May 2011 Archives

Royal 162

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162 (actually, 157) miles of southeast Minnesota gravel roads.

90 people thought it was a good idea this winter to sign up for this.

Given the forecast for rain and cold on race day, only 57 folks showed up at registration.

Only 25 managed to cross the finish line. 

I was the last to do so before the "official" cut-off time of 15 hours.

Now, I'm sure there was a great reason I signed up for this. Probably something about fitness, health and personal accomplishment fit for the cheery pages of "Bicycling" magazine or somesuch. 

Those folks of the same mindset probably did the sensible thing and stayed at home and rode their trainers. 

Only those with darker, ulterior motives found themselves in the parking lot of the Spring Valley high school parking lot at 7am on a cold rainy morning. The usual, lighthearted, startline banter was kept to a minimum. These men and women were here to commit unspeakable acts against man, machine and soul in hopes of finding just where their breaking point was. 

And many did. 

I love when success or failure in a race is decided not by how many hours I trained, or how crisp and clean my new whiz-bang gruppo shifts, but by things like keeping my route instructions from disintegrating in the rain and how many pieces of pizza I can shove in my mouth at once. 

Thankfully, I've actually endured worse conditions on the back of a motorcycle of all things, so I was able to stay pretty positive through the whole event. As long as I kept moving, I stayed warm. Quitting actually became too complicated of an option after the last major city at mile 60. It would mean having to find shelter, making contact with my teammate who hopefully finished his 100 mile ride, and organizing transportation back to the start.  No, it was just easier to keep the pedals turning over and plodding down the course. 

This race became especially tough as I essentially had to do the entire thing solo. There was no drafting to help me through the cold winds. Everybody near the back of the pack was dropping out of the race. I saw all of two riders during the last 100 miles.

I finished out the last 10 miles in the dark, 17 minutes shy of the official cut off time of 15 hours.

Of course, the problem I face now is this- I still haven't found my limit. I've still never DNFed a race. What do I do next?

(Photo courtesy of Craig Linder)