I’m covered in hammer gel. I threw my wool shirt, knee warmers, and gel flask into my drop bag at the first aid station today. Apparently I forgot to close the flask. It squirted all over everything. Now my fingers are covered in the stickiest substance in the galaxy. It sucks.
I drove from Pittsburgh to Colorado a little over two weeks ago. Acclimating hasn’t been much of an issue, but I wasn’t ready for the cold in Breckinridge. It was 90 and humid when I left PA, and for the two weeks I was in Boulder, I didn’t leave my friend’s apartment to ride until after lunch. When I poked my head out of my sleeping bag this morning it was 40 degrees.
Shivering, I decided to start the race with a long-sleeve wool shirt and some knee warmers. Half way up the first road climb I realized that I’d made a bad choice. The sun popped over the mountains, and I was roasting.
The police suv pulled off the road to end the not so neutral roll out. Slowly the pack began to split apart. I passed a few people that were wheezing like a walrus in heat.
When we hit the first trail, I was surprised by the rocks. Light bulb sized chunks of gravel were scattered around the course. The climb wasn’t as technical as the glacial deposits on my home trails, but it was so much longer. With rocks rolling around under my tires it was too much. I stumbled off my single speed and hiked.
I was walking behind Dejay Birch and Evan Plews up the mountain. The grade mellowed enough that we could ride our bikes for a few feet. At some point while I was trying to hike next to my bike two other single speeds passed me.
On the fire road to the aid station I tucked down trying to get as much speed out of the hill as I could. When I skidded into the station, I hopped around and tried to rip off my knee warmers. I finally got the grippy elastic over my shoe, and pulled my wool shirt over my face. After some furious tugging I got the thing over my helmet, and threw it in my drop bag.
There were more loose rocky hikes and more loose rocky descents. I loved blasting down the hills, but going back up them was bad. I could only ride my bike about a half of the time, and I was going so slow that I was almost track-standing.
At the second aid Garth Prosser blew by me. For the next ten miles I would pass him on the chunky descents, and he’d spin away on the climbs back up. We passed a decrepit snowmobile then a chrome bumper.
“Now how do you think somebody drove their car all the way up here, and then lost the bumper?” Garth pondered aloud. I grunted in response. My brain didn’t have the oxygen to formulate a witty reply
We ripped down a smooth sandy fire road, and then started a gentle climb. Garth pedaled away. At the top of the climb I could see the multicolored houses in Breckinridge. The last section of single track was awesome. It twisted in and out of the pines. Turns were banked and I ripped down the hill. The suffering from earlier in the day was erased.
I rolled through the finish line in Carter Park and dug into the bucket of watermelon.