Burke Swindlehurst, the promoter for the Crusher in the Tushar race had invited me to the event over the winter. I said yes, unaware of the changes that were about to ensue and the time I would have to take off the bike. The time was here and I was recovering from a broken ankle and punctured bursa sac in my knee just four weeks prior. This was definitely the least prepared I would be for a race in my life. I had given my riding partner shit for getting too techie over his gear ratio, and worry over details. I actually told him publicly on Facebook to “harden the eff up”. This would come back to haunt me but, sometimes you just have to wing it and give in to the experience.
We woke at 6 am in Beaver, Utah for our 8am start to pouring rain. It had been record heat in Colorado for weeks so I hadn’t even thought about a rain jacket. All I could imagine was blazing hot sun roasting me up every climb. Yeah, climbing…I had signed up for 69 miles and 10,500 ft of climbing, certainly not my strong suit. No rain jacket, so I just doubled up on jerseys and braved the elements.
I was happy to learn that some of my cross buddies would be partaking in the event with me, Caroline Mani, my favorite Frenchie, Ben Berden, crazy fast Belgie, Jamey Driscoll, sweetness, and Ryan Trebon, legs. Gretchen Reeves and Tammy Jacques rolled up to the line along with some other fast bettys. I was relaxed and ready for anything. The men rolled out first and we would drive the tail. We started at a social pace and got caught up with each other and enjoyed our time as a pack, this would be short-lived. The first dirt road section at about 30 minutes in and the game was on. Gretchen and Tammy upped the ante. We all tried to hang but it was short-lived, I decided to slow my roll and ride my own pace. It would be a long day and I wanted to enjoy myself.
I soon found out why everyone was riding mountain bikes. My cross gearing, 36/27, was making for the longest power workout of my life. My cadence was noticeably slower than everyone elses. The road was slow and sticky. I was now alone, and started to pick off the men in the fields ahead. It felt like a video game, how many riders can you pass? This kept me motivated, to have people around and snippets of conversation along the way. The elevation chart looked something like two pointy D cups. Climb up the first, steep downhill, flat lollypop loop and then back up what we had just come down with extra climbing off the top. The vistas were some of the best I had ever seen on a ride. The clouds hung low revealing ominous and majestic mountainsides. Beauty lead my motivation and I felt as though I had a constant smile even as I was suffering inside. At one point more than half way through the ride and on the steepest ascent, people were walking. The thought entered my mind but I managed to stave off the action. A few times I did get off and run to shake out my legs and would perform a cx remount and continue on. This seemed to work well as I felt me knees were about to pop.
The last climb seemed never-ending and I heard men mumble and groan behind me as we would continually turn up and up and up. I knew this is what I had signed up for and the challenge, adventure, and unknown is what I craved.
I crossed the line at Eagle Point Resort at a snail’s pace, at this point I was in no mans land in 4th and was racing only myself; no need to sprint the line.
The support, people, and course made this race. It was like no other I had ever done and it stands in a niche all its own. This day in the Tushar Mountains has become special to me, and its something I hope to enjoy/suffer in each year.
Now back to Utah on the 24th to compete in the Dealer Camp Raleigh cross race. This will be my last big push to win sponsorship so that I can continue the dream of racing and riding for the upcoming season. Wish me luck!