This week has been so crazy busy ... I've just been chompin at the bit to recap a dare-I-say EPIC race last weekend.
Hwood, the Chucker, and I headed out to Chaska last weekend to take on our first dirty century race with high hopes of simply finishing. Saturday was the Dirty Benjamin - a 107 mile gravel & dirt road race, looping from Chaska to Watertown and back. I'm not one who enjoys tossing the word 'epic' around, but this one may have definitely qualified. Nothing chaps my ass more than hearing someone say that some 20 minute weekday crit was "epic", but taking on a 15-25 mph headwind for the first 50 miles of a gravel century, self-supported, cue card guided.... now that was friggin' epic!!!
The start of the race rolled out more civilized than I imagined so Jay and I quickly moved ourselves to the lead riders to ensure a great position from the get-go. We entered a length of snowmobile trail and put the hammer down, trying to separate ourselves from as many riders as possible. Four miles in and we were with the top 10 and feelin fine.
Once we made it out to the gravel roads, the wide farmlands opened up and allowed the winds to step up to the plate and abuse the crap out of us. Jay was the best teammate I could have - never leaving my side and letting me find my pace in his draft. We made it to the 50 mile check point and stopped only long enough to refill our bottles and choke down half a PB&J each. With heart rates still high, we jumped back onto our bikes and onto the road.
We continued northwest and into the wind for a bit, bringing attention to my screaming left hip flexor. It was seizing up bad, making every pedal stroke a challenge. Jay slowed the pace up as I tried to massage it out. We hit the Luce Line Trail for miles 62-69 and I tried desperately to keep my wits about me and not break down. The trail offered a nice canopy of trees to hide from the wind in, and the flat trail was almost hypnotic as you quietly pedaled along. I stopped quickly to pee and stretch out my hip flexor, but realized quickly what a terrible idea that was as the mosquitos swarmed and feasted on my blood.
With thirty miles to go and no reduction in pain, I looked over at my sweet sherpa of a husband and said "This is AWESOME!!!". We were doing it! Our first gravel century race and we were hauling a$$ and sittin in the top 20! We just had to keep pedaling. 80 miles. 90 miles.
At 100 miles, euphoria kicked in and masked the pain and exhaustion. We pulled out onto a paved road that took us to our sweet downhill finish. Though we still had a couple miles to go, we were all smiles. Hwood and I even caught the Chucker, so the three of us got to ride in together as a team. When we pulled into the parking lot, Stukel raised up his arms - I WON THE WOMEN's OPEN!!!!
Our goal had been to get in under 7 hours and we rocked it in 6 hours 14 minutes! On top of it all, I finished 14th of 111 riders!!!! Bitch, please!I'm still floating from how awesome it was! I can't wait to do that again. Thanks to all the peeps who put it on - that was so RAD!!! And the biggest thanks in the world to my husband who never left my side. I couldn't have done it without you my love!!! You're the best part of my world and I love the daylights out of you.