The plan had been, for those who wanted to do the 30 mile as a Gravel Ramble Ride, to meet at the start, ready to roll, at 8:30. Bethany and I had picked up our packets last night. Bebeth was there pretty early, so was ready to go at 8:30. A few others had not been able to get their packets last night (out of town and working). Unfortunately, we couldn’t pick up anyone else’s packet because waivers had to be signed. The line for packet pickup today was fairly long. At 8:40, Bebeth, Bethany, and I headed out onto the trail.
Those who were waiting in line to get their number and timing chip.
Stephanie, Erin, and Katie heading out for the 50 mile course.
The singletrack part, while not my favorite was doable. Once we were to the road (C5000), but not to the “start”, I saw a black box on the side at the bottom of the hill. The race organizer (Cam) said the official start would be at the C-Line. Turns out, it was at the bottom of the 700 foot climb to the C-Line. For us, that made no difference as we were not racing, but for those who were racing, it was a bit of a dirty trick. Some of the racers were stopping at the C-Line, only to find out their race timing had started!
Bebeth, and the ever present issue of fogged up glasses!
Bethany reaching the “start”. Still smiling!
The C-Line was much better with the rain keeping the dust down, and making it more grippy. We regrouped at the turn onto D4000.
Bebeth and Bethany making the turn.
Our first aid station came at just 8.7 miles in. They had cookies, trail mix, red licorice, and...beer (no worries, it was non-alcoholic).
Aid station #1 (we had 3)
Bethany thought we would stay on D4000 to the D-Line (that would have popped us out at the top of the D-Line) but...no, of course not! That would be too easy! First we had to go all the way down (and up and down and up and down) to Bordeaux via E9000 (and various other “E” roads).
Including this section of the McKinney Trail. See the pink arrow? The route was very well marked.
Where E9000 came out to Bordeaux, we came to Aid Station #2. Here they had peanut M&Ms, apricots, dried chili mango, and...no beer.
Next up (literally) was the climb up the D-Line. At least it’s paved, but it’s still pretty steep. We regrouped again at the top before descending down to the beginning of D3000. This up only to go down, and then up again (and down...you get it), was something Stephanie and I thought was really good thing about the route...when we rode it in nice sunny weather. In the rain, it’s more like...turn your rain jacket into a sauna as you are climbing, then do a polar bear plunge as you come down.
Soon enough, we reached the dreaded singletrack hike-a-bike section. The trail was very muddy this time. My brand new pair of gaiters were covered in mud by the time we came through. Also had to sit and dig the mud out of my cleats so I could clip in to my pedals.
See those “stairs” in the background on the other side of the creek? They were very slippery!
Going up the now christened “Hill of Tears” (okay, I don’t think there were actually any tears shed), I was able to ride further than I had before because the rain had helped make the road easier (until it wasn’t). Still walked probably a good 1/2 mile. At the top, I waited for Bebeth and Bethany. Bebeth arrived, but by then I was starting to get cold. I rode on. We met up again at the final Aid Station, where they had the same stuff, and...lots of beer (still non-alcoholic). I really wish I liked beer.
After putting my Shake-Dry jacket on under my rain jacket, and changing into dry gloves (note to self: it’s easier to put new gloves on if you first dry your hands over the fire), annnd standing by the fire for awhile, we headed out for the final push to the finish. 1 1/2 more miles of easy climbing, then downhill all the way to Fall Creek. Crossed the finish line to cowbells and cheering from Katie and Erin (and others).
Let’s git ‘er done!
Glad to be finished!
Unfortunately, they had run out of pizza (more was coming, but it would have been an hour). Of course, they had tons of NA beer. We got out of some of our wet stuff, and stood by the big fire. Erin took this photo of Katie and I in our matching Smartwool Plaid jackets.
Look how muddy the toes of my boots are, even though I was wearing gaiters that cover the toes!
While the weather wasn’t the best, it was still a good ride (although I really have no desire to do that hike-a-bike section ever again). It’s pretty awesome that we get to have a race/ride like this in our backyard. Good job to Cam for creating such butt-kicker routes, and thanks to Bethany for making it possible for me to go (ie giving me a ride). We all did a great job!