Wow. Did that really happen? Somebody pinch me.
Time is tight, so the abbreviated version will have to suffice. Cutting to the chase: I overcame many problems during the race, came on strong at the end, and won in nail-biting fashion of the same ilk as the 3rd place Moab finish last year. Competition was deep with 50+ solo men at the start line.
Doubling the sweet factor was Lynda's ride. She rode to her potential yesterday (maybe??) and finished 4th solo overall with an astounding 13 laps. Her 13th lap was the fastest of any solo rider (there were 4 to complete 13, 1 to complete 14, ahem!).
Lynda told me before the start she was going to shadow me on the run. I had planned to hit it hard enough to be near the front to avoid bottlenecks. It turned out to be alot easier than either of us expected and we both slowed a bit towards the middle of the run - no need to be greedy and take the hole shot, eh? We entered the singletrack in the 3rd and 4th positions. Lynda was so psyched to be out of the way of traffic, "how was that Dave?!" That was the last I saw of her until about lap 12...
The opening singletrack near the start finish:
I had a look at the (long!) start list before the event. I recognized 3 names in there that I knew were very strong. One of them, Josh Tostado, had a golden year in '05. He came out on top at every endurance event he entered and set a course record at Montezuma. It was going to be a challenging day.
Lap 1 started well enough, but became hellish. I about nailed a runner around a hidden in the trail and got a fine "feck you" in return. Ah yes, Park City's love/hate relationship with mountain bikers. That fella ain't gonna be happy when NORBA rolls into town. Shortly thereafter, I was JRA when some guy is yelling at me telling me I shortcut the course...then a couple others chimed in. It turned out the course was a little different in one section from last year, and I was on last years course rails. Crap. So I had to turn around, watch the leaders ride off, and go find that corner I missed. I just kept telling myself that 12 hours is a long time so don't sweat it & did my best to shake it off. Rather than tear off after them and try to regain contact, I chose to settle into my own pace.
All the while, my legs didn't feel good at all. With Steamboat 2 weeks ago, and an overly aggressive training plan between then and now, I was feeling the effects. Then on lap 4, my right hip joint began to provide the sharpest pain imaginable. Simply finishing was in question at that point. During this time, I was riding with Thane Wright, one of the 3 on my radar screen, and he was riding amazingly strong. At one point, he yelled "c'mon Dave, let's work together!", to which I told him he was on his own. I watched him ride off...and began pounding vitamin I in the next pit.
The next several hours were JRA. Crusing along, biding my time, waiting for the vitamin I to do it's thing, and saving some juice for a late race charge. It was my only hope.
Anna ran the pit to precision. I told her before the race what the plan was, and also that the leader may get as much as 20 minutes on me my by lap 9. If he could hold, he deserved the win. But I was betting he wouldn't, whoever he turned out to be. I did this race last year and recall how hard the final 5 hours are...and he who has upwards momentum in the final hours had the upper hand. At the lap 9 pit, Anna yelled at me, jolting my lumbering buttocks into action: "Harris, Josh is 14 minutes ahead of you. Get your a$$ moving!!!" Anna being the soft spoken gal she is, she's never spoken to me like that. I left the pits covered in goose bumps.
The next time through I had gained 2 minutes, cutting the lead to 12 minutes. I'd also moved into 2nd - the last I heard I was in 4th. These chase laps were going beautifully, the energy was tip-top, the legs feeling great, and the flow was with me. There were a few places I had to brake on climbs. The next pit I cut the lead to 9 minutes, then 4 minutes heading out on the lucky 13th. 4 minutes...I could do it. Problem was, I had to pee so bad...it took 50 seconds. Finally, near the top of the final climb, there's Josh, about 20 seconds up the trail around a switchback. He recognized me and dug deep, giving it everything. It was apparent I wasn't going to catch him as he held onto his 20 second advantage, and let me tell ya I considered the foolishness of my 50 second pee stop...Greg always says if you're in that situation ya gotta pee your chammy. Well Greg, I did try...you'll understand when you're over 40.
Coming into the s/f for the 13th lap, I was immensely satisfied with my effort, even if I fell 20 seconds short of the win. The big question was, what time was it? Was I going to make the cuttoff for a 14th lap? I asked the timing crew, and Emma, Boris' daughter, said "you have time for another lap Dave, you can do it!" I'll be damned. The fat lady ain't sung her final note yet.
Anna rushed me out of the pits, second bike all set up with fluids and such, and it was game time. I hit the first climb hard and gave it everything that was left. I was cracking by now and as worked as could be - but I left the pits before Josh did and had the lead. I didn't want him to get a visual on me on that first climb - if I was out of sight, I'd be nothing but a ghost...on the long descent on the backside, I caught Lynda. She was riding like she had been since lap 5...ticking off 57 min laps like clockwork. She was so strong on the climbs, I couldn't hang with her at the end of the race. Can you say impressed?
I finished up that lap, totally spent, breathing hard, elated by the effort and the result. One of the hardest earned wins I can recall, especially given the additional issues to work through - made it all the sweeter. Mandatory bike carry! To my surprise, Jason Sager made an appearance to see the finale too. It was great to see him...and he saw a side of me that only comes out (thankfully) about once every year or so, but there's usually alcohol involved.
My girly stick arms could get the bike up to my helmet, no higher ;) Worked!
I later learned Josh never went out for a 14th lap. Stories differ as to why, but it didn't much matter while I was out there on #14. It felt like the grim reaper was on my tail. Epic.
By rides end I had racked up something over 18,000 feet of climbing, 140 miles, finishing 1st overall solo and 5th overall (including teams). I finished on the same lap as the winning team (which if I'm reading the results correctly was a coed duo team - Chris and his wife from Mad Dog Cycles - they were both wicked fast and on 29ers!), about 25 minutes back. Not a bad day's ride.
Today is another story. That bum hip? Frozen up tight as a drum, you can call me the gimp.
Other highlights were meeting a lot of folks who know me (I think?) through this blog. It was a pleasure to meet ya, and if you gave a shout out thanks so much. Boris, your events are just first class. Thanks for making it happen and I really look forward to your next event.
Lynda & I have allowed ourself to daydream a time or two about how cool a it'd be if we both won at the same event. I'm thinking this bodes well for TransRockies. It's a dream no longer.