So I'm hangin' down south these days in the bike mecca that is Asheville, NC - and I even have a job that pays me to ride bikes. Rad. Not sure how that happened but I'm pretty stoked on it. And the best part is that after my slow start I'm starting to not suck so bad. How would my newfound quasi-fitness fare at the Fool's Gold 100?
Well, for a little while I thought it might be my day. I was never close to good enough to get on the podium with these guys, but for the first 30 miles or so I was actually racing, and opposed to surviving the brutal course. Big difference there in terms of fun factor for sure. In fact, the first 30 miles or racing was the most fun I've had in a NUE race.
Things kick off with a long gravel climb. Long. But I managed to stay with the lead group for a little while, at least until it was down to 8 guys or so. Then I dropped off and rode my pace just outside the top 10 for the rest of the first 10 miles of climbing. Then we hit some rolling stuff where you could lay down some power, followed by a screaming, loose descent and some really flowy singletrack to aid 2. I used all that to move up to about 10th 20 miles in.
Then things stopped going to well. I suffered up the climb out of aid 2, which was surprisingly long and hard. I tried to stuff some food in me, but that only did so much. Then I made a wrong turn and lost probably 5+ minutes. Then my chain broke. By that point I was pretty mentally exhausted and I still had 60 miles to race, so I spent some time hanging out trailside fixing my chain and eating a payday. Yum.
Lap two was more or less survival. I went I pace I knew I could hold and just tried not to think about how far I was from the finish. I raging thunderstorm rolled through - and the resulting chain suck meant I could only use my big ring (a 36t). Major bummer. Then my cassette worked loose. A quick stop at aid 8 fixed that, and I limped in at 9:50, pretty much destroyed. Funny, when I was racing it didn't feel like a long string of mishaps - just racing along. It was good enough for 20th though, which is my best ever NUE result, and someone claimed afterward that there was 16,000 feet of climbing, which makes me feel pretty darn good about finishing period.
Too bad I'm not doing PMSR in a few weeks. The form is finally coming on (I guess that was the plan all along)....but it'll be a fun fall of coaching and riding Pisgah instead. Maybe I can sneak the Swank in though......