If I had to describe this weekend in a single word, it would be “EPIC”. On Friday, team was all packed up, ready to trek over to Michigan. The weather was so beautiful we had to take advantage of the gorgeous day and get on our bikes. Once we arrived in Hastings, MI we picked up our packets, checked-into the hotel and jumped on our bikes for a quick evening ride.
Then race day was upon us, and I was all ready to go in full kit, waterproof boots, gloves, glasses, and pockets full of fuel to get me across the finish line and a small flask of bourbon for after. I pulled out with Wave 1 holding my own on my single gear. The weather was working with us for the first 10 miles and then the rain started to come down. This was my first long distance race and one of the hardest things I have done in my lifetime thus far. It was hard not just physically but mentally as well. My race horse that day was my All City Nature Boy Disc with my 18t/38t gearing, which is high but I was trying to compensate for the hills and force myself into a steady pace. As the rain began coming down I could feel the water coming through my helmet and all the way down my boots, I focused on one thing and one thing only: finishing every mile of this race.
As I continued going up and down each hill and saw the miles adding up on my Garmin the more confident I felt that I was going to do this. Suddenly I hear a scratching sound with my brakes, I got some gravel stuck rubbing on my brake pads. Once the sound stops I realized my brakes are no longer operational as I was reaching Sager Rd and going 30+ MPH down the descent and I notice that I am getting closer to a fellow cyclist and I can’t get by them on their left so I try to sneak by on the right. I made a huge mistake. The trail disappeared as I flew over my handlebars and into the side of the muddy ditch. I shake it off, get my bearings, and jump back on my bike.
I learned something that day, something very important and something I don’t want to ever experience again: leg cramps. I stopped off at the water station on Mullen Rd to refill my bottles and the longer I waited to get back on the road, the faster the cramps began to creep up my legs. Experiencing these cramps was so intense I couldn’t even stand up let alone pedal. By the time, I arrived at Head Lake Rd and Wilkins Rd my legs weren’t going to shut up and I needed to make a vital decision: I needed to decide if I want to finish or throw in the towel. This was one of the hardest choices for me, as at this point I was at mile 26 – do I go left and to the finish line in 10 miles or do I go right and suffer through an additional 46 miles? I hadn’t had to DNF (Did Not Finish) so this would be my first time. I made the left turn and continued while I kept blocking out the pain in my legs. I knew I made the right decision even though I didn’t want to believe it. When the finish line was in my eye sight I pedaled faster with each stroke. After I crossed the finish line I went to the bike tent and tried to find someone to take me to the hotel so I can get some dry clothes. My friend Bryan drove me there, as I was uncontrollably shaking the entire time. Changing and stretching out my legs left me feeling so much better, and we decided to head back to the race to cheer for everyone else as they were finishing.
- Bring dry clothes even though the hotel is only a mile away
- Communicate with cyclists while passing
- Know when to drink water and eat
- Remember you paid for this!