Bucket list item…check!
As I neared 40 last year I started having these crazy ideas on riding my first 50 miler mtn bike race (crazy things happen when you turn 40). Training started in January amidst snow, rain and wind all over the mountains of Golden. I was determined to finish this race, letters not numbers right?
I woke up that morning with a tumbling stomach and nerves like I have never felt before. We loaded up and headed for the start line in Breck. I checked and rechecked everything and we headed off after peeing (sorry but true) 80 times from nerves; nothing like a race to cleanse the system. Apparently you lose brain cells at elevation. As I prepared my bike I had the realization I forgot my Garmin…REALLY! The thought of not knowing myr time and mileage for a 50 mile ride would be horrible… but what was I to do? I called back to camp and my dear friends said they would try and save my day and try to get my forgotten Garmin to me. I knew it was a long shot but crossed my fingers. I lined up super nervous at the start (which mind you is in the middle of the Breckenridge Fourth of July Parade) and looked to the crowed with 2 minutes to go and here comes my Garmin (THANK YOU!!!! Volker and Karen). Riding the parade through town was great fun and helped calm the nerves… and then the suffer fest began up the long steep road to the first single track. These girls were not messing around after we exited the parade. I pushed a lot harder than I thought was wise but I was able to keep up. We hit the first single track and I knew I was in 3rd place, hopping I could hold that for the next 40 miles. The single track was fun and fast until we hit the famous French Gulch climb slash hike-a-bike. I thought everyone was kidding when they said almost everyone walks this part…REALLY?? Well it’s true, I only saw one person try and ride French Gulch the rest of us pushed our bikes and complained about how steep and miserable this part of the trail is. Reaching the top it is a fabulous feeling and provided a fast, technical decent for miles that makes you smile. We had a great group of Naked Women riders and there is nothing more inspiring on a ride like this to have your team mates cheer you on way out in the wilderness of Breckenridge (this was much needed on lap 2).
I reached the park feeling tired but pretty good and I was holding my third place position. I have to say, lap two holds its challenges as the teams switch riders and you get passed by all these clean, fresh, happy riders who only started on their suffer fest while you are in the depths of the ride. I just needed to survive lap two…keep moving… finish. The wall hit at mile 40 and I slowed my pace but kept moving. Mile 42 was a heartbreaker as I was passed by that gal I passed 30 miles ago…REALLY! I tried with all my might to keep her in my sights but lost her in the next mile. I just lost my 3rd place position (insert violin music here). There is nothing sweeter than coming down the last switchbacks, hearing the crowd cheer and arriving at the finish line. Friends and family cheering you on, tired and exhausted, but happy to have made it. Two minutes behind 3rd place was a little harder to swallow. I am addicted to the endurance rides and the Firecracker is on my list for next year and maybe the Honey Stinger.