BaseCamp alumnus T.J. Morton shared his experience at the 2022 Crusher in the Tushar in Utah.
I had a great day on the bike at the 2022 Crusher in the Tushar. For those that don’t know about this event, it’s a 69-mile race with ~10,000 feet of climbing, about 55% of which is on dirt/sand/washboard.
I hit all the nutrition guidance Coach Namrita Brooke provided in my pre-race brief. I went with one bottle of EFS and one of Roctane in addition to eating one fig bar every half hour and a couple of Gu gels thrown in to get me to Aid#2. I refilled both bottles with EFS and filled my hydration pack with plain water. I stopped again at Aid#4 for refills on EFS and water and ate some bananas and watermelon. In addition, the kind folks poured a pitcher of cold water over my head and down my back before the hot, god forsaken climb up Col de Crush! I filled one bottle with plain water at the final aid station for the hour push to the finish. I averaged about 83 g of carbs per hour.
I went out with 85 others in the 50-59 male category at a pretty conservative pace. We had about 15 minutes of easy pace that had me right in the middle of AE. Then the pace ratcheted up a bit and the climbing started. I stayed with the group until we turned on to the dirt (I did almost cause a crash when I rubbed tires with the guy in front of me - I was almost the noob everyone fears in a peloton). Once on the dirt, I settled into my own pace trying to stay in low tempo. Some sections were steep enough that I went close to threshold for bits. After Aid#2, the slope turns downhill, and I just wanted to go fast. I averaged a little over 30 mph on the way down, and maybe rattled some teeth loose on the washboards. But I passed a lot of people! Once on the fast pavement, I began to pick up folks. We had a nice pace line of about 15 for the flat pavement and averaged about 22 mph. I got isolated for this section last year. I stayed with them until the dirt/sand/hot (nicknamed Pit of Sarlacc) section into Aid#4. After some refreshments, it was time for the fun. I’m guessing that last year, I made it a mile up Col de Crush before adductor and hamstring cramps started (only about 1/4 of the way). But this year, I managed to keep a pretty steady pace up the climb. I skipped the intermediate aid station, but they did stuff a couple of ice packs down the back of my jersey as I rode by. It helped that I knew what was coming as I was able to count down switchbacks and know where the top was. I had to tell myself once or twice to just keep pedaling. Made it to the top (1:39 last year, 1:03 this year for the KOM climb) and found some folks to pace with to the last aid station. There is still a fair amount of climbing left afterward, but I just kept trying to find someone in front of me to shoot for. I caught one guy on the last short descent before heading up to the finish, but he was definitely a stronger climber than I was (at least 6 hours into the race day anyway). Once the punchy climb to the finish began, I just went with what I had left, which was still more than I expected. In the end, I PR’ed every Strava segment on the race (granted, there are only two attempts for me) and finished 1:13 faster than last year. I was very happy with the result and my effort!
Two seasons of BaseCamp have me prepared more for so many aspects of racing, going harder than I want yo to stay with a pack and knowing I can recover, nutrition, all of it! Coach Namrita has me fit -- even if I did slack on a couple of long rides. The whole training thing feels like it’s coming together! And while I’m a little sad to not be part of the RPI BaseCamp family this summer, I’m pretty excited to hit the Queen’s Stage Race at the top of my game!!!