Race Fuji Challenge 200 - Sep 22nd (Thursday)

GrantT

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Oct 2, 2012
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Enduro with solo and team 100 km and 200 km categories (web site).
Course is the Fuji Speedway circuit (segment). A bit of up and down, but mostly flat and wide.
Entry from now until Aug 22nd, or earlier if it fills up.

100 km race is done within 2.5 hours. 200 km within 5 hours.

Schedule on the day is:
07:00 Registration and test ride
08:00 Time trial starts
09:00 Riders start lining up
09:10 Kid's race
09:40 Opening ceremony
10:00 200 km and 100 km start
15:00 Team/Solo 100 km end
17:00 End to all racing
17:15 Awards ceremony
17:30 Rush for the exits

Not that far from Tokyo, and reachable by train on the day (for me at least). Just a few kms from the nearest station, which is Suruga-Oyama (駿河小山).

Any interested enduro specialists? @Tuomas ?

Tama Tuesday members get a free draft from me for the first 100 km.
 

GrantT

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Oct 2, 2012
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Bottles behind the seat sounds like a great idea.

I'm almost entered (just the paying money bit left) and ready to go.

More than a month of preparation time left @Tuomas. Plenty of opportunity to get into the swing of things.
 

GrantT

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So both Tuomas and I raced in the 200 km category on Thursday. You might remember Thursday as the day it rained a lot. Well it also rained a lot on Fuji Speedway as well. Temperatures also struggled to get anywhere comfortable and we were both shivering on the starting line while waiting for the off. That was after getting soaked through during the 2 km ride from our Minshuku to the course, and it didn't let up as we went out for a test lap.

Getting ready for the test lap

While the rain didn't let up for the majority of the day, it never turned torrential, and while everyone was thoroughly soaked there was never any standing water or rivers across the course. All categories started together, including 100 km and 200 km solo and team entrants. They had things organized pretty well I think. Slow riders on the right of the tarmac, fast riders on the left. Rolling start with everyone together for the first lap, after which things started to split up. There were what you might call "pace leaders", with groups of 5 or 6 guys riding with gillets on saying "5 hr 30 pace" or "6 hr 00 pace", and generally riders ended up in one of the groups riding behind or around those pace leaders. Of course, Tuomas and myself stayed in the quickest "5 hr pace" group (i.e. average 40 km/hr), or at least for some of the way.


The start

After we got going and warmed up a bit, we both found that the temperature wasn't really a problem. It was actually just at the right level to stop overheating but not cool you down so much to start shivering. It also made water bottles almost redundant, because you could get a pretty good mouthful of water off the back wheel of the guy in front. The tarmac was good, and being a motorsport course there were pretty much no bumps, no really sharp corners, everywhere was at least 15 metres wide, and even though the place was covered in water grip in the corners was well within safe. Overall, the course had about 50 metres of elevation per lap, mostly around a couple of corners just before the straight. If you got the right line through those corners you could keep momentum up and same a lot of energy, though in a large group choosing the best line was not always so easy.


Me looking uncomfortable riding a paceline on the straight (black and white kit)

I found the pace on the climbs pretty manageable, and as I got my lines worked out things actually got easier. Nearing the end of the 100 km race, us 200-km racers fell back a little behind a couple of pace leaders and let the 100-km people race it out. I was expecting that once the 100-km guys were done and off the course, the 200-km group might ease up a bit, but in reality the opposite happened, the 200 km guys actually sped up. Looking at my computer we added an extra 5 km/hr going through the finishing straight, and looking on Strava an extra 1 to 1.5 km/hr average for the 4.5 km course. Shit was on!

Fewer people in the front group actually also meant less bunching, so quicker cornering, while the higher speed down the straight (up from around 40-45 to 45-50 km/hr) made accelerating out of the climbing section to the finishing straight more of a challenge. But, at about 120 km in things were okay. I had half of one bottle left, and enough cake to keep me fueled. The caffeine pill stored under my bib shorts had disintegrated long ago, but I was keeping pace okay and felt like I could hold it to the end.

Overall, the rain hadn't been much of a problem. I got into the habit of clearing my brake track before any corner, and didn't see anyone loose control that much. A few guys went down early on, though got back up straight away, and one guy among a slower group fell off almost like he was looking for an excuse to quit. Certainly less than expected. That is, until I got taken out.

We were about 125 km in with a double paceline doing around 50 km/hr on the finishing straight. Probably 10 people ahead of me total, 5 in each line. Trying to conserve energy in the draft I couldn't see ahead of the guy in front of me, when I heard what sounded like a fall. The guy I was following veered right, revealing a jumble of 3 or 4 riders and bikes on the ground. The guy who veered almost cleared it but went down, and with what little time I had I did the sensible thing and tried to bunny hop the bloody lot of them. Okay, that was clearly the stupidest thing I could have done. I'll probably never know how close I was to clearing them, but I didn't, and my front wheel hitting one of the guys catapulted me over and into a rugby tackle with the tarmac my shoulder will never forget. I ended up about 10 metres down the road from the jumble of guys, lying motionless and not feeling too great.

When I got into the ambulance I could feel something wrong with my shoulder, so like the pros I held my right arm up on my left shoulder and tried not to cry. The damage is one cracked helmet (saved my skull), deep road rash on right shoulder, hip, and knee, and what they call a "separated shoulder". Apparently, a common injury with rugby players, though I bet they never tried tackling tarmac at 50 km/hr. Wimps.


Worse than it looks

Tuomas went on to complete the 200 km race in a very decent 17th overall, before we bagged our bikes up, took a taxi to the nearest station and went home. I couldn't really carry anything, so Tuomas and Momoko from HF who had come to watch helped carry my stuff. Muchos gracias to them. Went to the Orthopedic Clinic today to find out it's a "type 3" injury, which is pretty bad. In terms of severity, it's on the cusp between conservative therapy (i.e., no surgery) and surgery. Young people and sports people would tend to want surgery, while other people are content to have they collar bone stick out of their shoulder at a weird angle for ever.


Grade 1 - partial tear of one ligament, Grade 2 - full tear of one ligament, Grade 3 - what's that thing sticking out your shoulder?

Going to do a bit more research on this injury and consider if surgery is a good idea. Slept a bit last night, but pain should gradually go away. At least some of it is muscle pain from the fall and not just the shoulder. Shame my racing season had to end this way. I bet you are all wondering what caused the guys to go down though. I know I was. Well when they were bringing a few of us fallen men back from the medical centre to the paddock area I asked a guy next to me if he saw what happened. Apparently, his front wheel had overlapped the guy in front, and when someone moved towards him from the side he went down. That's right, this was the little fucker who caused the crash! Had a little go at him, he squirmed like a slug, didn't even apologise, as if "the guy moved in from the side" was any excuse. :mad:

Anyway, moving on, it was challenging but fun all the way up to that point. My bike is mostly okay, my new aero helmet is not, and au 損保 (sonpo) insurance with be hearing from me on Monday. Stay safe, and hopefully see you on the road again sometime next year!
 
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theBlob

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Sep 28, 2011
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That sucks, I had the same deal with my shoulder a few years back. No surgery for me. Just time, never completely recovered but I only notice it when I try to throw something.
By the way be careful what you say to your insurance company. Any talk of being in a timed event will probably void your coverage.
 

luka

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Anyway, moving on, it was challenging but fun all the way up to that point. My bike is mostly okay, my new aero helmet is not, and au 損保 (sonpo) insurance insurance with be hearing from me on Monday.
Wow, thanks for the write-up. It seems obvious you couldn't have stopped in time no matter what, so doing a Sagan might be the only thing you could have done. But that really sounds awful, esp. with the wheel overlap guy there! Hope you recover without further complications, and that AU coughs up the cash as they should, rather than coming up with excuses like - it was a race and not regular traffic, or whatever. Do keep us updated on your recovery! Bests
 

Tuomas

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My ride was fortunately not as eventful. After the rolling start I was sticking with the fast group until there were a few pileups and I lost touch with them. I spent a good time in no-mans land trying to find a group matching my speed with no luck. After a while I caught the 5hr 30min group and stick with them until the leading group lapped us.

I jumped on the train and was basically 20 meters behind @GrantT when the crash happened. I stick with the fast group without too many issues until I ran out of liquid and pitted.
After resuming I was again stuck with the 5hr 30min group, but even for me they were too slow, so when there was around 45 minutes left, me and maybe 4 other guys broke loose and finished together.

Performance wise, I probably would not have been able to stick with the 5hr group the whole way. The climbing speed was way different and I could definitely start feeling it in my legs.

Overall, it surely was an "experience" - I felt like I would never ever do it again, but then on the train back I was already planning my strategies for the next year... but first need to lose some weight...
 

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Tanki

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Worse than it looks
You don't need an x-ray to see that the head of humerus has migrated south with the birds, that is a massive separation. I hope you have been well taped up, or have a shoulder brace. Early days good joint approximation is essential to the success of conservative rehab.
 
Dec 16, 2012
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Hope you get well soon mate. That does look pretty severe to me. If you need a shoulder brace I've got one of these bad boys from when I dislocated my shoulder back in March, though I suspect that will be of no help whatsoever to your type of injury:

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