A “Hey, Come Watch a Movie With Me, Ask Me a Question, and Get Awesome Free Stuff” Note from Fatty: This Thursday, as part of the Utah Bike Summit, I’ll be at the Jordan Commons Megaplex for a 7:00pm viewing of Race Across the Sky: 2010 Leadville Trail 100. I’m going to be participating in a Q&A session following the movie, and will be bringing awesome schwag from Twin Six, PRO Bar, and Citizen Pictures (the makers of the movie) to hand out. If you’re even remotely local, buy tickets and come on out. The 15 seconds during which I’m in the film are truly inspiring. Ha.
RAWROD (Ride Around White Rim in One Day) is — as far as I’m concerned — the official start of Spring. I’ve done this ride more times than I can count. Really, I have. I don’t have any idea how many times I’ve ridden this 100-mile mountain bike loop near Moab, Utah.
I’ve written about riding RAWROD with friends. I’ve written about nearly being the victim of catastrophic biological functions while riding it. I’ve gone to court because of throwing rocks off a cliff at RAWROD. I’ve made a pretty-darned-long video of the RAWROD experience.
But this year, I did it more easily than I ever have before. In fact, there were times when it felt pretty close to effortless. Which came as a bit of a surprise, because a lot of other people talked about how bad the weather — rain and wind — was and how deep the sand was for much of the course.
The night before RAWROD started as it always does — and always should: with bratwurst. Grizzly Adam talks about this in his post today, from which I’m stealing a photo:
(Please ignore the Boca burgers grilling over on the left side of the screen; just because oatmeal has been shaped into a hamburger-patty-shape doesn’t make it look or taste like a burger.)
Then most folks got to their night of little sleep and lots of listening to the wind crush their tents. The Runner and I drove out to our hotel. So yeah, I’m soft. But I slept great and got a shower the night before the ride, not to mention use of a toilet the morning of the ride (which is very very important to me, for reasons I don’t think I need to go into).
When we got to the start of the ride on Saturday morning at 7:00, the signs weren’t promising. It was cold. The sky was dark, and looked like rain.
But I bravely got on my bike and began the ride, The Runner at my side, her son The IT Guy staying with us.
We rode for an hour, trying our very hardest to ignore the fact that the weather was getting progressively worse. Specifically, it started to rain.
And then it began to rain harder.
And then it began to snow.
And I admit — I can admit things like this because I am a confident person and am unafraid of what others might think of me — there was a moment when I considered bailing out on the ride and calling it a day.
The Runner and The IT Guy were considering similar options.
And the truth is we — along with KanyonKris — actually turned around and rode back to the campsite, feeling too cold, wet and miserable to go on. “What’s the point?” I asked. “I’m not out here today because I want to prove I can do this ride. I’m not out here to train. I’m out here to have fun, and I’m not having fun.”
As you will see, however, we not only finished the ride, but we did it all together, in grand style, and — this may sound like boasting, but I swear I’m just being honest — feeling totally fresh and strong.
Fast Start for a Restart
By the time we got back to the campsite, it had been nearly 35 miles and 2.5 hours since we had started the ride.
Then we (The Runner, The IT Guy, and I) had a change of heart. We changed into dry clothes and — while Kanyon Kris made the sensible decision to head on home — started the ride over, right from the beginning.
It was a bold move, but we agreed: we had what it takes — although just barely — to start over and do the entire loop. Heck, if we really pushed ourselves, we might even catch the group, now at least two hours ahead.
The Runner, The IT Guy (who, for convenience’s sake, I shall hereafter refer to as “Blake”) and I took off, settling into a formation that would not change for the entire day: Blake in front setting a blistering pace, The Runner and I riding side-by-side a short distance behind.
Clearly, Blake was on a mission to catch the group, and was going much faster than I had ever seen him bike before. I raised an eyebrow and said to The Runner, “If he can go this fast at Leadville, he’s not only going to finish, he’s going to get the big buckle.”
Staring intently ahead, keeping pace with Blake, The Runner agreed.
As we rode in our tight bunch, I couldn’t help but notice — I wasn’t at all winded. Sure, the rough terrain jostled me around — there’s no avoiding that — but I was breathing easily. I rarely needed a drink, and the food in my jersey remained untouched.
Yes, I was aware that it was a long ride and that if I went too hard for too long I could run out of gas, but that seemed a far-off prospect. The three of us had endless power, and we weren’t afraid to show it off.
It continued to rain, but now it didn’t matter. I didn’t feel it, and I swear I wasn’t getting wet.
Even as we flew past Musselman Arch and across the floor of the White Rim, I thought to myself, “This may be the first time I’ve done this ride where I’ve had the energy to look around,” and it was astounding.
“I need to spend more time with my head up instead of looking at my front wheel for hours on end,” I noted to myself. In fact, I believe I’m going to make that my primary goal for riding this year: enjoy myself and look around.
That said, we continued at a ridiculously fast pace.
As we reached White Crack (don’t even bother making a joke about the name of the place, they’ve all been done), we caught the main group of riders — a remarkable achievement, I think you’ll agree, considering it wasn’t even time for lunch.
That would come at Vertigo Void.
“Why is it called Vertigo Void?” asked Blake, as we rolled to a stop. “It looks just like every other cliff around here.”
“Come on over to the edge,” I said. Then — as I always do, I crawled the final several feet to the edge, laid on my stomach and looked down. Blake followed suit.
“Oh, now I get it,” Blake said. Because from that position you can see that you are on an overhang that goes back further than you might care to consider. And the drop is 400 feet straight down.
The weather had cleared up some; everyone agreed it was now really quite a nice day for biking. New clouds were gathering, however, and we knew that it would rain again soon. So we gathered our stuff and began the second half of the ride, still feeling good and strong.
I don’t mean to boast. Really, I don’t. But The Runner, Blake, and I did things on this ride that I would never have believed possible. All three of us cleaned Murphy’s Hogback and just kept going. Then all three of us cleaned Hardscrabble Hill, where we waited for Kenny to catch up.
Yes, that’s right. We waited for Kenny to catch up.
As we dropped down Hardscrabble, Blake — who had been pushing a relentless pace the entire day — commented, “I think I’m running out of gas.”
“It’s just a few more miles,” I replied. “Don’t back off now; just keep going.”
And to Blake’s credit, he did not back off. He continued to push the pace.
We hit miles and miles of deep sand, but while others got off their bikes and walked, we kept riding.
And then, finally, we hit the big, final climb of the day. Horsethief. And while I’d like to go on dramatically about how difficult it was to climb, it just wasn’t. The three of us rode up to the top as effortlessly as we had ridden the whole day: Blake in front, The Runner and I slightly behind.
We finished. Strong, and as one of the first groups of people. Plus, we had gone 135 miles, instead of the 100 everyone else had ridden that day.
Pretty darned impressive, if you ask me.
PS: I should probably mention that after biking the first 35 miles — 17.5 miles out, and then another 17.5 miles back to the campsite — we got off our bikes and rode the remaining 100 miles in a truck, as the Sag Wagon for everyone else. A minor point, right?