Still in the back of my mind I was bummed that I was doing “just” the short race. Its the 40 that everyone comes up here to do. But also in the back of my mind I knew it was the right thing to do.
But as I started my pre ride Friday I was almost convinced I did the wrong thing. The first 4 miles of the 16 is road, then a brief few miles on the Birkie trail, then on to some fire roads. About 8 or 9 miles in I was thinking this was going to be a bit too easy. I was about halfway and only 38 minutes on the Garmin, not going as fast as I can.
Once I pulled off that fire road and back onto the ski trail around mile 9 things changed. Huge climbs. The walking kind. The next two miles were hell for a fat guy on a fat bike. And thats where I pulled the plug on the pre ride, turned around and headed back to Cable. So strategy was set. Do not go too hard in the first half, save it for the second. And I could not have been more right.
So Saturday morn I woke to no pressure. That was nice. Many have been up hours earlier to set their bikes up as close to the front as could be. I did not. But as I casually woke up and lumbered around the cabin I just felt weird about it. After all this was a race. I should be prepping as best as I can to get the best results as I can. But I was not and I felt a little bad about that.
After some oatmeal we were out the door at about 830 and arrived in Cable around 9. About an hour before the race. Surprisingly I got pretty close to the front of my stageing as the pic shows. Showing up an hour sooner would not have made much of a difference so I felt better about that. With the shorter race having less that half of the bikes (still 800+) that the 40 does its just not that big a deal. The 40 has close to 2k bikes. Getting there late is more of a penalty than in the 16 miler. So off we go. I rolled out a little less than halfway back. Maybe 350 to 400. As I would think I made up ground quickly on the roll out. The 29+ wheels\tires were pretty fast once I got them going. I passed at least 100 bikes in the first four miles. And held my own until we got to the climbing.
Thats where this race really started. Hitting the second half of the ski trail I would think I was around the low 300’s.
In my usual Birkie trail fashion, I would blast the downhills and ride the ups as far as I could and grab granny. So many bikes were doing opposite. I swear I would blow by some bikes going 20mph when they were starting the climb in granny gear. Its actually pretty dangerous. With newbies and kids in the mix. Thats kinda how I dumped at Ore to Shore. And I did not disappoint here either. More on that later.
As I mentioned the 9zero7 bike I was riding was not mine anymore. And Mike(the guy I sold it to) was nice enough to let me use it. He took off the small 28 tooth ring ( its a 1X10) and put on the bigger 32 tooth which was fine on the roads but the 32\36 granny was just not low enough for me and these climbs. The climbs that I did grind up had me at such a slow cadence that my knees were starting to hurt. I could have put the 28 tooth back on but opted not to and that was fine by me.
So I carefully picked and chose what hill to climb and what to walk. Really, I think I walked only three. So no big deal. But on the big ones you sometimes have to lose the battle at hand to win the war. There were two hills for sure if I climbed them would have ruined me for the day. One of those climbs I remember from the Fat Bike Birkie.
At some point, maybe 3 miles to go you leave the ski trail and actually hit a bike trail, or a smaller ski trail. Still its a up and down roller coaster. Just as in Ore2Shore, I blasted down a short steep hill only to find a pretty big puddle on the bottom. Maybe 5 feet acrossed. With a bike sitting in the middle of it in granny gear. I veered to the right, lost the front end and down I go in some bushes. Not over the bars or anything. I had time to put my hands down to catch. And the ground was soft so I bounced back up pretty quick but my stem slipped and my bars where facing the wrong way. A quick twist and I was off again. With the bars slightly off. Crazy how much even the slightest offset bothers me.
After a minute of slower riding I got back in the swing. And a minute later I could here the announcer I was so close to the finish. Really, I was just on the other side of the ski hill! Time to put in the big finish effort and off I was, passing several. Here’s where a complete preride would have helped.
As I approached Telemarks grounds we were on the condo’s roads. On the backside of the ski hill. Time to go right? Not.
As I was putting in this finish line effort the trail turns and climbs up the back side of the hill. The entire hill. From bottom to top. Are you frickin kidding me? As I started the first tier of the climb I though it would not be so bad but I looked up and did not see the top. So here I was. A quarter miles from the finish. I could hear what the announcer was saying I was so close. I could smell the food and hear the people cheering. And between me and that was pretty much the biggest climb I have seen all summer. Not exaggerating.
I made it to the second tier with two to go and I was off the bike. Had I known I would not have put in the interval just a few minutes ago. The walk to the top seemed like forever. I think I was on that damn hill five minutes. With all my thoughts. Not good ones.
This last mile for the 16 mile race is harder than the 40. What the hell? I cant wait to see the Garmin data on this one. So I walk halfway up this huge hill, get to the top and look around. Its way up there. And now the second surprise. After making everyone almost puke ( I did see someone doing that) on the top of that hill they sent you straight down. 35 mph with brakes on. All the way down to a hard, off camber right hander that was collecting bikes and riders left and right. I made it thru fine but my wife was there waiting for me to finish and must have counted 30 bikes on the ground in a short time. And not slow getoffs either. She said no way could any tandems slow down and several went right thru the fence into spectators. Many bikes doing the same. The medics were there constantly. We did not see anyone hurt very bad fortunately. But many laid there quite a while before getting up. This spot was about 30 seconds from the finish.
Just a weird way to end the race.So my results are as follows.
414 out of 881 overall
343 male out of 619
37 out of 81 Age 50 to 54
I estimated my time at 1:10 before I saw the climbing on the second half on Friday, then pushed it to 1:20 with a final time of 1:26. That damn last hill.
Pretty much around the 50th percentile all around. I’ll take it.
In closing I was happy with it. For sure I would have been faster on a MTB than a fatbike even tho it was a 29+. Also, being rigid hurt this old man too. My back is still sore. But manageable. Still, on one hand Im glad I did the 16 over the 40. I was still functionable after the race. We took a ride up to Ashland,WI after the race for some sightseeing. No way could I do anything after the 40. On the other hand I felt as tho I dummy’d down a bit on the race. While it was the smart thing to do giving the circumstances I still wish I had the fitness (and the bike) to do the 40. Maybe someday I can do it again.
Thats my thoughts on the race. I’ll cap off the entire weeknd next post.