If you haven’t ridden Phil’s World outside of Cortez Colorado, you need to get your butt down there and ride! I had the pleasure of being down there this past weekend for the 12 hours of Mesa Verde, my first race of the year and my first solo lap race in 7 years. The place is amazing. Folks with pure trail genius oozing out of their pores built the smoothest, fastest corners I think I have ever ridden, utilizing the terrain to its blissful trail riding potential. The event is also smooth and tight.
Having not yet raced this year, or put in too many long rides, or that many rides at all, I went into the race a bit nervous about my fitness, but mostly worried about my bum and my back. Was I ready for 12 hours of riding, of riding all singletrack, would I curl up and want to cry, would I blow up and look the fool? Would my Sram XX1 keep delivering the goods or make me walk. Well one can wonder their life away or go out and live it, right? This was also my first time racing for my team, Griggs Orthopedics, Team GO,and I wanted even more to do my best.
Before I know it I am standing in a crowd of hundreds of bikers, the gun goes off and we begin the long day with a jog to our bikes. I go slow on the run and end up bottle-necked and in the back of the pack. I bide my time and take it easy on the first lap, forgetting that the key to lap racing is pass pass pass. By the second lap I feel warmed up and begin to crank the throttle, even as my back begins to throb and fill with knots. Grin and bear it, I tell myself, grin and bear it. From here I simply want to keep the rubber side down and aim for 1:30 laps. Chase the rabbits and run from the wolves to keep the pace from falling off. Oh My does it hurt.
Somehow I simply let the pain be and keep the pedals spinning, and if you keep the pedals spinning you will get there. I keep eating, drinking and pedaling through intense sun, a bit of refreshing rain. I do terrible math all day trying to figure out where I need to be to get my desired 8 laps. I do the math over and over, not that I could go any faster if I wanted, but it gives the old noggin something to do besides focus on the discomfort taking over my body. I manage to get through the lap tent before 6:pm and have the chance to hit my goal, 8 laps! Through out the day my team does a great job of keeping me hydrated, plenty of Squirt on my chain and lifting my spirits, thus I am ready for one more.
Although it hurts, I almost don’t want it to end, the course is just that fun to ride. Even after hundreds of wheels and being exhausted I can still rail the corners with lots of speed, corner after corner just begs you to lean into it and trust it. After 12:30+ hours of riding I am cooked, sunburnt, tight and beat up, but so damn happy. It was not a perfect race, not even close. There is something magical about pushing yourself, with a goal in mind and the willingness to do it, to suffer for it and to pull it off is irreplaceable. It was so hard, it hurt a whole lot, but there is nothing I would have rather been doing this weekend. All day I had no idea where I was in the standings, come to find out I pulled off 5th place and got to stand up on the podium, I just can’t stop smiling!!
Huge thanks to the event organizers, the volunteers out there all day, my awesome fellow racers on Team GO, Dr. Rhett Griggs for making this team happen, Jari for the ride down, Miff for watching JBoy, DaveMoe for letting us leave for the weekend and all the wonderful folks out there racing their bikes with me. It was a great weekend!