I finished. Woo hoo! I lined up in Bailey, CO at 6 a.m. on Saturday with 150 of my closest Off-roadie friends for my first mountain bike event ever. My furthest mountain bike training ride to that point had been a 24 mile, 3 hour ride with Andy Brannon from Trips for Kids. Unprepared perhaps? Yes. But I had a game plan: I was going to simply 'survive' the singletrack sections all the while consuming so many calories and salty fluids that I could survive double that distance if I had to.
And it was a good plan. But. Turns out my tummy doesn't like to have oatmeal and coffee shoved into it at 4:30a. It was so unhappy, in fact, that I was 3 hours into the race before I could start drinking normally and eat anything at all. At that point, as they say, the damage had been done. I was already behind the 8 ball and trying desperately to make up my fluid and electrolyte deficit. I will also add that the 40 miles of singletrack in the race comes in the first 53 miles. That means that beginner Tommy was so busy death-gripping his handlebars and trying not to die that he probably wouldn't have eaten much anyway. Okay, that's enough 3rd person blogging for today. So, when I exited the last singletrack section at mile 53, I was already starting to get that 'ghoulish' look when all the hours of evaporated sweat on my skin leaves behind a salty residue that just keeps getting thicker and thicker as the hours pass by. But I was so overjoyed to be able to pedal unencumbered on a road that I carried on. However, about midway up the massive 20 mile climb that starts at mile 70, I began to crack hard. I'll try to give you a visual: we're on a one lane gravel road that climbs and climbs and climbs all the while surrounded by burnt out trees (there was a massive fire in the area a few years ago) without a cloud in the sky. Hot, dusty, exposed, searing are a few adjectives that come to mind. At one point I found an evergreen tree that produced a minimal amount of shade and planted myself beneath it for 5-10' while I watched racers go by and tried to force electrolyte drink down my gullet. Okay, get back on the horse - I knew I had 2-3 hours ahead of me still so I might as well get it over with. For the next hour or so I continued to struggle while climbing on and taking a drink every time I felt that my stomach could keep it down. At about 15 miles to go, my body started to rally a little, going from completely worthless to mostly worthless but the improvement was much appreciated.
I finished with little ado but not before the organizer played a nasty trick on us and made us do a 15% hidden gravel track climb just before the finish. Grrrr. I would hate to have gotten an audio recording of the filth that came out of my mouth during that little climb!
So, Frank Overton from FasCat Coaching let me borrow his Garmin Edge 500 for the race so I have an elevation profile and route from the race. I started the Garmin about a half mile late but made up for it by going off course for about the same distance (if you look closely at the map, you can see where I took a right at around mi 38 and then flipped it when I figured out I was off course).
Here's the Garmin info.
Post Race thoughts:
That was the longest (by time) ride of my life at 8:11.
46 psi tire pressure is too high for a mountain bike race.
I had about 2000 calories of food still in my pockets at the finish (bad sign).
I don't know that I've ever been beaten by over 90' in a race before (JHK in 6:37)
Mountain biking is hard. Oh, and I think I finished 25th. And when I start to feel sorry for myself, I think about my friend Sarai who had the determination to still finish 13 hours after starting! Wow, that's a long day. Good job Sarai.
THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to our fundraising efforts. I haven't gotten a final tally but I've heard I was in the running for the highest fundraiser in the whole race! Also, a thank you to all of the volunteers and course marshals for the race. Everyone was so helpful and smiley that it made that death march a little more tolerable.
100 mile mountain bike race: check.