Monday, August 19, 2013

Ruby 50 Miler...

Things are finally feeling right again. After a good O2S, a week of vacation in the U.P. on some of the best single track trails in the world, it was time to focus on building up the endurance miles again before CX. And it just so happened that the Ruby 50 would be taking place in my own back yard and back roads! So instead of riding for hours on back roads by myself on a Sunday afternoon, why not do it with friends? After repeatedly saying "I would never do this race, because I don't like endurance mountain bike races, and 50 miles at Rudy is a suicide mission", I found myself at the start line.

After doing the race I stand corrected! First of all, this race is still very low key, but has a great grassroots vibe, and a really cool format when you look at it. 50 miles of flat hard pack fast as hell dirt roads for 4.8 miles, and then 5.2 miles of some of the hardest most technical single track trails in the state! This is truly a race that has something for everyone, but refuses to cater to no one! The mix of great old school trails, with the fast group racing of a gravel grinder all wrapped up in a 5 lap, 10 mile loop race format truly makes this a great race to compete, to watch or just challenge yourself at completing. Think of  races like "Cone-Azalia" and "Grampian Challege" all rolled up into one! I'm glad I did it, and hope it sticks around and continues to grow.

The goals for the day were simple. Complete 50 miles. Give it a go at the front if I was feeling good. So all the racers in every class assembled for the start on the dirt road at the front of the campground. Brent Walk yelled go! and you were off and running. The pace went off like a rocket ship! And soon a sharp point formed at the front. Several of my TSB team mates were right in the mix. Instinctively anyone that could hang, began to pace line like a metronome. The pace stayed really high for the entire 1st lap. We hit the single track and it began to spread out. I found myself in a group of 4 with a small gap forming behind us. Chris Hansen, Tony Bastuk, and Scott Vermullin were all in this group. We railed through every corner and stuck together like glue. On the 2nd lap we were all together, and began the pace line again. This helped grow our gap to almost a minute to the rest of the race. Into the single track again and more of the same. At the top of  the big climb called "Lance", Scott dropped his chain. He was able to claw back on, but we soon found our group down to 3. Chris, Tony and myself pushed on. We continued to put out the same effort lap after lap. This was the fastest I ever raced for this distance, but I was surprised how well I was feeling overall. By the time the 4th lap rolled around, the beginning of fatigue was setting in as the trees seemed a lot closer, and a few bobs and dabs of the feet were becoming routine from all of us. My legs were just starting to get that special feeling of the first signs of cramps, but I still felt strong. Half way through the single track and Tony took a header in front of me. I had to brake, and Chris continued. Tony went down hard. So I stopped all together to make sure he was Ok. Chris now had a gap, and it was difficult for me to put out more power to close down. He remained within my sites and when we started to climb again, he yelled for me to catch up to help pull on the road. During this time, Tony was chasing as well. I tried to make one more push to Chris, but the legs had nothing left. About 2 miles into the last lap, Tony was able to make his way back. But we could not pull Chris back together. We worked for each other for as long as possible, and were both happy to be battling for 2nd and 3rd overall. When we made it to the first river crossing, I decided to try and ride it again thinking I could open up some room on Tony before the end of the race. I made it all the way. Tony decided to run. It was enough for me to get a gap and hold it to the end. I finished up 2nd overall and only 2 minutes behind Chris. This was good enough for 1st in my age group as well. Not a bad day in the woods just looking for some good training!

Congrats to Chris and Tony. It sure was a lot of fun, and you both worked your asses off!

Also, congrats to TSB! We had some great results, and a lot of personal Goals were met, making for a perfect tough day.

Thanks to Todd and Kevin, for pushing to get this event in our back yard again, and wiping the trail into great shape year after year!

Finally, thanks to Mike's Mix for fueling me through such grueling events like Ore to Shore and Ruby 50!