The Growler is a special little race. First it happens here in Gunnison Colorado my home. Second it occurs on the BLM land known as Hartman Rocks, which is full of lots of flowy singletrack, hard and easy rock moves and incredible views. Third it is staffed with tons of super nice folks that really want you to have a good time and race your bike. Plus it is hard, real hard. Finishing the Growler is a feat, doing well takes experience, skill, fitness and good luck, lots of good luck.
This was my second attempt to race the Growler, I raced last year, sort of on a whim and it floored me pretty good. I wanted to give it a bit more focus and try going faster, kinda what racing is all about, challenging yourself to be better, smarter, faster. Well life is what it is and despite trying really hard to stay on top of doing lots of core work and stretching this winter and early spring, I struggled with a tight back and dead legs. I did the 12 Hours Of Mesa Verde 2 weeks ago and it was apparent that I wasn’t as strong as my mind wanted to be. But I am able to push past discomfort and did well anyways, but that effort kicked my butt. I tend to recover slow and didn’t feel too strong all the next week. Then this past weekend I went out and rode 85 miles of mostly the Growler course in three days. It cooked me.This past week leading up to the race I was tight, sore and scared. Man I am a dumb ass sometimes!
Well time flew on by and suddenly it was Growler weekend, a busy little time for Gunny. On Saturday we got slammed at Rock N Roll with last minute repairs, food items and the usual weekend traffic. Funny how when you are doing three things at once you always get those awful automated phone calls, “Come on I am Working!” or folks asking a million questions about some used bike they know nothing about. I survived, got off work, bought food, picked up my registration, walked the dogs, ate dinner was about to hit the shower when I realized that I hadn’t gone for an easy spin. So at 9:45 I headed out with my lights for a quick 30 minute road cruise. The moon was full, the air cool and clean, ahhh just love bike riding!
Got up at the crack of dawn, ate, walked the dogs, loaded up my bottles and headed downtown for the 7:AM start. My head filled with wonder about what the day was going to look like, would I cramp, would it hurt the whole time, could I really get two laps in 6 hours? Well there is only one way to answer these questions, GO Ride!
After the gun goes off it is a crazy roll out to the base area with 350 other riders, it is fun and kinda scarey. Up KilI Hill with all those folks packed into one and a half lanes of steep dirt road. People are spinning out, singlespeeders are grinding their way up, I feel the excitement and begin to pass and pass and pass. Run from the wolves and chase the rabbits is my race motto. Try not to get passed and chase everyone in front, or at least try.
The thing is that no matter how much it hurts, I just love riding and racing bikes, year after year, race after race, I still find myself in love with what I am doing. It isn’t so easy to keep that perspective in your head, you got to remind yourself to smile, to hit a jump here and there and holler! Because there is a fine line between focusing too much on performance and still having fun. Today the balance was perfect. I was happy as can be and racing my ass off. It feels so damn good to set a goal and do it! Was hoping to make it around twice in 6 hours, managed 5:47, so stoked!
Bottomless thank you’s to Rhett Griggs for getting Team Griggs Orthopedics together, so much fun racing and hanging with all those awesome folks.Thanks to all the other sponsors for our making our team possible, Stans No Tubes, CBMR, Rock N Roll Sports, Pearl Izumi, Pike Construction, The Elk Mountain Lodge, Go To Guide, Acli-Mate, Sram, Squirt, Rudy Project, Chuck’s Glass and High Mountain Concepts. Also to Gunnison Trails for putting on such a great event and bringing such a good group of folks to our community. The Growler is actually the primary fundraiser for Gunnison Trails, whose mission is to build, maintain and improve trail opportunities in the Gunnison Valley, support the trails!