|The Salsa Two-Four venue. That hill in the back ground just keeps going up.|
I did come back and I came back with a different bike, a different plan, and a different attitude. I'd climb the hills of Afton on my super light El Mariachi Ti, with the Spearfish sitting on the bike rack of the car wondering why she wasn't in the game. Don't worry ole girl your time is coming. With two bikes on hand and a mantra of "I will ride 8 hours on this course today" playing in my head, I was prepared for the long haul.
An early morning drive to the Twin Cities area bolstered by good coffee from my house and really crappy coffee from Tobie's (Hinkley, MN) and I was pulling into the daunting "Alps". Immediately, I sought out the Salsa boys, Eric Fredrickson, Bobby Dahlberg, and John Gaddo as they'd be holding court under the Salsa tents. They were kind enough to allow me to set up some of my stuff under their shelter as well as offer me any mechanical support I may need. These guys gave me the friendly support I needed, but deep down I hoped I wouldn't see them until we were crackin' open some suds together around 6:00 p.m., in other words, the end of the race.
|My nerve center.|
The laps went on an on and I firmed my dislike for lap style races, especially on ski hills. Nevertheless, I saw a lot of wild life and the scenery was beautiful. Over half way through the race I decided to focus on keeping my lap times within 5 minutes of my first lap and make this whole thing about managing MY race, not other people's. I was doing it, I was really "shooting a tight group" of lap times. In fact, I put a number of laps together that were landing on the same minute each time. Meanwhile, I was moving through the field of 8 hour solo riders without really knowing it. I never took a break and kept my pit stops under 30 seconds. Oh, and a special thanks to the nice woman who helped me with my bottles when I needed refills, as Amy was not available at the time. It was nice to know they (the bottles) were all topped off and waiting for me.
The policy for the end of the race was that if you finished a lap before 6 p.m. you were allowed to head out for another one. This is common in these types of races, but I prefer when you have to be done by a certain time as this gives you a concrete end to the race. So, as luck would have it, I finished a lap at 5:50 p.m.. I could have gone out for another, but at 1,500 feet of climbing per lap and 10 laps under my belt, I decided I was done. I met my goal of riding Afton Alps for 8 hours. I never stopped and I never let the "Alps" intimidate me. I finished 3rd overall, with 64 miles on the gps.
|Me, after receiving my 3rd place award.|