One year ago I did my first long distance MTB race called the BT-Epic. I showed up with a little fitness and perfect trail conditions on my SS 29er. I rode good last year finishing 17th with a time 0f 5:34....
Now fast forward 365 days.....(fast forward noise goes here)
I came to the race this year with a few more long distance races under my belt. But with my last long ride being over 2 months ago I really had no fitness for this. Not to mention the 2 or 3 inches of rain that had fallen in days prior. Because of these facts I thought it would be a good idea to ride my geared bike(options).
Since I knew I had no fitness, and because I missed the Burning this year, and because they had amazing FREEEEEEEEEEE Pale ale on tap, I decided to focus on fun. I had a few beers Saturday night and probably stayed up too late. When I awoke the next morning and walked down to my car to get a few things, several people cheered me on as if they could believe I was going to go out for this race. I was asked if I was still planning to race. Of course I was planning to race.... well ride the race anyway. I really didn't feel that bad from the beer the night before. Wasn't that big of a deal, just thought it was funny. Anyway...
When the race finally got going I found my self in the top 20 maybe going over the trailer across the river. I climbed the first fire road with a modest tempo and made a small effort to latch onto a couple wheels in front of me but didn't really have the legs to do so, nore did I really care. Several more riders passed me before I finally hit the single track 3 miles into the race.
After I entered the woods I hit my water bottle a couple times and just tried to relax. I knew it was going to be a long day and just wanted to ride. Several more riders passed me but I did not really care, I was just hear to have a good time.
The trails were very wet. Some trails were super muddy while others were small rivers. There were trails that were perfectly flat and I still was barely able to go 5 mph. Thick mud followed by lots of splashing which actually helped clean my bike off. The sections of the race that were like this actually helped take my mind off the race itself. You had to put all focus on the trail you were riding when it was like this and for a brief moment...... you only thought about the trail, not your time. Even with this, there were still sections of the trail that you could just bomb down and shred like 80's metal. Fast and flowy. Rocks and roots. TECH!
About the half way point I got my first flat. I had to sit on the side of the trail for about 7 or 8 minutes until someone finally stopped to help me. I couldn't get the tubeless valve out of the rim. After that was fixed and was rolling again, it started to rain. Obviously the rain was not helping the trails and also did not help me. It took a lot of the wind out of my sails. Even though I was already wet and muddy, I didn't really want to get rained on.
By this point on the race my bike was making terrible noises. I almost starting aiming for the deep water wholes with the hope of my bike getting some of the mud blasted off it. Sometimes it worked, other times it seemed to make it worse. Carry on...
I had past back about 10 people that passed during my first flat earlier and only had about 10 miles to go when I noticed my rear tire was going soft again. I stopped to check it. The tire was soft which meant a slow leak. I checked my computer and saw that I only had about 10 miles left with 7 of those being fire road. Since I only had about 3 miles of single track left I figured and could air the tire up and make it to the fire road before re-evaluating the situation. I hit the tire with a shot of CO2 and rode pretty hard to the road. It took my about15 minutes to get there, and when I did the tire had gone nearly flat again. Hmmm... I had 3 or 4 CO2's left, 2 tubes, 7 miles of fire road, and a slow leak. I could air my tire up twice with each CO2, so I sat there for a sec and did the math. I figured I had about 30 to 4o minutes worth of air to ride on before I was up shit creek.
I hit the tire and took off. I made it about 10 minutes before the tire was soft again. Uh ohh.. I hit it again and took off. I rode about another 8 or 9 before I was hitting rim on the rocks in the road. Shit... I was now down to 2 CO2's and about 3 1/2 miles of road. I hit it again and went as hard as I could. I think this time it only lasted about 5 minutes. It was pretty clear that my slow leak had turned into a full on flat. I had 1 1/2 CO2's left. Hit it, ride... Hit it, ride..... Hit it, ride..... out of air.
At this point in the race I could smell the finish line. Didn't care about my slow time. I didn't care about my mistake of NOT putting a tube in it when I had the chance. I was near the finish and that was my only goal... FINISH. I had about 2 miles to go so I just rode the flat tire. I was standing up the entire time making an attempt to save the wheel from damage on the rock road. I didn't make it too far before the tire finally came off the rim. I stopped and put it back on so I could keep riding. I only made it about 30 feet before the tire came off again. I figured at this point, with only a little over one mile to go, I would just walk. I started to run at one point but it seemed pointless. I had been passed by several riders on the last few miles of fire road so I wasn't to worried about running to the finish.
When I finally got there it had been 6 hour and 48 minutes since the race had started and in 64th place out of about 120. The winners had finished over 2 hours before I arrived. I was so glad to be done... My bike was wasted and needs some TLC before she rolls again.
I had a ton of fun down there this weekend and cant wait for next year. I can assure you that I will be better prepared next time.
2009 MTB season....DONE!
Dirty Kanza Plan
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