Trevor and I got back to my house around 10:15 Thursday night and I threw my clothes/gear into the cooper for the rest of the weekend. I wanted to be able to leave asap after work. It was a struggle, but I managed to get the Mamasita, 585 and all the rest of my gear INSIDE the car. It was worth the effor though as I was able to obtain 29-30 mpg despite driving as fast as I could to Barneveld. Took the "southern route" this time down through Decorah, Prairie du chien etc. and was rewarded with some nice terrain and beautiful views until the sun went down just past Prairie.
Upon arrival at Scott's place (thanks for the hospitality- really nice to have a bed and a hot shower! Felt just like home, other than your dog wanting to kill me. I'm grateful) the plan was to run out for some food and, maybe, a beer or two. Scott recommended the Hooterville Inn, located just down the road in Blue Mounds. Wow! Great food, great beer and even great company (turns out the organizers were having their post set-up/pre-race meeting there as well. Friday night fish fry and a beer was followed by a perfect mushroom swiss burger and 3? more beers. Good times. Maybe we need to do more exploring, but it just doesn't seem that there are many little places like that on this side of the River. I don't think it's a stretch to say that the Hooterville Inn has better food and beer than any place in Rochester, that's for sure! It was nice to catch up with Scott and talk to the rest of the crew as well. I also found out that I wouldn't have to pay separately for the SS State Championship race and the 3 hr- mega bonus, and seemed somewhat fair given the circumstances (little did I know just what those circumstances would be at that point).
Saturday am dawned cold, wet, and cloudy with weather reports suggesting it would only get worse. There was some talk of delaying the race, but in the end they just delayed the 12 hr race 2 hrs and our race 15 minutes. Small, but strong field present for the SS race. We agreed to ride 3 laps. I had some trouble early with a stick I ran over (almost 20 minute delay), but pressed on in good spirits. Could tell then that the day was going to be all about attrition and survival. There aren't too many places to ride like Blue Mounds- as much climbing as Afton per same length lap, more rocks than all of MN south of Duluth and all of them sharp. On a nice dry summer day it's amazingly challenging and even more rewarding to ride. However, on a wet day in a race it's closer to hell. Add in the SS factor and it is the perfect venue.
I was in third after my dismal first lap. Pushed hard the 2nd and gained very little ground on the leader. It was apparent that this day was to be a personal challenge much more so than a "race" against the others. I had said I was going to ride the SS race and the 3 hr and I would do so. By the middle of the third lap I'd already ridden well over 3 hrs in a race that I had expected to only take around 2... The rocks, hills and mud had taken their toll, as had the 38x20 gearing. I also had only taken in nutrition for a 2 hr race prior to the race start. The plan had been to finish the 1st race then feed right away in order to recover for the 3 hr. It was starting to look like I'd have no gap at all between the races. I knew I had to stop and consume what I could so I stopped at the water stop and ate everything I had on me and 3 full bottles of HEED. I was worried that I might be passed, but figured I'd be able to jump back on my bike and kick it in to the finish if need be, but the need didn't arise.
I got back on the bike and finished the race in just under 3:45? total time. I was truly proud to finish in one piece. What a course and what a challenge. Was proud to accept the handmade wooden medal for 3rd. Any disappointment in the 3rd place finish was easily brushed away by the accomplishment of finishing despite some issues and the prospects of the 3 hr race to come.
Late to the start, running, crap! Was on the toilet when the count-down to the start began. It started and guys were running! Ouch! Tried hard to push and catch up. Really wishing for gears, legs were TIRED at this point and I needed to spin but couldn't. Did work my way within touch of the lead then went down hard. Repeated that process a couple times. The last resulted in a charly horse in my left thigh and left me riding slowly and eventually walking. I fell WAY back. Pushed on for a while as such then decided to regroup a minute, stretch and then try to give it a real go one more time. Results were positive, but after that lap I decided to call it quits. Was a bit embarassed to not finish more of the 3 hr- but in the end I'd ridden more than I'd expected to for the whole day and I knew it was time to get some food. If I'd had a better grasp on how long the SS race was going to be I'm sure I could have continued longer- heck, I know I could ride 12 hrs, right? (although surely not on shitty nutrition and in 38x20). Plus, I had another race to recover for and a lot more riding to go.
Pulled into the pit for the final time and relaxed. Thankfully, the organizers shared some of the Subway they had for volunteers and there was plenty of free beer. Soon I was feeling like myself and enjoying the good company. It's great how cool everyone is at the WEMS races. Total aside- but earlier in the year I volunteered to help out at a MMBS series race. Worked with a few people for 5 or 6 hrs... then two weeks later was treated like crap by the same people when I asked for a simple favor. Not something that would ever happen at Blue Mounds and that's enough about that.
here are some images- Thanks to Frank Hassler
I rode the 4 or 5 miles down to Scott's house and spent the rest of the night with my legs elevated while watching college football (and what a night for that too).
Sunday morning came fast! Once again it was raining, but I layered on the clothing and prepped the road bike. My left thigh was extremely stiff, but I know it would work itself out as I warmed up. We were supposed to park at the top of the Mound and register (We'd be starting in the city), but I figured I was close enough that I may as well ride there. That thing is seriously tall and steep! Plus I had gone up the easy way and it was going to be a LOT harder in the TT. Got registered and got back to the bottom of the mound to warm-up. Sadly, the weather turned some people away. I think they wound up with about 50 riders.
My warm-up was horrible, I wanted to pull the plug. I could remember every dagger-like rock in every uphill rock garden from the day before, every pedal stroke, particularly my fall onto my thigh. The $35 I'd dropped for the opportunity to ride kept me in it. My time came and I went. kept my head down for the first 3 or 4 minutes and held the most aero position I could and the biggest gears I could over the little rises and down the back sides. I passed 3 or 4 riders by the first turn, continued on and got 2 more before the next. Next was the HILL, close to 1k feet in a couple miles, pushed hard. Felt my lack of strength so shifted to trying to spin. Found myself in my easiest gear, but still pushing a good cadence. Passed a few more people. Near the top (too near, in fact) I lost my focus and concentration and slacked for a minute or two. If only I'd known how close I was I could have pushed it harder. Hard to look back on that section positively- the weight of all the riding caught up to me MENTALLY. I began to see things I recognized and could smell the finish. Was able to push hard the last thousand hards or so and really fly up the last steep bit for a time under 30 minutes. This was good enough for a decent finish (I guess), only 3.5 minutes behind the fastest time. This was a hard race, like pulling a Burly with a fat kid in it, but I was happy.
Back to the bed with the legs up for more football...
Met Scott and we caravanned our way to Plover to Scotch's beautiful house, thanks for the hospitality! The three of us went for a relatively short ride on bike paths plus some real fun rogue singletrack. I STRUGGLED to keep up on the paths with my SS gearing and my legs felt totally shot at that point. Tried not to complain, but I can admit that Scotch was far stronger than I.
Upon our return Scotch's wife had a great dinner ready to go. We ate, talked and watched football until it became apparent that the Giants had ZERO chance of being competitive. Then we jumped in the hot tub naked... well, some of us did anyways, listened to some good tunes (pretty cool how so much music is so cross-generational) and drank some good beers (other than the one I wound up with that was mixed with pomegranate juice). In the end I had to spend less time in the hot tub and drink less than those guys, or else I knew I'd be useless Monday. I'm blaming that on the extensive riding. I was a bit worried about the effects the heat would have on my sore leg too.
Monday AM a few more of the CORP guys drove up and we all met at the Standing Rocks trailhead. It was a good group of riders and a surprisingly fun, flowy trail. Would be a great site for a WORS race too... lots of flowy singletrack, a few really nice techy spots and with tons of double track available for passing sections. Hope it gets added.
Monday PM was a "lap" (meaning 2+ hrs of wandering around) at 9 mile. Interestingly, it seemed more technical not in the race. I think I was so focused on going fast in the 24 hr race that I didn't notice just how many rocks there were. Tons of fun riding there. Also, really felt myself become more comfortable with the Ss riding. By the end of the day at 9 mile I felt more confident on my bike that I can remember. Hopefully that bodes well for the future.
a few pictures and a video available here-
I think everyone had a great time Monday! I look forward to riding with those guys again sometime soon. Hopefully, another ride this fall, but the BALLS ride isn't all that far away anymore either. Spent a lot of time on the drive ruminating on how great Wisconsin is. The people, terrain, towns and recreational activities are all excellent. I'd want to move there if it weren't for the damn Packers. I think a lot of those feelings come down to the hospitality of the people, thanks again guys! The weekend couldn't have been better.
Returned home around 8 and collapsed. Work at 6:30 am Tuesday! Local gravel/beer/whiskey ride Tuesday night. No rest for the wicked.
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