My weekend starts as most weekends do for the race seasons, I wake up bright and early (5 am). Load up the E with my gear (bike and camping).
Grab some grub for breakfast. Then its on the road (8 am), for 4-1/2 hours. This is going to be a long drive (and it was). At one point I hit NW OH/NE IN/S MI and remember why in the heck I moved out of that area.
My lap wasn't to bad. The trick would be now to remember all the things I saw, and where I can gain speed, water, pass, etc. Piece of cake, right. Note, one lap is approximately 11miles. Me, the overall genius I am signed up for Expert class yet again. This means two laps equalling 22 miles. Yeah, there is a lot to try and remember for only hitting this trail once a year.
So lap done, checked in at campgrounds. Time to settle in, make some dinner, relax for the rest of the night. Or so I thought. I get back to my sight to discover the temperature dropped another few degrees and the wind picked up (10-15 mph across a lake). Therefore, it got cold! Fire was a failure (started and had it going just not enough heat to overcome cold wind), and making dinner was interesting. I am just glad I did a lot of prep work at home. Well, crashed night. But that only last for a few hours, partially because of the cold and partially because of nerves.
After fooling around with my warm up around the parking lot, I look at my computer and figured it was about time to head to the starting line. Once I get there, I looked at the active clock.....crap! I was going to miss my starting time, not good. I start doing the typical lost in the crowd thing and ask several riders where they were on the docket, only to have an official grab me by the shoulder and place me where I should be. 15 riders still to start before me.
This is when the nerves kick in and my mind starts running. Oh, this is going to be bad. I edge up to the starting line and the official tells me to hold for 10 seconds. The seconds start counting down, the adrenaline starts to kick in. Not enough time to switch gearing to what I think it should be (instead of what it suppose to be).
And I'm off. Rolling start on a slight downhill. A little voice is saying get some speed, shift up to that big ring. A quick peak at my computer and I realize that I have 22 miles plus to big ring the first few miles (with a couple of climbs) would kill me during the last few miles. At this point in time, things are going good. Good cuts, good average speed is respectable, and I am feeling good! The trail is riding quick. I look up and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two images and I am getting closer to them. It's too earlier for me to start seeing things, that doesn't happen until mile 14 after going 100%. The images were other riders. Now, I am confused because I don't see anyone while racing nor do I catch them.
It took some time but I ended up passing both of these riders (I will end up doing this several more times). At this time it's about mile 6 and I get into a quick downhill section with a hard flat cut to the right. I go to touch my rear brake to buff out some speed to make the turn. What you read next was what through my head, all while I was saying one choice word out loud.
'....um.... why did my finger just bottom out on the bar? Not good! Let me try that again, maybe it was just an air bubble. Seriously, why did it bottom out again? This is very much bad!'
At this point, I then thought, WWWD! I didn't just drive 4-1/2 hours and camp out in near arctic conditions to DNF, especially after the first 6 miles. And for some strange reason, I could almost hear Cary telling me that you don't need brakes for this trail after surviving the Hydro loop with him. Small set back. Moving on. The remainder of the lap went well. Still had some issues with some sand but nothing to set a foot down on. Get to to the Start/Finish. Lap one complete in over a little over 51 minutes (this was unknown to me at the time).
Now, it's time to suffer! The first few sections were still flowing fast, good recovery spot on the legs. First climb on lap two, quick some switch backs, and I have to pass some tandems. This is going to be fun. Passing made easy with a little free-riding. The further into the trail on lap 2 the more the lactic acid starts to build and the climbs start becoming a little more difficult. And I definitely saw a few single speeders hike-a-bike on several climbs. At this point, I am getting towards the end my legs are close to being shot and that hill I mentioned from the day before was getting close but not before I decide to take my left shoulder into a tree. This is just working out for the best. Thank goodness for a triple and a 36-11 cassette. I have no clue what gear I was in on the cassette but that little ring got its workout on that climb.
Almost done, a few more sections and I am home free! I get within the last mile and I completely forgot one section of sand. A blind right turn into a sand pit......and I am spent. I enter the sand pit with too much weight on the right plus I was not following the correct line. Wham! Face plant into a shrub. Deep breath. I pull myself out of the shrub, once over my bike, grab my glasses (that flew 2 ft from where I landed), and back on the bike to finish it off. Let's keep this thing upright, now, with less than a mile left. Time to kick it up a notch to make up the time lost for falling (more suffering). This thought process seemed to work until I realized that I truly was cashed out. And by this time it was the final stretch. So after being on the trail for about 2 hrs putting forth just about everything I had. I had no idea what place I was in but the only thing going through my mind, 'Crap....full rebuild on rear brake. And I think I lost move skin on my shoulder.....again.'
Beers for all!