First of all, watch this video—>
Where do I even begin…
Sometime back in January I decided to send in my postcard to ride the Almanzo100. (If you didn’t watch the video above, do so now.)
Why? Well, first of all, 100 miles of gravel and climbing hills in southern MN sounds great on -10F day when you haven’t seen the sun in 30 days. Second, I thought it would give me motivation to ride the trainer a lot this winter. Lastly, it seemed like a good early training tool for the Triple Bypass Ride I am signed up for in July.
Well, winter came and went. (It is gone now right?!) AND, before I knew it, it was May. My longest outdoor ride was 56 miles and that was a week ago. It was horrible, my ass hurt, my legs were cashed, I bonked, and it was on flat, paved rode! I hadn’t rode my mountain bike since Chequamegon40 in September of last year, and this was my bike to ride for 100 miles on May 17th. All I could think was Almanzo would be a disaster…and WTF was I thinking signing up for this?!
Friday afternoon, Ryan and I made the trip to Spring Valley, MN. Set up camp with our new camper (BTW, it is awesome!) and head to the city campground to get our race numbers —>
Saturday morning came with the normal pre-race or big event jitters. Meaning, I had to go to the bathroom 3-4 times and force myself to eat. UGH! I hate that. Ryan and I met up with some friends and rode to the start. We got there just in time for the National Anthem, find a spot in the line up, and to sing Happy Birthday to Chris Skogen’s son, Jack :) Seriously, what kid wouldn’t want 1300+ people singing to them! Loved it. For the first time since signing up for the event, I felt like no matter what happened, I would be okay with my day.
The start reminded me a lot of Chequamegon, but without the rush (at least at the back of the pack anyway) or crashes. To sum up the course, it is a lot like this all day long—>
I wish you could feel the wind! Seriously, I can’t tell you how demoralizing wind is. It. Is. Awful. That along with hill, after hill, after hill…
What can I say? I wasn’t prepared for an off-road century in May. I wanted to quit when we hit Preston, MN (about 40 miles in), but my partner in crime Joanna and I had a deal. No bitching til mile 40. Re-evaluate the situation at mile 60. Shoot for 80 and hope for 100.
Around mile 60, we re-evaluated. Our pace was slow. There was no way we would finish in the 10 hours we hoped for. There were talks of faking a mechanical. “I wish there was a knife along side the road that we could slash our tires with.” At one point we even heard gun shots and hoped for a stray bullet. For real. Shit gets crazy when you are on your bike for 7+ hours and only have consumed water, electrolytes, and energy foods.
This is our pre-race and “failure photo” at mile 62—>
When my Garmin died at mile 61, my heart felt heavy. It was over. We chugged on for another 11 miles. Finishing our day at mile 72, right outside the campground we were staying at. HA. We didn’t plan it that way, but it worked.
The only data I have :( Note to self: get a new Garmin that lasts longer than 7 hours.
We laughed. We almost cried. We met some awesome people along the way. We were out there on the saddle for 7+ hours. We left nothing on the road. No shame. We came to do something incredible and we did. Strong. Simple. 48 hours later. I wish I would have done more. Our finish promise to each other was to not sign up again next January. Well, that has already been thrown to the curb. Almanzo100 we will meet again and this time, we will shake Mr. Chris Skogen’s hand at the finish line.