ORAMM: Round Two in 2017



2016 Pre-Race and Smiling

In July of 2016, I completed the Off-Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell–a mountain bike race in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest. I use the word “completed” because I did not have the best of days–finishing last in my age group and (I think) third from last overall. Still, I did manage to beat the cut-off time and suffered only one minor crash–but, those weren’t the race memories I’m used to having.


I had trained pretty hard for the 2016 event, but even with the number of cycling miles I put in, I knew that I could have done a better job in 2016–and, with some tweaks to my training, a better job in 2017.

My first realization was that I needed to better stick to my nutrition/hydration plan. I didn’t do well–it was hot and I did not hydrate well enough to compensate. My one hamstring was cramping and seizing up so badly, there were long stretches in the second half where I just couldn’t pedal without the risk of falling off the bike–I walked uphill a lot. I also didn’t regularly use the Hammer Nutrition supplements that I had been using in training. Finally, I just don’t think I put in quite enough calories during the ride–I finished with leftover gels and bars. My goal is to remedy that in 2017–sticking more strictly to an improved nutrition/hydration plan.



Post-race Not Smiling

My second realization was that the most technical single track trails were not nearly as horrifying as I expected. Sure, there were a couple of downhill sections that I didn’t ride (and still might walk in 2017), but it wasn’t nearly as technically challenging as expected. I do know that I need to get in some practice with tight downhill switchbacks–something I will do in 2017.


Speaking of switchbacks, I also recognized that I need more practice with the tight uphill switchbacks as well. I spent too much time off the bike in 2016 because I couldn’t make some of those turns while climbing.

ride-to-falls-pre-raceGear. My bike (Specialized Stump Jumper) performed well. No complaints with my bike. But, the soles of my shoes delaminated (maybe from all the walking?) just before the main Heartbreak Ridge downhill in the last third of the race. They were my (old) back-up shoes–used mainly because I couldn’t bring myself to drop the cash on a new pair of mountain bike shoes. I ended up zip-tying them (with mixed results) until I encountered a race medic who wrapped them generously with athletic tape. Of course, I’ve invested in a new pair of shoes since then.

Finally, I just need to do a bit more climbing. I did a bit of hill work last year–mostly at Croom on the trails and the paved roads close to Tucker hill–but I don’t feel like it was enough. So, in addition to riding at Croom, a training trip north to the mountains late in the Spring, I plan to get in some training rides in the hilly bits of San Antonio (Florida).

My goal for the 2017 ORAMM is to take (at least) an hour off of my 2016 time. Yes, a whole hour–that just shows how slow I was in 2016 and how much room I have for improvement!


~ by kipwkoelsch on February 1, 2017.

5 Responses to “ORAMM: Round Two in 2017”

  1. Nice job, 2017 will be my first ORAMM with the hopes of finishing.

  2. Having one under my belt definitely helps as I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on those technical down hills. Now, I know what to work on to improve my actual biking and what to focus on with nutrition and hydration. I highly recommend riding some of the course if you can–especially if you don’t ride in that area.

  3. Life got in the way of completing the ORAAM this year. I just didn’t get in enough miles (or elevation change) to improve on last year’s effort. So, I actually downgraded to the shorter event they host the day before (Jerdon Mountain Challenge). It’s about half the other race. With minimal time on the bike, I actually had a very positive ride and an overall fun experience.

  4. Are you “riding” the 2019

    • Not this year. I did Jerdon in 2017 because I didn’t have enough time on my bike. This past September I had shoulder surgery and am still building back all of my fitness. I’d like to get at ORAMM one more time in the future.

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