A Note from Fatty About the GranDonut Race: Remember the Gran Donut Race Report, and how I said I’d post the video as soon as it was available?
Well, it’s available now. Check it out. Right now (although I recommend watching it bigger over on the Vimeo site).
OK, go ahead and watch it again. I’m going to.
Yeah, that was pretty amazing, right? Massive Kudos to Jamie at Daydreamer Cinema for the filming and editing of this. It exceeded my (remarkably high) expectations by two orders of magnitude. And that’s a lot.
A Note from Fatty: This is part of my race report for the the 2012 Breck Epic. My writeups for all parts of this story can be found here:
Backstory AKA Why It Took Me So Long To Get Started On This Story
The 2012 Breck Epic started almost exactly two months ago. Two months. I never take that long to write a race report. In fact, as a rule, I write race reports within a day or two of the event.
But here’s the thing: The Breck Epic wasn’t just a race. It was the one and only thing The Hammer and I did, for six solid days. It absolutely, completely consumed the two of us, and we only barely managed to pull it off.
So for the past couple months, whenever I started thinking, “I need to tell the story of this race,” I’d panic a little. Sort of like I remember panicking when, as a kid, I had to write a “What I Did Last Summer” essay.
There was just too much to tell.
So I’d write about something else. Something smaller, something easier.
But a couple days ago, something that now seems obvious occurred to me: I don’t have to write about the whole Breck Epic all at once. I don’t have to write multiple posts on each day of the event (if I were to write the number of posts per race day that I usually do, the story would be around eighteen posts long).
All I need to do is write a blog post’s-worth of story, each day.
If a story arc emerges, great. If not, oh well. If one of the posts is a top-10 list of things from this race that still haunt my dreams, well, that’s going to be OK too.
So now, after nine paragraphs of throat-clearing, I’m going to start telling this story. At the pace I feel like telling it.
The Night Before
The Hammer and I had just finished the Leadville 100. As in, we had finished it six hours ago. Since then, we had packed all our stuff, wrangled it down the steep stairs of the hotel (The Delaware in Leadville was built before elevators, or something), waited for friends and family to cross the line, and had dinner.
Then we made the drive to Breckenridge. The entire way there, we did not talk about the race course. We also didn’t talk about our hopes for a top finishing place in our category. We didn’t talk about our race strategy, nor what unique challenges racers in the Coed Duo category face.
No, we had larger concerns.
The entire way up, we talked about how — with our incredibly tired legs and bodies — were we going to be able to get our luggage from the truck into the condo we had rented for the week (note that one of the very nicest things about the Breck Epic is that since every stage begins and ends in Breckenridge, you don’t have to move between stages).
We concluded that, if necessary, we’d have to take many, many trips — because we had a ton of gear with us, not knowing what kind of weather the trip would bring — up and down the stairs, carrying whatever we could.
Honestly, we just didn’t know if we could do it. We were already so tired.
The unasked question — unasked because it was so obvious and neither of us knew the answer — was, “If we’re so tired we don’t know how we’re going to get our luggage into our condo, how are we going to do forty miles of racing the next day?”
Or, for that matter, the day after that. And the one after that. Etcetera and so forth.
Plus, there was the matter of my left knee. It hurt, even to walk. I had given everything I had to give in the Leadville 100, and was worried about how I’d do the next time I got on a bike.
We pulled into town, found a space in the parking garage below the condo we had rented, and encountered a miracle:
Luggage trolleys. And elevators.
We both started laughing. And then, maybe a little bit, crying too.
We woke up the next morning, took turns pooping, and then suited up for the day.
We tried to make breakfast: scrambled eggs with mushrooms and onions and tomatoes, all wrapped up in a nice warm tortilla. One of our favorite breakfasts.
“I don’t feel like eating,” The Hammer said, picking at the breakfast she would have — on a normal day — snarfed down instantly.
“I’m having a hard time eating, too,” I said. But we both knew that we had to eat. That we were already working with a pretty massive calorie deficit from the previous day.
So we made a bargain with each other. We’d make ourselves eat at least half our breakfast.
We were both walking stiffly. I, however, was walking stifflier.
“We’ll loosen up once we start riding, we told each other. Hey, maybe it was true. Neither of us had ever gone on any ride the day after the Leadville 100, much less on a race.
To myself, I thought, “Well, I’ve at least got a couple of advantages. I’ll be racing with gears, for one thing, so I can spin if I need to.”
“And,” I thought, even more secretly, “I’m faster than The Hammer. So going at her race pace won’t be too hard on me.”
We put together our drop bags, which would be waiting for us at two aid stations along the route. Extra clothes.
Salted nut rolls. PBJ sandwiches. Coke. Honey Stinger waffles, chews, and gels. [Update: The Hammer has reminded me that on the first day of the race, we didn't pack any of these things I have stricken out. My memory is faulty.]
We went down to the garage and got out our bikes. The Hammer would be riding the same bike she rode at Leadville: her hardtail Superfly. I’d be riding the bike I rode at Leadville last year: my HT Stumpjumper. In reserve, we had two more bikes: my singlespeed Stumpjumper, and the Superfly 100. So even if we had a bike or two completely self-destruct, we’d be able to keep going.
We rode our bikes — s-l-o-w-l-y — to the starting line, arriving about twenty minutes before the race was to began. We were already taking starting times a lot more casually than at Leadville (where we were set up 45 minutes before the gun went off at a minimum).
To my surprise, there were guys I knew there: Mo Lettvin, a guy I met more than ten years ago when he and I both rode the Cascade Creampuff, then became riding buddies and friends when we both wound up at Microsoft. Mo looked great and had an easy, relaxed look about him. He was here just for the experience: to ride gorgeous Breckenridge singletrack for six days, straight.
Then I saw Dean Cahow, a buddy I met and rode with at Leadville every year for more than a decade. Except now he’s given Leadville up in favor of the Breck Epic. He was planning to ride a singlespeed this year. And he wasn’t alone. There were a lot of singlespeeds here.
I began to develop a theory: the reason I won the SS division in Leadville is because all the fast SS riders had elected to ride the Breck Epic, instead.
With a few minutes to go, I wondered: Why don’t I have the pre-race pit in my stomach? Shouldn’t I need to be peeing one last time right about now?
Evidently not. Evidently, I thought to myself, pre-race panic takes more energy than I have right now.
And then Mike McCormack started the race. The big question The Hammer and I had — could we do this? — was about to get answered, one way or the other.
Which is a good place to pick up tomorrow.