I don’t know what I was thinking, volunteering to help promote the State Games of Michigan Mountain Bike Race and also signing up to race just 7 days after putting on one of my largest and most draining bike races, the Lumberjack 100. No backing out now I kept thinking, just delegate various jobs to volunteers and I will be OK. Wrong! I spent 5-6 hours on my feet Friday preparing the course and then attending the opening ceremonies that night. Up to late and one to many beers made Saturday morning a challenge. I didn’t have to race until 12:30 p.m. but I did have to help with the race from 9:00-12:00 which just added to my fatigue level.
Scott told me to line up on the right for a clean line through the sandy start. I was behind one or two others on the right side. The start went well, no hole shot but I was riding fast and keep the heart rate high for the 3/4 mile gradual climb. I climbed the “Wall” without a dismount even though it was loose as hell from a hundred racers before me. I was feeling pretty cocky about now and then everything started to shut down or catch up to me. Was it the heat? The long day of Friday? Last weeks Lumberjack event? Maybe all of it I thought. People will understand if I quit. Yeah, I am done, I am going to quit after the first lap, 5.67 freaking miles is all I can muster. The crowd was cheering me on, clapping, ringing bells when I came through. Great, I can’t quit now, I kept thinking of Jeff’s race report where he had a bad day but wouldn’t quit, Founders doesn’t quit when things get tough. My teammates just rode 100 miles of pain I created at the Lumberjack course last weekend. How can I quit after 5.67 miles? I kept telling myself, just one more lap. I will quit after two laps. My cleats were not working great, there is an excuse. My chain made a breaking sound as I climbed the “Wall” again. But the damn thing didn’t break. I was praying for a mechanical.
Finally Jurrien Davison from Hup United caught up to me. We both felt like crap and discussed how we would just ride to finish, turn back the throttle and just have a recreational ride. That lap I followed Jurrien and matched his pace, we were chatting the whole way. Mentally that was my shortest lap, maybe not on the clock, but time went by fast with Jurrien. About 1/2 way though our last lap together I cramped big time, I had felt them coming on for the last 30 minutes so I was drinking tons to help try and prevent them, even got an E-Cap hand up from Cathy but I think it was too late. Jurrien suggested I take 4 of his Sport Legs. He stopped racing to help me. How cool is that? I insisted he roll on without me. Now I just had to finish half a lap and keep that white and red jersey dude from passing me. We talked but I didn’t have the courage to ask if he was in my age group. I didn’t want him to know, he might challenge me. We exchange places a few times and I grabbed the freaking granny gear for most of the climbs in hopes of evading the cramps. Walked the “Wall” finally, no shame this lap. I think that was the last I saw of white and red.
So glad to be done! I finished, Jeff will be proud, Founders will be proud, and then someone says your second place in 50+. What!? No way, I swear there were 10 of us 50+ racers on the racer list. Nope, they tell me, only three. Second out of three and 1st gets me by 30+ minutes. Not pretty but I get a silver medal in the State Games, so what if it is silly, I will take it, better than quiting and going home with nothing.
Founders Alger Racing took home lots of hardware including Wade who had to swap out a front fork and 29er wheel turning his 26″ bike into a 69er then hitting the start line with no pre-ride or familiarity with the set up. Gabe flatted and finished on someone else’s bike to hang on for 4th in the tough Expert SS class! Sue crashed hard and took herself out of the race but put in a great effort after last weeks huge Lumberjack completion.
Scott Thenikl-Gold Sport 30-39
Shawn Cowley-5th place Sport 3039
Nicola Fester-Gold Womens Expert SS
Gabe Niehof-4th Mens Expert SS
Josh Hogeterp-Bronze Expert 30-39
Wade Bagnall-Bronze Expert 40-49
Rick Plite-Silver Expert 50+
Dennis Murphy-Bronze Expert 50+