|Still wear them all, 2005 edition is my sleep shirt.|
I have been doing this race since its inception and it just keeps getting better. Back in 2005, it ran January through May, it was run in reverse, the entry fee was $50, and I won $45 for first. I remember saying to the promoter that the race was so much fun that I would do it if the entry fee was doubled. Fast forward to yesterday, and I am gunning for $750 and a shot at the bounty. My, how times have changed. With 5500 feet of climbing and 34 miles of rocks and roots, it is always an epic battle between the racer and the trail.
Speaking of times, I will have to chalk up yesterday's race as a good SS training ride. With the many challenges I had to overcome, it was not going to be a PR. First up was the week of training leading up to the race. I am currently in a strength phase with multiple days in the gym. Coach said I was going to carry some fatigue into this race. On that first fire road climb, I indeed felt it! Darn it! Coach was right again.
Secondly, our plan to do a private shuttle in order to get off the line first failed when the people we were going to shuttle with got pulled over by GHP en route to the race. I probably started behind 100 people. I do like carrots, but that was a bit many for me to digest. Single speed realization #43: it is excruciatingly painful and detrimental to overall performance to have to pass 40+ people, most of which took place going uphill. That was like a serious Force Rep training session. Most everyone was super nice about being passed, though.
Thirdly, nothing like crashing your brains out on the first mile of the race! Yep, I bit it hard on the gravel road section. I was attempting to pass another rider. What I thought was just branches from a young sapling turned out to be a murderous grapevine, that wrapped around my Ergon GR2 Leichtbau carbon bar end. The bike stopped ... I didn't. Luckily, it all happened so fast, I didn't have a chance to put an arm down and break my collarbone. But my whole left side took a digger at 15 mph. It took a couple minutes for me to regain my senses and realign my handlebars.
The first 17 miles hurt the most. I was about 10-12 minutes off my PR pace. I think the climbing, especially on a single speed, is much harder than the second 17. I also had to run more sections as there was a constant line of people ahead. I do believe there were a record number of racers for January. My guess: 250+.
The second half was much more enjoyable, although I still entered the pain cave numerous times. My legs had finally come around and my 32 x 22 felt like a 32 x 22, not a 32 x 20 like the first half. I always love the final rocky ridge; it is at this point that I can "smell the barn" and am usually able to dig a little deeper.
What made it even better was a little motivation by a fellow racer. He allowed me to pass him, but as I was doing so he said, "I will probably need to get back around you, but no worries," ... Did he just say what I thought he said?!? You think? O.k. let's see what you got! I kicked it up a notch and entered the first techy rocky descent. I will have to give him some credit, he did hang on longer than I thought he would. But after 5 minutes, all was quiet behind me.
With about 4 miles to go, I saw a fellow racer down on the trail, quite a ways in front of me. As I made my way towards him, he still was not getting up. Oh, no! I was thinking that he might be seriously hurt and I was going to have to abandon my race to help him. As I came upon him, he was still lying there. I asked if he was hurt. He said, "No, I just can't unclip from the pedals." So we had a little trail side lesson. He was trying to turn his heel inward to unclip. I don't know if he was a beginner or maybe being upside down got him turned around, but I told him to move his heel outward. Once he did that, he magically popped free. I then made an attempt to lift his bike off him. I swear to God that bike weighed 30 pounds. I then realized that it was a Specialized HardRock! Hats off to this gentleman who probably had the heaviest bike in the race. He was hardcore! He did look like he was spent. I encouraged him that we were almost there ... he probably hit 45 mph on the road descent.
I finished with a 3:42:27. I will happily take it. My post-ride recovery meal was Ginni's famous cookies. I would have loved to hang around as the post-ride chatter is always great, but with 33 degree temps and a wind chill of 25, I was cold as soon as I stopped pedaling. Once again, thanks to all the volunteers for braving those brutal temperatures to keep us racers fueled, on the course, and motivated.
Looking forward to February and getting closer to the Bounty!