I'm trying to keep my head together here while Rondo explains to us that when we see that one tree by that big rock we should take the middle left and then at the other tree by another rock...aye yie yie...
These pictures are poached from the great race report on the LTR website. Thanks Kristi and Mike for capturing this awesome day for me!
As this event was originally scheduled to go off during my week "on" at the hospital, I had put it out of my mind completely. I didn't get word until 24 hours before race day that it had been rescheduled. I certainly had a good excuse to not ride my first race of the year on a course I'd never seen with wind gusts of 60MPH in the forecast. But, as I am perennially haunted by the great Warren Miller noting that, "if you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do," I rallied.
The afternoon before the race I drove out to Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade for the first time ever, introduced myself to Rondo (this would be the original owner of Over the Edge in Fruita who lent his vision and hardwork alongside so many to bring us the glorious Fruita single track- you know, the guy most of us don't hear much out of or much about because he is too busy keeping it real and keeping the focus on the other good people around him to stay in the limelight long).
Rondo and his shop dude, Josh, spent a longtime with me going over the maps and describing all the potential places to get lost as I was pre riding( they missed a few). They also each used the term "demoralizing" several times in describing the final 6 miles both the Sport and Expert classes would ride. Then they wrote phone numbers in the margins of the map to call if I became really lost. Nice.
This shows the Expert Course (it does not have the intertwining loops of singletrack the Sport class rode before climbing up the back of horse mountain, because they are not really mapped...thank god for course marshalls and orange spray paint!)
After I met these guys I knew I could not NOT ride and after I got the "whatever" glance from Rondo when I suggested I might downgrade to Novice class to avoid the "demoralizing" grand finale I knew I had to ride the full 24+ mile Sport Class course. My first ever Sport Class race.
Longstory short- This is a super cool, super hard race - a mountain bike riders mountain bike ride- no glam shots and rock and roll sound tracks - just grit and wet and mud and dust and wind and raw trails traversing the awesome landscape of western Colorado. This race forces the racers to actually go somewhere far away from the startline and, then, come back a couple of hours later.
The roll out down Main Street Palisade- so many miles in so much wind wait just around the corner
There were moments out on the "demoralizing" final climb that the wind was so loud and the landscape so endless, I felt myself slipping into a meditative trance between sensory deprivation and total overload. In fact, I suspect that is largely why I was able to keep turning the pedals even after being blown off - and I do mean off- my bike more than once. I turned em and turned em and beat my goal by almost 10 minutes. Scha-wang.
When it was all over but the drinking, I got a t-shirt, a water bottle, a beer, a free lunch, a new pair Shimano MTB shoes and a DT SWISS wheel bag. That was by far the best $35.00 I've spent in a long, long time.
The folks at Rapid Creek Cycles and their co conspirators deserve a crap ton of accolades for making this event happen. Thanks you guys!
One day soon I will be sneaking out on my own to ride the Expert course so I can dream about what I just may do when I'm a year older...
There are a bunch of good images on the Western Flyer site as well -check it out!