What a race. 50.9 miles, 7,000′ of climbing. Something for everybody. The quick version = I finished 6th in the in the Singlespeed Class. I’m pretty stoked. Other than wasting 4 perfectly good Mint Chocolate Gu Gels in a Hydroflask that I couldn’t get to work (that was annoying), my nutrition plan worked well. Sour patch kids, gold fish, peanut butter cups, bananas, you name it. I was using this race as a tuneup for the AZT300 coming up, and rode fairly conservatively, with a fairly heavy bike. I rode with two full bottles (in hindsight, one was plenty, since aid stations with bottle handups were plentiful). I also had lots of tools, and extra tire repair stuff, since this course is known as a “pinch flat graveyard”. The field was stacked with some brutes, and I was happy to finish in 5:41 – within my 6 hour goal. My short, “punchy” climbing power was definitely lacking, since I’ve been doing longer tempo training for the AZTR. I still cleaned just about the whole course, and was loving the climbing portions of Zen Trail and Barrel Roll- it’s amazing how time flies when you’re thinking 3 step-ups ahead and loving every slickrock-induced smiley foot of elevation gained!! My overall fitness felt strong and my endurance/ stamina were great. Right when I finished, I jumped in the car and drove 6.5 hours back to Mammoth, so that I could make some powder slashes on Sunday morning. So it made for a long day. As I sit writing this, after another morning session of epic pow (I got 7th chair on 23, freshies on Wipeout, etc) my legs feel great. So I’m hoping they’re ready for the Arizona Trail.
2012 is only the 2nd year the True Grit race has been offered. It’s definitely on it’s way to becoming a classic. It brings out some heavy hitters for sure. I’d never been to St. George, but have heard great things. It’s right at the southwest corner, bordering on Arizona and Nevada (only 120 miles from Las Vegas, and 420 miles from Mammoth). This race proved that they have some of the best single track around. I got into town on Thursday afternoon, scouted around a little, then picked a place to camp for the next couple of nights. Majestic to say the least.
I camped on a plateau in Moes Valley, and other than hearing some hodeyokey’s hollering and blasting guns off in the faint distance, it was just me, myself, and I- and a rabbit or two.
I had a pulled pork sandwich at Dickey’s BBQ (free ice cream and pickles- rock on!!), and went to Walmart to snag some batteries for my GPS and steal some TP from the bathroom :). I still can’t get over how many young mothers and pregnant women I saw everywhere. It was out of control. There was also a ton of construction going on everywhere. St. George is growing fast. Not sure what that means for the future of local mountain biking, but for now, it’s still amazing. The weather was perfect, and I slept well on my queen air mattress. On Friday, I woke up early and pre-rode the Zen Trail section of the race.
I used this to base my gearing and tire pressure. 33:20 was the gear I chose, and I went with 24psi back, 22psi front for my tires. I’m glad I rode that section- at times the trail was hard to follow, and it was one of the most scenic spots too- so I got to take some pictures!! For race day, the gearing choice was great. The tires felt great. No mechanicals on a pretty rocky, techy course that ruined many bikes and egos. Glenn at Footloose tuned me up just before leaving Mammoth- what would I do without him clowning me for how poorly I maintain my bike? I also saw an old tube hanging in a tree and was happy it wasn’t mine. I took it with me, and will be happy to cut it up and use for my AZT rig… you’ll see why soon.
After the pre-riding, I grubbed at this joint called Iceberg. Biggest shakes and onion rings that I can remember ever having.
There was wind, and constant threat of rain. I cruised with a rain jacket and rain gloves in my jersey, and had a drop bag with extra gear left at an aid station. Luckily, other than some gusty headwinds, the weather stayed pleasant, and the skies never opened up. The temps were in the 60’s. NICE! This course had it all. Views of magnificent red rocks, vistas, bluffs, buff singletrack, tech descents, speedy whoops, rocks, shale, punchy climbs and slickrock step-ups. The start was a little weird. I was told we’d have a neutral roll out for 1.7 miles on the road, and then we turn up towards the trail and it’s game on. It was also supposed to be a staggered start- it wound up being chaos, with everybody just jumping out and mashing it. Oh well. I started off slow, giving my body a chance to warmup. I eventually settled in, and wound up having to make way too many passes in the first hour- note to self, jump out hard next time and don’t get stuck behind the looky loo’s… I need to sack up at the starts!!! I also used my GPS as a test for the AZT- I would glance down once and a while just to make sure I was following the track- worked like a charm. Anyhoo, when all was said and done, my goals were achieved. #1- stay healthy and in one piece. #2- have fun. #3- try to do #1 and 2 in less than 6 hours. Success. I love riding bikes. It was my first race of 2012, since I’m doing “quality over quantity” this year. But man, I can’t wait for the next one!! Hmmm… Stokey face.
Check out the nice writeup and photos by Brian Leddy in Mountain Flyer Magazine: http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com/view.php/true-grit-2012.html