Last I wrote I was excited to get to Wyoming and race the Drift 100, but that was also buried under a lot of stress and worry. I was concerned about our van with 230,000 miles making the trip, I was scared about the expense of travel, dog boarding, and missing work. I was worried about my lack of fitness and the twinge of weirdness in my left knee. It was very hard to let go of all that and just be psyched about the opportunity to race bikes.
Luckily my family is amazing and the drive was smooth and gorgeous, our 12 month old daughter is so flexible and rolls with whatever seems to come. We made it with no issues, our cabin was right next to the gear check and race meeting, the sun was out and warm on our faces. Still I was a knot of worry and stress, and there was still over 100 miles of unknown waiting for me the next day….but things were lining up quite nicely.
We got to the start with plenty of time, I got the last things tucked into my bags and pockets and then we were off! I hung back for a minute or two to see what others were going to do and to get my legs spinning smoothly. There was a big winter storm forecasted for the next day that I didn’t want to tangle with if at all possible, so when the pace didn’t increase I pulled to the front and tried to find a good balance between getting it done and not blowing up my legs. I made the first aid station in good time on a firm fast bit of trail, I filled my water and headed right back out trying to keep the pace and stay ahead of the storm. A few miles later the course dropped off of the nice groomed tracks and headed off into the wind blown wilds!
I tried to keep pedaling and kept lowering my tire pressure, but alas I was forced to walk. That’s when Pete caught me. Pete was skate skiing and blew me away with his fluid form and smooth use of energy. We went back and forth many times over the next 30 or so miles. Every time I thought I would drop him and pull ahead, he would instead pull along side me and pass me! We hit and left the second aid station, Sheridan, about the same time. The trail got significantly faster and easier after and I managed to slowly pull away. By the third aid station I was a few miles ahead. I stopped, chatted with he super nice folks there, ate, drank coffee, filled my water, and pushed on. The climb up Union Pass was firm and ridable, but my tight back and empty legs forced me to get off and walk, over and over. I got super frustrated every time I had to get off and walk, but still I crested the pass and did my best to gun it down the other side.
I managed to stay hard on the pedals till the slightly downhill rolling flats near the end. On dirt this would be an easy place to drop gears and hammer, on snow, with my depleted legs and screaming back, I was forced to back off over and over. I yelled at the sky, I screamed at my legs and back, I tried to push through it and hammer, but I had to keep backing down and just pedal. None the less the miles slowly fell behind me and I arrived at the Kendal Valley Lodge to the excited cheers of Rachel and the race directors. I won, hot damn, I won! Right up to the end I thought for sure I would see Pete’s headlamp, or hear that crunch swoosh of his skate skis.
The craziest part of this ride was how underwhelmed and lack luster I feel afterwards. Not that the race wasn’t good, it was great. Good course, good conditions, well run aid stations, great people, all in all an event I recommend for next year! I just don’t feel free to celebrate with all the madness, confusion, and suffering that is going on in the world right now. I just can’t get my head out of the crappy situation the world is in. I was going to use the Drift 100 as my jump back into racing, with the AZTr 800 in a few weeks and the ITI next year. Things have changed and my plans have too. I’m out of work like so many others, traveling is no longer a good idea and in some respects not possible. So who knows what is next, other than a lot of catching up with use chores and laying low. I am grateful that I got to travel and race just before things got super crazy. I am also so thankful for my amazing wife and daughter, they are my rock in these times and they mean everything to me.
Huge thanks to Why Cycles for making such an amazing bike, my Big Iron is only 3 weeks old, yet was dialed and perfect. Also big thanks to SRAM for their great components that keep me shifting and braking smoothly. I have been blessed by the support of so many people in my life, regular folks that have gone out of their way to inspire and support me in my relentless pursuit of my dreams, you know who you are and I can not thank you enough.
Just a reminder, lets keep our heads level in these tough times and keep loving and supporting one another, there has never been a more important time for community.