the heat is kicking your butt, warm water sucks – and it sucks bad. Don’t underestimate the magical energizing powers of ice cold water in your pack while riding in July. Also if your on a trail by a lake and near overheating – ditch the shoes and gloves (and whatever else ya don’t want to get wet) and jump in. Really helps lower the body temp and it’s just fun. Also – have an ice chest, full of wash clothes (I call em ice towels), sitting in LOTS of water and ice in your vehicle. After you finish a trail, grab one of these towels of life saving goodness to use to rinse/cool your head, back of your neck and wherever else feels good. Do this after each trail – it is AMAZING and will cool you down and give you new life. However – do NOT put the wash cloth back in the cooler. Have 10 of them and use a fresh one for each trail as they will be nasty, and you want this water to stay fresh all day. (yes, you need multiple coolers for all you will bring).
Additional ice related thoughts for 2021
Volunteers will be out there with ice towels at many trails – use em. Even if you don’t feel you need it, use them. Keeping your body temp down early (when you still feel fine) is key to keeping from overheating.
Sharon McNutt did something in 2018 that I started doing in 2019 and it was awesome. When she hit the hotter trails in the afternoon, she loaded the pockets of her mtb jersey with ice. It melted the whole ride and kept cool water on her lower back/butt. May sound weird but when you are cooking – it’s a life saver.
In between trails (on the drive to the next trail) I would put a Ziploc bag full of ice and water on my wrists (inside) and my neck. Ankles help too. These are key points where you can quickly cool the body and doing this in between each trail really helps keep the body cool.
Work to cool your body off early – stay ahead of overheating because once it happens, its hard to recover. Cool off before you need it – and jump in EVERY lake you can.
Nutrition – plan for a ton of it and bring stuff you REALLY like. Variety can be good, if you know your body responds well to it. For me, almond butter/honey/banana sandwiches and Toffee Nut Buzz Cliff bars are treats I love and my body burns em well. If you ride with or near Simon Hodgson, he brings Snicker bars, Nutterbutters, Reeces peanut butter cups and other greatness, so mooch some. Reeces Peanut Butter cups also have magical powers (look it up) that come in handy on a long hard day. I have even had pizza mid-day as well. Test out what your body needs on your training runs and load up on the calories (you will lose a LOT of weight on the day). Bring somethings to eat that are treats – you will need something to look forward to/a picker upper.In 2018 and 2019 I did JD on the Keto diet. 3 big bulletproof teas, some pecans, crème cheese and a few berries (along with plenty of water on the trails) powered me up perfectly. Don’t try this if you aren’t fat adapted, but it worked awesome for me.
A really good unnamed buddy, who has done Ironmans, didn’t manage his nutrition really well last year. It caught up to him heading to trail 9. Let’s just say he still has his stock topcap on his bike…..
I generally run water in my Camelback for the first trail or two and then go to a watered down perf drink (Accelerade or something like it for me, but not at full strength). Remember, Gatorade is heavy sugar and I stay away from those because I find they are not sustainable. I also have gels and cliff blocks but try to save those for later in the day. Too many and they aren’t as effective – so I save them for the end, when I need the boost. I ate a pre-determined meal and drank a recovery drink after every trail. They were prepared and packed ahead of time (you don’t want to be mixing drinks, making sandwiches while dead tired and fuzzy headed late in the day).In 2019 I added NUNN tablets (2 per trail) and salt tablets (1 per trail) and ran pure water and no gels and did great. Salt tablets and NUNN are now staples.
Cramps – some of the freaks amongst us don’t cramp. I hate you people. For the rest of us who do get muscle cramps, it sucks. It almost ended me in 2015 when I had the aforementioned full body cramps after trail 4. My tri-athlete buddy shared the miracle of Yellow Mustard with me, that has since morphed into the miracle of Hot Sauce. Seriously – take a shot of yellow mustard or hot sauce after you finish every trail, it works (or at the first side of cramping). Cramps are basically neurological misfires and the shock of the yellow mustard/hot sauce snaps it back in. Google “Muscle cramps, hot sauce, Wall Street Journal”, if ya don’t believe me. I had dealt with cramps for years prior to learning this and have never had an issue since. I keep hotsauce in my Camelback at all times and we use it with my son’s sports teams also to get them through long tourneys. Go by Taco Bell or Taco Bueno and when no one is looking, grab a handful…. (I kid, by a Taco and THEN load up).
Hector Bello didn’t believe me but when Boulder brought him low in the 2018 JD, he became a believer in hot sauce. I now do hot sauce exclusively, keeping Taco Bell packets in my Camelbak and taking a precautionary shot before each trail.
Maintenance – lightly oil your chain after every trail (or every other trail). You wouldn’t go for 10 rides in the dusty heat of summer without oiling your chain would you? Well you are doing 10 rides during JD so oil your chain and periodically check your air pressure. Do NOT run an old chain for JD. Bill Thomas’ broke his early on and then he was in trouble. It went on to break literally 6+ times on JD 2016 and he was HATING life. Have a spare chain in your vehicle just in case, cause the shops close long before JD ends.
List – make a list of to-dos after each trail, put it in your car/truck where you will see it and read it before/after EVERY TRAIL. Mine used to say stretch, change, hydrate, eat, lube chain, etc. Because I am now going for speed, I don’t change as often. Regardless, make a written list as you will seriously get fuzzy headed as the day goes on and forget if you don’t have a written list in front of you. And if you forget to eat, drink, etc, you risk bonking and ending your day.
If you aren’t worried about setting speed records, a change of clothes for each trail is really nice. In years past, I would bag up a jersey, shorts and socks for each trail – put the trail name on it, and put it in my SUV. I chose my best hot weather stuff for the mid-day trails. May sound stupid but trust me, late in the day your mind goes fuzzy and your decision making sucks – and having it all bagged and labeled is nice. I also washed off with a wet towel to freshen up and especially to clean the nether regions, then I changed into fresh cotton shorts and t-shirts for the ride to the next trail. This takes time and if you are wanting to go faster, you can skip this or do it every 2nd or 3rd trail – but it sure feels good to put on fresh stuff. Amazon sells bike shorts cheap – buy ya some extras.
Your taint….. Your butt/nether regions/taint will be HATING life by the end of JD. Actually from about the halfway point on. Greg Broussard wore double shorts in 2015 and at days end when my nether regions were filing for a divorce from my body, his still somewhat liked him. I doubled up the last three trails and although it felt goofy, it worked. FYI….
I also stand as much as possible during the day (every chance I can coast), to limit the amount of time I am sitting on the saddle and wearing the nethers out. Also, butt butter, button hole, diaper rash crème (same stuff) – get it, apply it liberally, and appreciate it. Nuff said! And bring a first aid kit. Anything can happen and you want to be prepared.
Driver vs. Self Supported – I have done it self supported (2015) and with a driver (2016/2018/2019). It is doable self-supported and there is something nice about NOT having to wait on others (or have others waiting on you), but personally I prefer to do it with a driver and one or two others. If you are all evenly matched, it’s nice to have company (misery loves company) to talk while riding and piss and moan between trails. And you can ride with folks doing a different distance. My first year I did the 70 and Greg did the 100 – I would just wait for him at the end of trails (as he went longer distances). If you go solo, I would suggest bringing music and headphones (or if you don’t wanna be talking to friends while riding together). You are gonna spend a LOT of time on the bike, having something to entertain you is nice.
Side note – you will likely trash whatever vehicle you use as you throw used sweat towels, sweaty clothes and food in it, in between trails. Plan the vehicle you use accordingly and apologize ahead of time to the owner…..
And then the MOST important tip of all. BE NICE TO THE VOLUNTEERS!!!! I doesn’t matter if the start isn’t exactly on time, if a trail isn’t marked perfectly, if something isn’t clear or whatever ticks ya off, THEY ARE VOLUNTEERS!!! Every year there is that one rider who goes off on a volunteer for something stupid. DON’T BE THAT RIDER.
DO thank the volunteers profusely, DO take any popsicle or ice towel offered you and DO have fun. It is all for fun and it is (albeit with suffering).
And don’t back out because others do. Due to injuries, life, etc, others plans will change – you push through, you will be glad ya did.
Lastly – HAVE FUN. Take some pics, upload the fun ones to DORBA/the JD FB group during the race, get to know other riders and enjoy yourself.
So there ya go – everything I could remember from past JD’s, and hopefully enough to help you complete JD 2021, or at least make it farther than past years. DO IT – you will be so glad you did!And offer Garrick Whitnah, Luke Nix, Richard White, Jason Falk, Claire Sofhauser a beer if you see them (they do so much behind the scenes) and make sure and shout F cancer at Sharon McNutt every time you see her and thank her for all the work she and the others put in to this! Oh, and attend her pre-JD clinics. They are life-savers. And congratulate Richard on his big win at Sister Grove too – I hear he kicked butt there.
P.S. Lastly, but VERY IMPORTANTLY, buy the shirt AHEAD of time. You will be about as proud of it as you are the finisher cap…. That is it.
GO FORTH, claim your Alpha Status in the biking world and survive! And if you are a real bad ass, do it on a tandem…#Woodhall & Woodhall