When I stopped to draw out the arrow in the dirt road Shawn kept motoring along and I would only see him a couple times in the distance later on the Colorado Trail. I was sure some of the geared riders would catch me soon but it wouldn't be until mile 50. I crept along making my way to Black Hawk crashing once and hyper extending my knee. Not a big deal as the pain wasn't too bad, just some slight discomfort. "Keep moving", I told myself. As I was riding along toward the switchback climb to get to the Grindstone turn a damn bee flew into the left side of my glasses and sure enough stung me. I was a bit freaked out my eye would swell shut and I would have a miserable time descending down Grindstone and Bear Creek. I popped some Motrin and luckily my eye seemed fine for the remainder of the ride except the pain from the sting. Good times!
I kept a positive mindset descending on Grindstone fully aware of how Bear Creek would be; wet and rocky from the previous nights rain. I actually surprised myself getting through this section of trail. I was riding fairly well with some dabbing here and there on the rocky sections. I rode some good lines and was feeling great on the bike. My goal was to make it to the trail head in 6 hours but I arrived at 1pm. 6.5 hours. Good enough. Shawn was in at 12.45pm......I better make it quick here at the aid station. I was out in ten minutes after filling my bladder and stuffing some food down. Doug Byerly came in right behind me and knew he would catch me on the 4.5 mile road section before the turn on Taylor. Sure enough he did and thought I wouldn't see him again. As he passed I said "cya at the bar". The next section was the grind up Taylor Creek Road. The weather thus far was good and while riding up Taylor it was actually getting hot. This was soon to change my friends. So far on the course it was slower than normal due to the moisture and Taylor was slow with the loamy conditions. It was about to get much slower. The 13 miles up seemed to take forever. The clouds were coming in and the thunder was abundant. No lighting. The rain started to come down and I put on my rain jacket. I could see two sets of tires knowing it was Shawn's and Doug's tracks. The riding was getting slower and slower. I walked a few times just to do something different. It felt good. I finally arrived at the right turn to descend the road to make the left onto the Priest Gulch Trail. The next mile really sucked ass. No riding to be done (unless you count 20 yards as riding) but walking up through the rocks and roots. Wet and muddy. I wasn't a happy camper. I knew the next few hours would be tough and I kept telling myself to just get to the West Fall turn and it would be fine. Right!! As I came out of the 1 mile hike a bike section on Priest I look up the trail and I see Doug. Sweet, things are looking up. Somebody to commiserate with.
I yelled at Doug and he waited for me to hike up to him. He seemed happy to have some company and we chit chatted as we hiked up to the high point on the Calico Trail. We looked at the bailout option where Burnett dived straight into Rico and and we decided to push on as the weather was bad but not bad enough to get out. Lighting was to the north and south but not on top of us. Keep going. We would be at the West Fall turn in a few miles and once we descended the West Fall it would be OK in the trees. A few miles seemed like an eternity and after some hiking and riding we finally arrived at the turn to dive down the West Fall trail. It had been blowing and raining on us but nothing too terrible. Doug and I were both ready for the wet sloppy descent and knew a fight would be in order to get out of the Winter Trail section. A 'knife' fight I said. The West Fall descent was interesting with the mud and wet roots. It took some finesse and I could see Shawn's lone tire tracks. Doug and I were 2nd and 3rd tires on the trail. I knew a top 3 finish was in the works and I knew Doug would leave me behind as soon as we hit the dirt road. Damn gears! The Winter trail sucked. Black greasy mud. Slip and sliding as we hiked in the rain forest. I fell crossing the beaver damn, cursing the beavers for a minute. After some more hiking Doug took off as I was walking more often. I muttered something under my breath as he took off through the meadow. It was wet and I was done. Let's get out of here I told myself. At this moment I heard some grunting in the woods and thought it might be a cow. Doubtful. A bear I thought rooting around for food. Keep moving.
I soon topped out and knew it would be really muddy still in the last miles of the trail. It was worst than I imagined. I fell a few times and stretched out my shoulder once while crossing a mud bridge. I soon arrived at the dirt road and pedaled over to the Dunton Road and down to Hwy 145 and a 7 mile descent to Rico. It was still raining and the roads muddy, of course. I finished at 7.58 pm. Good enough for a third place finish. Shawn came in at 7.45 pm and Doug was 18 minutes in front of me. 6 riders finished out of 13. Great job to everybody. The Rico 100 is one of the hardest routes out there. The course will be the same for next year.
|Top three finishers. Beer thirty.|
|The bike was a mess afterwards.|