Race results (6th SS)
Uggh, I'm so behind on doing any race recaps this year, though its not for lack of racing or lack of results. Hopefully I'll get a chance to catch back up on those once I get this beast out of my head. I went into the year with 2 big races on my calendar and a fair amount of smaller/shorter XC racing filling the gaps. Cheq 100 was my first big goal race, which I still need to recap as well and my 2nd shot at Dakota 5-0 was to be my second big race for the year.
I had roughly 2.5 months to get myself recovered, refocused, and ready for Dakota so it wasn't a quick turnaround by any means, but in turn it gave me almost too much time to the point that I really started fretting my self prescribed training plans and goals. It finally got to the point that a couple days before heading off to the race, I just tried to push all thoughts of goals, pacing, splits, etc out of my head and focus on going out to ride sweet trails and push myself hard through the race. Hopefully I'd come out the other side with a better time than last year and from there let the chips fall where they may. Once I made that call, I drew a pretty big sigh of relief and started getting more excited about racing versus just wanting to be done with the race.
Middle of nowhere South Dakota gas stop
Fuller and Squirrel were my compatriots for the 10 hour haul to get out to Spearfish. We opted to do the drive out as an overnight to roll into town early on Friday with plenty of time to get settled in, hang out, get a solid pre-ride, and relax a bit. We rolled the route from Tinton trailhead up to Aid station 1 before turning and bombing the downhill. Unfortunately, Squirrel got off in the loose fluff at the edge of the trail and introduced his wheel to the nearest tree. A taco'ed wheel was the result along with a slightly banged up Squirrel. We rolled the last mile or so pretty slowly as his wheel was still barely ridable. Once that bit of fun was out of the way, we managed to get a new wheel coming from Rasmussen's via some teammates that hadn't left town quite yet. Disaster averted, we found some good eats and a few beers before settling in for the night.
Rushmore Mountain Sports kicked butt with free beer for the racers!
Saturday, we rolled with even more teammates that had showed up (17+ member's flying the Rassy black at Dakota!) for a morning pre-ride. This time we headed up to the Aid 1 parking lot and would our way over to the Bacon Station to give the Dakota virgins a test ride of the most techy section of the course. We rolled down to the last fire road climb and then headed back to the vehicles for a nice short warm-up and shaking out of the legs for the last time before the real fun would begin the next morning. After a smooth time heading through packet pick-up, we spent the afternoon hanging out with friends and getting our final prep done before race rollout.
Lots of Rassy teammates
Bike is ready to roll.
As per my usual, I slept like crap the night before the race. Even with an early bed time, I woke up feeling like I got shorted on sleep from all the tossing, turning, and fretting in my head about the race. No choice now but to get things loaded up and give it a go. I had laid out everything and prepped as much as possible the night before to hopefully avoid missing anything in the morning rush. No issues there as all was good to go and we got to the race start in plenty of time for warmup and some nervous chit chatting before we lined up. Squirrel and I opted for a wave 1 start given that we both were figuring on being in under 5 hours. Since I was hoping to do better this year, I got in place early and ceded myself only a couple rows in from the front versus last year where I'd started around 8 rows back. I was really hoping the roll out would be a bit better for me this year. Last year it had gone off like a track start at 25 mph and I got passed by a ton of people before having to work my butt off on the gravel climb to pass them back.
Sitting about 3rd row in:
At 7:10, Smokey the Bear dropped his arm and we took off following the race director on his quad for the roll out of town. I got my legs moving pretty quickly and was sitting pretty comfortably in the top 25-30 through the rollout. I had on a bigger gear this year opting for my 19t cog which helped, but I think the pace might have been slightly slower as well. All in all, my legs weren't awesome, but they weren't dead either as we wound it up for the real racing to start at the gravel. My plan for the gravel was the same as last year, go hard, but don't blow up and get into the singletrack as far up the leaderboard as possible. I could see the fast guys getting themselves together for attacking the climb and I was still sitting pretty close at that point. As we got into the climb I kept checking my legs and my heart rate to see how both were doing. I had more left in the tank, so I kept jumping on some wheels and marking Trevor Rockwell who has been killing the SS enduro's this year. I just kept thinking that if I could stick close to him, I might be having a pretty good day.
On the meat of the opening climb, there was definitely some wind in play. I made a point to duck in and keep my nose out of it as often as possible and it seemed to help. I'd sit for a minute and then jump to another wheel as the faster guys would come around. We finally got close to the singletrack and I was sitting in a great position so I just opened it up and put a solid dig in to keep or maintain my spot. From the looks of the pictures, I went into the singletrack around 15th or so and was the first SS'er. I knew from last year that I was able to ride all of the opening singletrack, but could also get some recovery as well as the pack would slow down for some of the more technical spots. Well, I'd blown the recovery portion out of the water as the leaders definitely weren't going to be waiting for anyone. I just had to go with it. I rode fast and hard, but tried to avoid really going over the top. Every time I looked down though, I could see my heart rate was about 10 beats higher than I wanted.
Headed to Tinton trail on Kelly Magelky's wheel:
Throughout the push to Aid #1 we selected down to a group of about 7-10 riders basically in the first chase group after the leaders. There were 3 singlespeeders in the pack with myself, Trevor, and another guy that we didn't know. For the most part, nobody really got dropped or changed positions here as we were all riding pretty close to the same pace. As we got to the aid station, I kept right on cruising after learning my lesson and stopping there the previous year. That had cost me close to 10 spots in the 30 seconds I stopped and I wasn't going to let that happen again. I'd figured on riding straight to Aid #2 with the liquid I was carrying before topping the bottles.
Railing after Big Hill/Aid #1
Still sitting pretty comfortably in the top 20, we motored the section after Big Hill and into some dusty open meadow singletrack. This is where I started having a few issues as it was so dusty that I dropped back from the guys in front of me to hopefully clear my vision a little in case there was something I needed to avoid. Eventually, I got gapped off the back just a little, but another rider came around and offered to give me a pull back to the group on one of the shallow meadow climbs. I stuck like glue to his wheel and slowly we rolled back onto the small group I'd been riding with.
Out in here, the race starts going fuzzy. I put my head down and pedalled. I was still riding tight on Trevor's wheel and one singlespeeder was out in front of us. I felt pretty good, but definitely knew it was time to start backing down the effort in hopes of maintaining my position. The notable portion of section 2 has to be Cardiac Climb. You scream down into a big drainage only to be routed straight back up the hill. I remember walking a good chunk of the climb last year. This year, I definitely rode more of it, but all 3 of us singlespeeders eventually hopped off and started the walking portion. I did try jogging more this year which I'm not sure how much really helped other than it made my calves and legs scream for mercy as I tried pushing on.
On over the top and through to aid station 2 I was still sticking tight to Trevor's wheel. Somewhere in here, I actually passed him and then just put in a steady hard effort all the way into the aid station. I was wondering just how much he had in the tank. I knew I was pushing my limits, but I was hoping maybe I'd be working on him as well.
Leading into aid 2:
Don't look behind you
As we rolled into aid 2, I had my plan off attack for refilling my bottles and getting moving in as little time as possible. What I didn't count on was the only water source being from the water tank that had been towed up. I rode straight past it and to the volunteer table where they only had cups of water/sports drink, but nothing to fill a bottle. I handed a girl my bottle and she ran to go fill it for me, but I lost precious seconds in my mistake as Trevor nailed the stop and got a 20 plus second gap on me. It wasn't the time to panic so I finished up my stop and focused on getting away clean and without losing anymore time.
Pics borrowed from: