Post race dirt lines
Katie and I left Mpls early Thursday morning headed to Marquette. The 7+ hour drive went as good as could be expected. The i-Pod was kicking out the tunes and Katie and I took turns piloting the Jeep. We arrived to our posh Country Inn suit around 6pm MI time, unloaded our gear and relaxed for a bit before heading to Borders Grill for some quality Mexican food.
Friday morning was spent setting up the Salsa tent for the expo during registration and having coffee with the some St. Cloud friends who were also in town for the race. In the afternoon Katie, Schroden and I went for a little ride around town to stretch our legs out for Saturday’s race. After the race Katie and I had some great Thai food for dinner and headed to race registration.
Registration is always interesting, for 3 hours we stood around the Salsa tent and talked to all sorts of people about Salsa Cycles; the bikes, the jersey’s, racing, riding and countless other bike and non-bike related topics. For the most part, these conversations are a lot of fun, but at times some people can be very trying. When registration was over and the tent was tore down we went back to the hotel and I started getting my gear ready for the race.
Saturday (Race Day)
At 5:50am my alarm went off, I brushed my teeth and walked across the highway to Perkins and met Schroden for breakfast. When I returned from breakfast I gathered my gear, my bike and loaded everything into Schroden’s truck and headed to the starting line of the race. Mike and I took our time getting ready for the race. We had plenty of time to warm so we rode around the town for about 45min before we headed to the Start Line.
This year was the first year I got a preferred start at the race. Being able to ride right to the front of the field to line my bike up was a huge convenience and it made getting ready for the race much easier.
At 9:45 there was a very unofficial “ready, set GO!” and the race was on. The race started on with a about a 1-2 roll out on the road. On my single speed the pace was really fast and hard to keep up with. Once we turned off the road the race really started. For me, the first 10 miles of the course is really tough. There are number of rolling hills with a lot of traffic on them so it makes it tough to pick a line up each hill. Plus the pace is really fast because all the riders want to get out in front as quick as possible. On the top of one hill I heard someone yelling out the number of riders passing by. I was somewhere in the 60’s, this was not surprising. I would have liked to be further up in the field, but there was a lot of race left.
Finally the field started thinning out and I was able to settle into a good pace pass some riders. The course was very sandy and proved to be very difficult for some riders. My 29er was rolling through the sand quite nicely and I was really confident in the sand pits. Maybe too confident, somewhere around 20 miles into the course I was flying down a hill with a very sandy bottom. When I tried navigating the turn my front wheel washed out and I slammed hard, tangling myself up in my bike and hitting my face on the ground. I was able to hop right off the ground and get back on my bike but I was definitely shaken up, my head hurt and my knee was stiff and it felt like my hand took a good blow as well.
It must have taken my some time to start feeling better after the crash. I rode by myself for a bit and then a group of riders passed me. There was one single speeder in the group, when I saw him I realized my pace had slowed down and I need to start picking up the pace. It wasn’t long before I was back on track and riding hard again. Eventually, I came to a hilly road section where I was able to ride with some geared riders. I was able to draft them on climbs and then did all that I could to stay with them on the downhill. I was very lucky to have been able to draft some other riders on this stretch. If I had to ride the road section on my own I would’ve never been able to carry the speeds I did riding with the group. At this point I was about 30 miles into the race and feeling strong.
For the next 10 miles or so I kept up a good cadence and then with about 8 miles left the terrain got hilly again, there are wood chips on the course and it seemed like my speed cut in half. The only thing that kept my spirits up was the fact the race was going to be over soon. I got off my bike a couple times to jog up some of the hills. I thought running would be easier than muscling up the hills and I was worried I may cramp up if I started pedaling too hard.
With about 2 miles left the course widens and there is a path with more wood chips. This part is really painful, push as hard as I, can knowing I have less than 10 minuets left, and as soon as I am off the wood chips it is open road. As soon as I hit the road I could feel the cramps in my legs firing. I looked over my shoulder and saw there were no riders chasing me down. All I had to do now was pedal hard as fast as I could with out cramping up.
When I crossed the finish line I checked my time, 2:57:59. The time was 4 minutes slower than last year and 7 minutes off my goal of 2 hours and 50 minutes. I was happy to have finished. I felt like I rode a good race but didn’t know where I finished in the field. After cooling down I check my results and saw I was once again the 1st single speed across the line, and the 30 rider out of 518 (17 spots better than I did last year).
Schroden and I after the race. Mike was 2nd in his age group. Nice work!
Needless to say, I am stoked about how the race went. There was not a lot of exciting stuff that happened after the race. I ate, went to the awards ceremony, ate again, went to bed, ate again, drove home, ate again, and now I am going to bed again.
Well tomorrow it is back to work. I cant wait to get on my geared bike and take a nice leisure ride to work.