The bike ride with 1000 people was insane and epic. I learned a ton today and despite how amazing the trails are out here, I honestly feel like the race scene in Missouri is fantastic. Just a few summary thoughts of the experience today:
I had a good place on the starting line and was next to the coach of Ft Lewis Mountain bike team (real deal dude who rides with Lance). JHK, Jesse LaLonde (actually, someone told me it wasn't him), Carl Decker, Ned-fucking-Overend, and many others were all nearby. The race began with a neutral start and a cruise down main street before taking a right turn and putting the hammer down.
As I had said in the course description part 1, the course began with a long steady climb leading to a crazy steep section of switch backs with the highest point on the course the first summit. Up until the hike-a-bike section I was feeling really good and was super psyched with where I was riding. I think I was probably in the top 30 or 40 riders and with the competition mentioned previously, I was stoked. Then the hike-a-bike came and I basically hiked like a small child, taking frequent stops to let people pass me who were able to run while I was basically crawling.
The next section was a truly insane ridge. If you've ever ridden lake binder, and know the rocky turtle shell section, imagine those rocks x5 or x6 with a cliff on the side and a ton of people around you who actually know the trail and had ridden it a bunch (or were totally pro). This is the part of the race where I began to feel a bit bummed with my company. As I said, I was riding well, and the people I was with were either good and from Colorado or excellent mountain bikers from wherever. Anyway, there were a ton of sections I didn't ride and kept trying to let people pass, but of the 50-100 or so people that passed I bet 4 or 5 called out "passing" or "on your left". Instead, I heard numerous people bitching about how congested the trail was and how that was screwing up their riding. Really? SSWC....with 1000 riders from all over the place and you're bitching about congestion? Like I said, I was pretty bummed. Of course, I don't mean to make a blanket statement about all the riders, but it was a good example of how a handful of bad attitudes can make it a bit harder to have a good time and stay positive.
At the bottom of Raider Ridge, the course was relentless, up and down with multiple sections of trail that I couldn't ride, but I ended up having a serious blast and riding with some friendly people from Leadville and Boulder (which, made me pretty psyched I could climb with them).
One thing I'm taking away, is how incredibly the majority of the people I was around could descend. If mountain biking was like karate, I'd have a blue or brown belt on descents and most of the people I was around had black. They were amazingly fast.
I have no idea how I finished, but my time was somewhere around 2 hours and 2o minutes. I'll find out tonight how I placed, but honestly I don't really care.
There was 3200ft of climbing on this course and it ended with hand-offs of Oskar blues canned beer as soon as I crossed the line. That, in combination with no flats or mechanicals and I'm one happy (but tired) boy.