The weeks leading up to the Fat Tire were not how I would have scripted it. Two weeks ago I was battling the same cold that Ayden had to battle first. Then last Thursday I had a bout with an allergy attack. I was feeling fatigued and I was mentally playing tricks on how I was really physically feeling.
Thursday evening Ayden and I loaded up the car and drove north to my parents place. When we left EC it was 56 degrees and when we pulled up to my parents place on the lake it was 44 degrees. That was the first reminder that it was go time, ready or not.
Friday was a very relaxing day. Grandma watched Ayden so that I could get out and meet up with O’Meara for a pre-ride. it was exactly what I needed to shake the funk that I was in and to start feeling ready for Sat. The legs felt good and the tires (Bontrager XR1 / Stan’s NoTube Raven) were a good choice. We registered after the ride and then met up with Nikole at the lake for some pasta and family time.
4:30 a.m. came early. If you get a preferred start you don’t have to worry about 4:30. I’m not a preferred starter (yet) so I had to be at the start line at 4:30 A.M. just so I could get a good spot to start the race. Well, I ended up with a front row start. And even though it was butt early, it made all the hassle to get there worth it.
3 bikes to the left from the center line...that's what 4:30 am means
The start was fairly mellow and intense at the same time. By the time the cannon smoke cleared I was up and mixed in with the preferred riders. Things went smoothly down 77 and by the time we hit Rosie’s Field I was still hanging on with the lead riders (I mean top 100 riders).
The race was fast, wet, muddy, dry, slow, easy, painful, upsetting, and exciting all at once. I rode with a group of riders for the most part who were exchanging pulls, sometimes working together but always losing and adding riders throughout.
Eyeing up the H2O exchange with the wife...
The muddy/wet part that I was talking about
I didn’t feel like I was conserving anything and I really didn’t know how the race was going (time/place). I kept plugging away and pushing the envelope. The group I was in blew up on Fire Tower and as I crested the top I was alone and felling the cramping pings coming on.
I wanted to be strong on the last Birkie section. Instead of getting caught, like in previous years, I wanted to do the catching. I was able to catch, drop, and latch on to a couple of riders. Coming off of the Birkie section I knew the hardest part was done and now was the time to pin it a bit.
I dropped some more riders on Telemark road and after the last climb there was only one rider about 15 seconds in front of me. By the time I came into the bowl at the finish I had narrowed the gap to about 5 seconds and was able to sneak by him by the time we hit the finish line. Hey you never know, that rider could be the difference between being able to say top 200 or top 150. Just sayin…
You know my story when it comes to racing. If you can’t be the fastest you should at least try to look fast. Well, I will set my humility aside for a second and say that I was fast on Saturday. My time was 4 minutes slower but I placed a very respectable 112 th. I enjoy telling stories from the middle of the race pack but on Saturday that is not the case…this is the story from someone a bit further up.
I enjoyed the race for about 30 minutes. After that I started to think about the places where I could have gone faster, what I can do for next year to go faster, and I started to think, if only I could have gone faster. So is the life of racing. I can’t hide the competitive nature that is a part of me.
But helping to keep it in perspective are these two…
Maybe a future biker...