A couple of weeks before the race, Jim is trying to back out and tell us he doesn’t want us to ride with him because he doesn’t want to slow us down… Secretly, Kenny and I were glad he was coming along (though we never mentioned it to each other, we’re trained to be tough and look forward to stupid ideas) because it would keep us from killing each other trying to push too hard. Plus, we wanted to make sure that his long, hard ride would be as good as possible. With a lot of cajoling, Jim finally agreed and signed up!!!
The day finally arrives! Around 6:30AM nearly all of the participating KSD’ers group up and take the 1 mile ride to the starting line. Jim is instantly goofing around pulling wheelies and such, which I can’t miss an opportunity to show off and promptly join him! Though I did tell him if I saw him doing that on the trail I was going to increase the pace because I took that as a sign of too much left over energy. With the necessary stop at the porta-john to shed excess weight we make our way to the mass of bikers already lined up. Once settled, Jim pulled out a GPS that looks like it was from 1994. In the process of mocking him, I hear Kenny start cursing at his Garmin which only had 1% battery remaining… And as everyone knows, if it’s not on Strava, it never happened! Then we’re off!
If you haven’t seen a 700+ person mass start, go find it on youtube! Chaos is the only word I can use to describe it. Halfway down Main St. Jim and I bump bars, but stay upright. Near miss #1… About halfway up the big climb at the start a lead group is starting to form ahead of us and Kenny tries to bridge the gap. I then take a turn only to look behind me to find him and Jim both slowing down, what gives!! Oh well, with 30 miles of singletrack ahead it’s not worth burning any more matches.
Finally onto the smooth road and eventually to Buck Haven, right on target at just over 4 hrs. This time, it was me who was delaying the show. I realized my glasses were muddy from the horse trails and headed over to grab a paper towel. On the way back to my bike I dropped my glove. When I turned around to pick it up, I’m nearly met head on by a rider coming in. Good thing he is paying attention! Near miss #9… As we head out, Jim has a huge chunk of watermelon in his mouth. I immediately start laughing, which causes him to laugh and start choking. Near miss #10… A few more huge gravel road climbs and we reach Mohican Wilderness. Normally, Jim and I go wild on technical, long, rocky downhills like that, but after a minute I’m all alone. I think to myself “Jim must really be tired to not be enjoying this!” I manage to ride the whole wilderness trail until the large hike-a-bike at the top (unless you are a beast like the 2 guys Kenny and I watched ride the entire hill!!)
Aid station 3, at last! I’m not feeling great at this point. I know I can finish, but I’m ready to be sitting on something that’s not a slab of carbon bouncing down a trail. Kenny leaves early and tells me he will be back in a few. Jim is looking slightly better that death. I offer him some food, but he says no more will go down. I make sure we are both topped with water and we head down the road. Literally 200 feet after the aid station, Jim is pulling off to use the restroom. He looks at me and asks how I’m feeling. I can tell he is at his low point. Everyone has one on a ride like that. I tell him there’s only 2 big hills left and that I feel like crap, but know we can do it. 2 minutes later, Kenny is pedaling back towards us with a PBR in hand. I’m pretty sure Jim instantly vurps and he knows not to offer me a drink!! Still don’t know how he came up with it. Maybe he just stole it from a cooler or someone felt bad enough and gave it up? No one will ever know?!
At last we are on the road leading to the finish line. I turn around to see the 100 mile runner up pass us like we are standing still and bump Jim’s bars again! Near miss #21… We all cross the finish line doing a wheelie, except for Kenny because he is lacking of that skill, and promptly get yelled at by the people scoring that they can’t see our numbers!! Keepin’ it classy as usual!
Thanks to all the support from the people cheering on the side, other KSD’ers volunteering and all of the overly helpful and friendly aid station volunteers!!! This is what makes this such a great event. Can’t wait to do it again next year! Great ride Jim, I hope Kenny and I helped make it a truly memorable day and that you’ll join us next year to make more great stories and jokes!