The morning came, breakfast was consumed, chamois were buttered, and I made it to the race site with enough time to sign in, do a once over of the bike, and get to the start (who needs to warm up for a 71 mile mtb race?). The pros and singlespeeders were called to the line, and I took a spot on the outside behind Mr. 24, and next to Sonya. The gun went off, and with that the mad dash up the gravel road to the singletrack was underway. I made it to the singletrack in a reasonable position, and then managed to move up a couple places. The first portion of singletrack was still nice and sticky do the previous nights rain, but not slippery. From here, the course was a long section of dirt roads, which included a stretch with a gradual descent that will make any singlespeeder shake their fist. During this stretch Dave Wilson and I let a bunch of geared folk go storming by, joking about how we thought they would blow themselves up by the third hour of the race. The course would alternate between exposed dirt roads and tight technical singletrack. One highlight was when four of us singlespeeders got the singletrack behind a row of geared folks, then proceded to pass and drop them like flys once the gradient increased. On top of that there was singletrack that cut through cow pastures just like on the Rapelje course. While I heard other people bitch about this, I could only smile knowing that while the trail might be rough, at least we didn’t have to ride it for 24 hours.
By the time I made it to the third aid station I was sitting in second place, and saw another singlespeeder pull up right as I was leaving. The next section of course included a stair step style climb, a terrible headwind, waist deep water crossings, and several people making wrong turns. As I passed through the fourth aid station, me and the other singlespeeder were riding side by side. In between the fourth and fifth aid station I felt like I was losing a bit on my power on the climbs, I lost a water bottle full of Gatorade, got both my front wheel and my left leg stuck in a mud/cow shit bog, and my stomach started to disagree with me. I kept moving forward hoping not to be losing too much time to whoever was chasing me in fourth. As I pulled closer and closer to the fifth aid station, my stomach told me that it had had enough, resulting in a pit stop on the side of the trail. I got back on the bike and with eight miles to go, Dave Wilson came by full of pep, fulfilling his goal to “finish strong”. The last eight miles included a brutally steep singletrack climb, followed by a technical descent. I lost one more place on the climb, and wound up finishing 5th in the singlespeed, and had to throw down a final sprinit to hang onto 24th place overall.
Turns out third, fourth, and fifth place were only separated by about three minutes, which is pretty impressive for a nearly six hour effort. At the end, the family was there to congratulate me, and offer words of support. The post race spread the organizers put together almost made me cry, pizza, cookies, chips, fruit, pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, and beer filled up the belly. I took some time to chat with fellow racers, before heading out early to spend some time with the family. Family time was delightful, yet too short, and with the morning I was forced back onto the road for the drive home.
Pros and Singlespeeders at the start, I look like I'm praying, which in my mind counts as going to church
At only one second into the race, I accept the pain I will be enduring for the next six hours
Being forced to spring by some a-hole with gears
That guy had nothing on me