"How can something so fun hurt so much?" Dan Durland
One of the exposed sections of the course (borrowed from race web site)
I was really looking forward to DawnTillDusk. The first mountain bike race of the year, and with all the running I’ve been doing, I had no idea where I was technically or physically on the bike. I knew I was getting dropped on group rides, but those rides usually followed a hard run. I really wanted to see how I’d do rested and in a racing frame of mind.
So a small contingent of ProCycling: Dan & Kara Durland (Single Speed Super Studs), Charlie Dunn, Roswitha, Max, and myself drove the eight hours to Gallup, NM and rode a lap of the race course on Friday, the day before the race. Thirteen + miles of great single track that offers a little of everything; rough rocky sections, smooth fast sections, steep climbs, technical descents, fast descents, and exposed sections with tight switchbacks. An absolute dream course! I highly recommend it.
The race started in mass on a dirt road that took us about 6 miles to the back side of the course. There were approximately 125 solo riders plus teams of various makeup (duo, 3, 4 person etc). The purpose of the road was to get everyone separated before we hit the single track. Once on the single track we stayed there for the rest of the day. The start was fast and on a rutted dirt road with a couple hundred mountain bikers riding in a pack, naturally there were crashes. One guy went down hard right next to me about three miles into it.
I was in good position once we hit the single track and my strategy was to keep steady, ride efficient, and only make pit stops every second lap. I figured if I could get eight or nine laps in at 5 minutes a pit stop, that’s 40 – 45 minutes of lost time. My goal was to cut that by at least half. So the first four laps went pretty smooth and I built somewhat of a lead in the Masters 50+ category. The course is extremely busy requiring full focus at all times. There is no place to recover or let your guard down. By the 5th lap fatigue started setting in and sometimes I lost focus which usually ended in overshooting a turn or crash.
As time went on the fatigue and pain increased and so did the mistakes. My laps were getting slower and 2nd & 3rd place were closing in on me. I crashed in the 6th lap hurting the same wrist I broke last fall and by the 7th lap my pedals felt like they were burning a hole through my shoes. Hills that I was previously climbing in my big and middle chain ring I was now climbing in the middle, granny, or pushing. As we finished the 8th lap, Roswitha, who provided perfect support throughout informed me there was only three minutes between 1st 2nd & 3rd place, and I was in second. This news, along with a couple Advils brought me out of the feel sorry for myself mode and I decided this was a one lap race. As far as I was concerned the eight previous laps never happened and the race just started. I gave it everything. I came up on the leader barely pedaling up a hill and passed as hard as I could to discourage him from challenging. I opened a gap quickly as he wasn’t responding. This fueled the fire and for the next hour I rode all out and for some reason all the pain I was feeling in the previous laps didn’t seem so intense. In the end I won the 50+ Masters category by 4 minutes with 9 laps in 11 hrs and 24 Min. Dan absolutely smoked, winning the single speed category with 10 laps. Kara also kicked butt winning the female SS with the second fastest time of all females with or without gears. Charlie had a great race bringing in 4th in the SS category. A great showing for Team ProCycling!
All in all a great weekend. This race certainly wasted me and recovery has been kind of slow. I’m now rethinking the Collegiate Peaks 50 mile run(in less than 3 weeks from now) followed one week later with the Mesa Verde 12 hour mountain bike race. I think I may have to drop one of them from the schedule. This ultra distance stuff takes a lot out ya! Next week a group of us are headed to Moab to ride the White Rim Trail in a day. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a lot of good pictures.