Hey! How’s it going? Me, life in the last three weeks has been about biking. Thinking about biking, being on a bike, and worrying about the 40 miler on a bike. That’s what life has been like for me.
Thursday/13th – I wanted to feel like the elite riders so I decided to bail on Eau Claire and get up to my parents place in Hayward on Thursday. I Arrived at 9:15 pm just in time to eat a big steak, some potatoes, and enjoy a beer with my dad. That steak and beer would end up helping me grind it out on Saturday, for sure!
Friday/14th – Awoke to a hearty breakfast and a cup of coffee. Met up with a buddy of mine, Aaron Halberg at Angry Minnow for some lunch and pre race talk. And as always, when you are in Hayward you have to stop at the local bike shops. The atmosphere around the Chequamegon race creates excitement, energy, and some anxiety. In the p.m. my mom and I rode up to Telemark to pick up my number, grab as many stickers as possible from the vendors, and see how many elite riders I could rub shoulders with. I left feeling anxious and ready for the race.
Saturday/15th – Woke at 6:30 am to temps that were colder than last years Birkie. I new from the minute I stepped out that I needed all the warm clothes I could get.
By 6:45 am I was in the start corral hoping to get a good spot for a good start to the race….NOT happening this year. Rumor had it that riders were parking their bikes at 5:00 in the morning. After getting my spot at the start I ventured back to my parents place for breakfast…knowing that with my position I would have my work cut out for me.
10:00 am the cannon goes off and game is on. Slow roll out thru town until we hit Highway 77 where the pace took off and we were pedaling towards Rosie’s Field at 24 mph. Guys around me huffing and puffing and I knew that I had to hit the Birkie trail ahead of these riders who were on the verge of blowing up just 4 miles into the race.
Over the climbs and around the riders I slowly picked my way through the field. I was able to find a rider here and there who set a descent pace but it didn’t take too long before I was thinking to myself that the pace was too slow and I need to push it more.
Throughout the day I kept dialing it up a notch, dialing it up again, and dialing it up yet again. The more I pushed the better I felt. And so by the time I crested Firetower I new it was my day and my race…I just needed to stay out of mechanical problems during the final 10 miles.
I really never found a group of riders to ride with during the race. Which sometimes makes for hard racing. Occasionally throughout the race I would catch a sponsored rider, draft them for a bit, and then peel off, attack and drop them.
I would glance at my watch now and then but had no real idea of the pace that I was riding at. It felt face but because I was feeling strong and not winded I thought maybe it was a slower pace. Coming off the last Birkie trail section I decided to hammer it down, gap some of the riders ahead of me, and see just how many I can take down before the finish line arrives.
In the end I had one shifting mistake required getting off my bike, peeling out my major chain suck and jumping back on which come to think about it, I think I was able to all that in one simple motion…weird.
So another Fat Tire race is in the books. I bettered my time by 7 minutes and gained over 40 places from last years. Plus I took 25th in my age out of 104. I’m very pleased with my performance and feel the hard work payed off. I also felt like I was getting closer to the best. In fact I was only 11 minutes behind Doug Swanson, two time Fat Tire Champion (he did have a bad race though). But probably the best part of the whole race is that I beat three time Tour De France Champion Greg Lamond. Now to be able to say that sounds pretty cool. The winner, Jesse Lalonde, came out of my age group and won the race on a single speed…never done before!
I’ve read a lot of the blogs by the professional riders and this is the part where they thank their sponsors and those who gave them money so that they can ride. So even though I’m no elite rider…yet…I must thank Nikole, Mom and Dad, the Ginder family, Felt racing (even though I bought my bike from ebay) Shimano (even though I bought your parts for my bike…on ebay), GU (even though I bought your product), Gatorade (even though…well you know what I’m going to say by now), but thanks for all your support and encouragement. Looking forward to the snow season!
Mountain Bike For Life,