I first set tire to the Black Hills of South Dakota in 2008. It was my first endurance race after racing XC for many years. When I decided not to race Park City Point2Point in favor of the Vapor Trail 125, it left my Labor Day weekend open to deliberation. I decided to return to the Dakota Five-0. The race would be under 5 hours which would be less strenuous than the 7+ hour Park City race!
I love the Dakota Five-0 for many reasons. The amazing singletrack and pretty colors are just a couple of the reasons. The other memory that stuck out in my mind from 4 years ago was camping at Spearfish City Campground. There are a couple hundred people camping (700 racers) and it’s a fun community. I got to meet a lot of new people from the midwest racing scene and my friend Shane from Boulder was also camping so there was a familiar face too! I was really impressed to see a little girl on a strider bike riding downhill on singletrack just outside the park. Striders have no brakes!
I was really relaxed before the race. I had just come off a rest block after Oregon. I didn’t have time to ride for over a week, and I needed to give myself some recovery time from Leadville anyway. And the major bonus – my cast had been off for just over a week!
I woke up at 5 AM in my tent and of course, it was pitch black outside!
The start went well. I was surprised to find myself dangling on the lead group of men. I got dropped at some point over the 3 miles of gravel road climbing before entering the singletrack. The start waves were really good because the course traffic wasn’t an issue! There is very little opportunity to pass once you got on the Tinton Trail because it’s so narrow and wonderfully fast!
At mile 7, I got a report that I had a 5 minute lead. I settled in and was simply enjoying riding singletrack. I hadn’t raced on trail in almost 2 months. I am still rusty going fast on the descents and had to wear a brace in the race. Around mile 26, I felt my tire going flat. I thought it was my imagination…after all, there have been many times where I thought my tire was flat because I felt tired and it wouldn’t be flat. I stopped to check. It was definitely losing air. I knew the next aide was about 4 miles away and it was mostly downhill. I could hear the sound of the barely inflated tire on my rim. I decided to take the corners a little slower so I didn’t blow the tire off the rim. For some reason, I decided to ride it out to the aide station. I didn’t want to use my CO2 if the aide station was so close in case it flatted again. Gambling. I also took a crash because a tree branch was across the trail in the air. It moved my brake lever so I could barely reach it. I’d fix that at the aide station too. I kept stopping to check my tire and make sure it wasn’t going to roll off the rim. Perry (The race promoter) was there himself. I was asking around for a floor pump and he pumped my tire. It was at something like 8 psi! I had him pump it to 40psi so I’d have more time if it started leaking. In that time, the 2nd place lady went by. I was bummed to have lost time with the flat tire! I should have checked the Stan’s in my tires leading up to the race because the rear tire ended up being almost bone dry.
I had 20 miles to bring Christy (the lady that moved into the lead) back, but in the end, I could not close the gap. I had some front derailleur problems as well. I should have spent more time going over the nitty gritty details of the bike the day before, but it worked perfect on the pre-ride! I rolled across the line just 3 minutes out of 1st place! I was bummed about the mechanical issues, but glad I hung onto 2nd because 3rd place was just 2 minutes back! The grand prize for 1st overall was a SRAM Qarq powermeter! I realllly wanted to win it so that was my main disappointment. I trained with a 26″ PowerTap wheel all year before I got my 29er. I love training with power… and I really want to start racing with power, but the PowerTap wheel is just too heavy for racing.
After that, I dove headfirst into a giant Oatmeal Cream Pie! I’ve only had one of those since I was a kid and that was last year during this. They also had some free tacos for racers.
There were great prizes, good prize money, live music – it was all good!
They did an age group podium as well since there was no “open” category. I realized this is my last year in the 29 and under category. Most races I do are just an open category so I never think about it, but this time I did!
It was a blast watching the kids Strider bike races!!! Some of them were very determined!
It’s great to see how much this event has grown in the 4 years (and since it started in ’01) Big giant warm thanks to Perry and Kristi Jewett and to my sponsors!
Next race: Vapor Trail 125 in 2 short days!