Monday, March 31, 2008
No man's land
All 38 (plus one at 9am) riders rolled out at around 6:15 am, just as the sun was slowly beginning to light the bike path up to Arches. Morning has always been the most magical time to be on the bike, just as the sun begins to rise.
I started strong wanting to be pushed by others and decrease the possibility of getting lost on some of the sections of Rockin' A or Circle O. I was up at the front of the pack early, well, for a little bit, I had to pull over to go #1 real quick. While I was doing so, the leaders disappeared into the rolly sections of Rockin' A. Then, my water bottles started giving me issues. One flew off, followed by another one that was about to fly away, so I had to stop again to tighten them a little bit.
After Circle O, I passed Fred changing a flat and later caught up to Max, who also flatted his tubeless with a gash to his sidewall. We started to ride together on Sovereign, chatting here and there, but mostly watching the the 2 Epic crew and Jeff get closer and closer to us. Max flatted again just before the last drop to the bridge on Sovereign. At the bridge, I caught up to Plesko and we had a proper introduction and chatted a little bit more before starting to climb up the 7 Mile Canyon. Plesko and the 2 Epic Crew dropped me very quickly, so I began to ride solo for the next few hours out to highway 313. I started eating mojo bars and hammer gels, the first real food that I had eaten since the early morning Denny's run at 5am. I felt a little dehydrated from the beer on Friday night, so I was downing water very quickly on the road.
At the turn off 313 to Gemini, I met Craig's wife Sharon, who was volunteering for the RR. We chatted for a few minutes, mostly I remember asking how far was the 2 Epic Crew in front of me.... about 5 minutes was the answer. Riding down Gemini bridges at 30 mph was a great recovery from the windy, hill climb on 313. Route finding on blue dot and spike were going to be a little tricky, so my main goal was to try to catch someone that was familiar with these sections of the trail. I was alone for about 90% of the RR, but who cares when the weather was so perfect ....it was hard not to enjoy every mile along the ride solo or in a group.
I finally met up with the guy on the Moots (who had shot out to the front early, but later fell behind). We played yo-yo for the next few miles, eventually passing Fred sitting at Gemini to help/check up on the riders. Him and I were it, we were in no-man's land. If you look at the times, you can see the huge gap between the first 5 riders and the rest of the field. Basically, it was just him and I. We blazed down toward Gold Bar, before he stated talking about heading back to camp and drinking a beer. I headed up thinking he was following, but I never saw him again (ahhhhhhhh, the power of beer).
Ah climbing, finally! Gold Bar! I love to climb and climb. The slick rock added a new dimension to climbing. I pedaled along, although walking was very, very common in the technical sections. I still glanced behind me periodically to see if anyone was riding Gold Bar below. But, I was still riding solo. Blue dot was a little tricky, although the GPS seemed to help out a lot in some areas of uncertainties. The views were incredible. Unfortunately, I only stopped for a few seconds before continuing on the trail. The high of catching someone finally came on a section of Poison Spyder/Golden Spike intersection, home of a big climb. I saw two figures on the top of the hill, which I presumed to be Dave and Lynda. The thought of being able to draft back to camp pushed me to run up the hill and hammer toward them. This section was the only section of the ride that I had pre-ridden about a year ago, and I thought I was closer to the road, this propelled my eagerness to catch them even more.
As I finally got closer, I realized that they were not racers, just a couple out enjoying Poison Spyder. The next few miles down to the road were fast; water was becoming an issue. The thought of last week's free Miller High life on the trail pressed me to ask a jeep enthusiast for beer, to which they whole heartedly said of course!. Turns out, they only had wine coolers, so I opted to just dream of water and drank more HEED (this is an issue I need to work on.... I have had two incidents where I had HEED instead of water at the end of a race and had to suffer through the last few miles with a dry mouth). I continued to pedal on toward the road. I put my head down, shifted to the big ring, and began to ride down Potash with more hopes of finding someone. As I turned the corner into Moab, just below the Uranium mine, I saw a figure in the distance (turns out it was Jeff) on the hill. I continued to push until the finish.
I rolled in a little under 11 hours after starting to some friendly hosts, mostly Dave C. offering me gingerale and water.
11 hours on the bike, 90.38 miles, one good time on the bike..... and very, very rewarding.