A trip report, of sorts:
Seeing a series of four headlamps (Dave, Erin, Jason, and Paul) climbing Segment 1 up from the South Platte River last night around 11 pm, it seems that a local homeowner thought that the lights belonged to lost hikers and called the local sheriff. Of course, by the time he showed up, the others were well up the hillside and the sheriff found me, sitting down by the river, having stuffed four Kebler Pepper-Jack Sandwich Crackers into my mouth (in the interest of efficiency), my gear strewn along the side of the river (in an effort to find the water filter, which is somehow always at the bottom of the pack), trying to work a clogged-up water filter pump with my knees while flipping through the trail databook with my hands.
After blasting me with his spotlight for an uncomfortably long period of time without saying anything, he steps out of his car and asks the usual cop-question, “What are you doing?”
When talking to a police officer, there is always an implied obligation to offer the whole truth, so I considered replying with: “I’m trying to consume my 6,000th calorie today, drink some of this delicious stream water, and take a break from riding through heavy rain and fog so thick that I had to walk my bike at times because I couldn’t see three feet in front of my face. The ride started almost 7 days ago, preceded by the consumption of delicious breakfast-brick served up at Carver’s that must have consisted of at least 10 eggs. Nearly every waking hour for the past week has been spent riding, pushing, or carrying my bicycle. At night I’ve been crawling under trees and falling asleep with my rain clothes on. I’ve been subsisting on an assortment of junk foods, mostly peanut M&M’s, Twizzlers, and Snickers, but the biscuits and gravy at Jan’s in Buena Vista, the nachos at the Tennessee Pass Cafe in Leadville, the “bacon cheeseburger mac-n-cheese” at Copper, and the lifesaving hamburger at the Stagestop Saloon on Tarryall road, all count among the best meals that I’ve ever tasted. My front tire is going flat, I’ve got almost no brake-pads left, and the bolt holding my dropout onto the frame is just barely hanging on after a late-night repair (aren’t singlespeeds supposed to be more reliable?). My body is in an equally abused and battered condition to my bike. The last time that I did laundry, it was in a sink. Everything I’m carrying is dirty. And Wet. But I’m glad that I’m here.”
But, since I had to shout over a raging river to be heard, I decided to keep things simple. After hastily swallowing some half-chewed crackers, I yelled: “I’m riding my bicycle!”
I immediately realized that this might seem suspicious, because it was 11:30 at night, and because I had left my bike in the bushes, where the sheriff could probably not see it. Also, I expected that this would lead to a lot of follow-up questions like: “Why are you riding a bicycle this late?”, “Why are you riding a bicycle this far?”, “If you’ve already ridden your bicycle this far two times before, why would you want to do it again?”, and “If a 1x11 setup offers all the reliability and weight-savings of a singlespeed, why wouldn’t you just run that and save yourself some hike-a-bike on the steeps and a lot of spinning out on the road sections?”
Luckily, this cop really understood the core mantra of an endurance race like this and didn’t slow me down with any bullshit questions. In response to “I’m riding my bicycle.” He thought about it, and yelled back: “Okay. That’s fine. Just keep going.”
So, I’m very impressed with the Jefferson Country Sheriffs Office and their staff’s deep grasp of ultra-endurance mountain bike racing. When provided with the opportunity, many cops would offer superficial advice like “Remember to keep your weight centered on the bicycle.”, “Eat a good balance of foods to keep your energy up.”, or “Camping is not allowed by the river here.”
But no. This cop cut straight to the core of things. If it’s midnight, pouring rain, and you’re trying to finish a 540 mile race, there is really only one piece of advice you need. “Just keep going.”
So that’s what I did. 6 days, 22 hours, 34 mins. Half a day faster than last year even with the scenic gravel grind.
Also, did anyone else think it was awesome that the owner of the Stagestop Saloon (on Tarryall Road) was super excited about the race? He was following it on trackleaders and it seemed like he knew the names of most of the racers and he could tell you the splits of how long it took people to reach Denver from his shop. He said that he even let some of the racers camp next to the store. I’m guessing that this will be a popular place for racers (and fans??) in future years if the Tarryall detour stays.
Oh, and it was great riding with you Jason! I'll give you a holler when we're heading up to South Dakota!
And now for some photos:
Ryan Franz tackles the breakfast-brick at Carver's.
Start of the race in Durango!
Stefan Griebel enjoys the singletrack after Kennebec Pass.
Pushing up Segment 23 outside of Silverton.
Sink-laundry in Leadville.
Jason in the early morning near Tennessee Pass with ~35 degree temps.
The sweet descent off Searle Pass and into Copper Mountain.
My trusty steed on top of Georgia Pass
2:35 AM finish at Waterton. Thanks to Dave for the photo!
It was a great ride!