Dale Kicker asked me on Friday evening if I was racing Saturday. I said no way. Riding yes, racing no. After a couple of seasons of a century ride or two, it doesn't put the fear into me like it used to. On the contrary, I probably take it a tad too cavalier. 100 miles? My longest ride so far is 34 miles, so this should be no biggie right?
I've been riding my new Warbird a fair bit (for me), just not a whole lot in any one shot, nor particularly hard. Starting two days after ski season ended I put 379 miles on the new steed, mostly gravel. My longest ride however was a 34 mile road ride. I just needed a mere tripling of my long ride to complete the MGC 100. Right or wrong, I wasn't at all concerned about finishing, but I knew I wasn't ready to race anything.
We enjoyed the Adventure and Tech night and good company on Friday night. We camped out in SCF Friday night and were up and rolled downhill to CyclovaXC Saturday morning ready for an adventure.
While I knew this ride was going to feel incredibly remote, I also wasn't overly concerned as we were never going to be more than a couple of miles from residences and/or cell service. With the later portion of the ride being littered with opportunities to refill on water and other fuel I felt comfortable going reasonably minimal.
Shiny red Warbird: Clement MSO 40mm tires, stock everything else
Custom designed/fabricated frame bag: pump, various gus, Honey Stinger Waffles (ginger snap flavor), turkey sandwich, beef jerky, small bottle of chainlube and a rag, zip ties, small first aid kit, and TP
Saddle bag: spare tube, bike multitool, patch kit, tire levers
CyclovaXC Alternate Orange kit: Phone in the back pocket, cue sheets in the back pocket, Brooks arm warmers
Garmin 920xt: 70 mile course loaded... not very helpful for the 100 mile course... so much for being a techie. Thankfully the course markings and riding company made it pretty much fool proof.
I ate less than half the food, never used any of the tools, referenced the cue sheets once, went through 5 water bottles total. So I carried more than I needed, but was a comfortably prepared Boy Scout.
The roll-out was cool and calm. I almost immediately noticed my Garmin had the wrong course on it. I let the group roll ahead a bit as I fiddled with my watch to confirm I really didn't have the right course on the watch at all. By the time we reached River Road there was already a separation. Despite all of my instincts, I held back and didn't chase after the lead group. I had a pleasant roll down that warm-up pavement with Ben Jonjak, and the Bruns Bros. As we rolled off the end of River Road Ben held back and I continued on with the BBs sampling the ensuing gravel and sand. As we were approaching Evergreen we could see a small group pouring on the steam closing in on us.
Turns out it was the Gentle hammer who arrived fashionably late to the start, and course preriders Nate and Jason. We rode together as a loose group for the next fifteen miles through the Sand Barrens and Fish Lake State Wildlife Area. We had swallowed up a few of the earlier group as they came unstrung from the lead pack. We ourselves got a little strung out and I ended up rolling into Grantsburg with just Greg and one of the BBs where we found the majority of the lead pack still refueling and chilling out.
A fairly large group rolled out of Grantsburg together including Frank, Gentle, and Mike Phernetton. After traversing the rugged area around the airport and then starting into head north into Crex with what I could tell was going to be a nasty headwind when we turned East, I noticed the large group had already splintered. I was either going to hang with these guys I knew were definitely out of my league or be left swinging in the wind by myself.
Crex was beautiful. Unfortunately I spent a lot of it staring at my stem or the wheel in front of me trying to hang on. I tried to do my share on the front, but I slipped out of line a few times. As we left Crex and were headed for Siren we picked up Mr. Gravel Conspiracy as well as one or two others.
Frank made the executive decision that there would be a pizza and beverage stop in Siren. I wasn't sure I wanted to to stop, being concerned I might not get started again. But as I nearly popped going around the airport a break was needed. Frank, Gentle, Josh and I all stopped and had delicious wood fired pizza and "recovery" beverages at Tesora before climbing back on the bikes. According to my watch, this was a 59 minute layover.
I had been tracking my more attractive half all day as she made her way through the 70 mile ride. As we stopped in Siren I could see that she had just left. I was definitely getting something though. A delicious Espresso Malt and I was getting anxious to be on the trail again. I bid my days riding buddies farewell and went to chase down my girl thinking I had a chance at catching her before SCF.
I was wrong. I was cranking away for all I was worth and every time I checked she was still 4 miles ahead. When I reached Centuria and she was on the Interlink I knew it wasn't happening. I really did appreciate the downhill shortly beyond Centuria after what seemed like an entire day of soft surfaces, headwinds, or gradual motivation sapping uphills.
All in all it was a great day. Other than being "slightly breezy", the weather was fantastic. I had great company on the bike all day. And despite tripling my longest ride of the year, and riding on the ragged edge for a good portion of the day, I finished in excess of my expectations.
What's next? Some 50k trail run on Saturday. I'm pretty sure I'm even less prepared for that than I was for this. Almanzo is likely on the docket. But really, it is time to put some structure into the training plan again. Only 302 days until the Birkie.