I woke up a little uncertain of how today would go. For one, I discovered I drank recovery drink that was expired by over a year. I promptly had some “toilet pooping issues” call it TPI..most of yesterday afternoon and went to bed with my stomach churning and making as much noise as a natural spring. Gurggle.. gurggle… when I woke up this AM, it had not let up and I found myself spending a good amount of time sitting on the porcelain throne this morning. To make it worse, I had zero appetite and barely ate one egg and a piece of bread for breakfast. I also woke up with a very sore back from raging on the hardtail yesterday. I normally get a sore back if I ride my hardtail at a 100 mile race, but the trail wasn’t exactly smooth yesterday and I paid the price. I told myself, “Deal with it.” So I took some Imodium and ibuprofen, and packed some TP in my jersey pocket. Fortunately, I didn’t need it later.
It was cloudy and spitting rain at the start, so we packed the gortex jackets, and fortunately, we didn’t need those today either. I was in good spirits. My legs felt heavy spinning around but I knew it would be that way after the effort I laid down yesterday. The start was more neutral and slower today. Jeff and I moved up closer to the front of the field – it’s just safer that way, and also a good place to be, strategically. We went into Stage 2 with a 16 minute lead on 2nd place. It sounds like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not enough to make me feel comfortable. I didn’t want to relax for a second so off we went at the start. I tried to be more conservative than I was yesterday, and my legs were definitely hurting but I kept pedaling. The worst pain today was not my legs, but my back. It kept seizing up and I was doing everything I could to move it around. It took a few hours and a lot of ibuprofen, but it finally eased up on me and I was able to go to work. The first 14 or so miles of the race are kind of a pain haze in my brain. I remember putting it in my easiest gear and trying to pedal circles up the first steep climb and groaning from back pain. I remember staring at Jeff’s wheel on a dirt road section, and through communication, had him going just hard enough to keep me pushing it but not hard enough to destroy me. Call it motivation. We also had a train of solo guys on our wheel, and they were commenting how well Jeff and I communicated as a team. We rolled into aide 1 and I imagine I looked like a hurting unit…and I was, but I kept it rolling. That was 1.5 hours in.
After aide 1, I started feeling much better. Maybe it was because we had a 15 mile stretch of singletrack in front of us and I love singletrack. I knew the climb that was coming… I’ve ridden it for fun and in the Breck 100. We settled into a tough but good pace. There were a few guys behind me. The closer we got to the top, the harder I pushed the pace and we eventually ended up leaving the group and moving up pretty quickly on the trail. The downhill Colorado Trail section is one of the most fun pieces of singletrack in Summit County , and today was no exception. I was so thankful to be on the full suspension today – it saved my back and the downhills were so much easier! Although it’s heavier on the climbs, cumulatively, it saves more energy than getting jackhammered on the hardtail. Most of the Breck trails beat you up if you’re not careful.
The rest of the race was a ripping fast good time. Even though it hurt, I felt strong on my bike and I kept upping the pace when possible. I think I may have even made Jeff hurt a little bit today! The last piece of singletrack was the fastest of the day. I wanted to break 4 hours (and failed… yesterday our time was 4:01 and I think today our time was 4:02). so I was hammering and Jeff had no qualms with that, and he easily kept up. I think at one point, we were flying at nearly 30 mph on the trail…. I think you can tell in the video 🙂 That’s the nice thing about being the slower rider is you get to set the pace. We finished very strong, and I was left wishing the stage was longer than the 42 miles and 7300′ of climbing. We won today, and put another 13 min into 2nd place – hoping to hang on to the lead, but there are 4 more days, and anything can happen. Everyone here is strong and it is only going to get harder. If we were racing with the men, we’d still have a podium spot. I’m happy with that!
Video from Stage 2!
Steady effort today.
I didn’t track down any good photos yet… I’ll add them if I get any!
Tomorrow is the Mt. Guyot stage. Hiking at 12,000′ in the snow, 44 miles, 9400′ of elevation gain. It’s gonna hurt. I love epic riding. Can it get any better? Stay tuned.