Read about how Heidi Gurov redeemed herself on a course that she had previously had a DNF at with a fantastic overall finish.
If there’s one day on the bike that pains me off the most, it was DNF-ing the Laramie Enduro in 2013. So this year was all about redeeming myself, and finishing my “hometown” (but nationally-renowed) mountain bike endurance race and proving to myself that it could be done. (Like the lovely Brittany explained last year in her race report, the Laramie Enduro has nothing to do with the modern day definition of “enduro,” instead it’s a 111km endurance race in southeastern Wyoming where the climbing indeed counts 100%.)
I won’t lie, it was hard this year. It hurt, sometimes very badly. I’m pretty sure around mile 12 or 14 I was thinking about just stopping. I had a good start, climbed well and faster than it seemed I had before. Racing open/pro category has it’s perks in that the course was really clear so the first section of single track I didn’t have to worry about traffic and racers that couldn’t make the one long steep climb (and the few that walked moved quickly out of the way). I sat in 5th place until shortly after Aid 1, much to my surprise (I didn’t know where I was placing wise until about mile 52). I was getting concerned because my heart rate was never dropping below 175-180bpm, and I knew that was just too much to sustain for this race length, even though it felt like I was pacing myself well and trying to spin easier gears. Then I started to get giddy inside that I was actually going to finish this race and finally be able to throw out this piece of baggage.
I pulled into Aid 2 and a volunteer ran off with my camelback to refill it while I stood there feeling useless (AMAZING volunteers at this event, to say the least!). She said I had drank 3/4 of the 100oz bladder, which I was happy to hear since I was using Tailwind so it was my main nutrition source. I was quickly back on my way to enjoy the speedy downhill and tailwind to Aid 3. I crossed the half way point of 35 miles at 3 hours 13 minutes (including stopped time), and I couldn’t believe how fast it was all going by!
I came into Aid 3 and the volunteers told me I was in 4th place. Now mind you, I really had no idea where I was at this point, and I wasn’t “racing” the race. I was actually annoyed they told me, as it changed the dynamic for me from “just finish” to “hmmm, maybe try to do well.” Dammit, do I actually have to race now?! After a quick watermelon slice and dumping some more Tailwind into my water I had refilled at Aid 2, I was on my way, determined to not let any other open women catch me.
Things continued to go well and soon enough the bits of single track were over and it was time for another never ending grind on double track and primitive roads up to Aid 4. Aid 4… my nemesis. The point where I called my parents to come pick me up in 2013. As long as I moved my bike past Aid 4 I knew my day was complete. I got an amazing surprise as I came up to the road crossing and saw my boyfriend on the side of the road! I’m not kidding when I say I almost peed my pants in happiness! He decided to come spend the afternoon chasing me around the last few aid stations as a cheerleader! Few sips of cold water and a hug, and he set me off on my way with a “you’re in 6th or 7th” place! I just lost it. Seeing Aid 4, seeing him, feeling the support, I bawled all the way to the aid station. Goodness endurance mountain biking turns me into a mush ball, just ask the gals who were at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo with me!
Quick refill of the Camelbak at Aid 4 and I set off. OK, here it goes… 18 miles left! The Laramie Enduro is (sarcastically) lovely in the sense that all the hard stuff is in the last 18 miles. Because there’s nothing like having to have technical skills at mile 65 of a 68 mile race… The first few miles went OK, but soon stuff turned into long conga line hike-a-bikes up steep hills, and then not so steep hills. It was hot, hovering around 90 degrees with no wind. I actually complained about there not being wind! Aid 4 to Aid 5 on the course is simply mental demoralizing (and for some, physically demoralizing, too). My granny gear became intolerable to turn over and I felt ruined. Nonetheless, I repeated “Keep moving” in my head, whether it was on foot or on bike. It seemed like Aid 5 would never come, and of course you had to climb a bunch to get there.
Once I happened upon Aid 5 I knew there were six miles was left… a horrid six miles. The most frustrating part of the rest of the course is that I’m super familiar with it all. I ride and race on it all the time. I know how fast I can ride each part. Headquarters Climb is a toughy, but I’ve always cleared it. I found myself walking and it was humbling because I know what I normally can do, but with 65 miles under my belt I knew what was suddenly impossible, but it bothered me terribly that it was impossible. I dragged myself and bike up the climb, step after step. I tried to power on as much as I could, and soon I was descending the single track to the trailhead and down the dirt road to the finish line. Funny enough, I had been pushing the granny gear slowly for the past two hours, and yet I was turning the big chain ring and almost my hardest gear sprinting down the finishing straight.
I did it! 6th place in Open Women in 7 hours 43 minutes (and 36 seconds for those really counting)! That’s it… the DNF Pain of 2013 was gone. I came back and kicked the course’s butt and proved that I could do it – it took me 7 hours to reach Aid 4 in 2013, and 7 hours and 43 minutes to do the whole darn thing this year! Now it was time for staring down food not sure I could eat (I wasn’t hungry), wondering when I’d finally pee, and to double fist a beer in one hand and a lemonade in another!