Busy week! Can't believe its taken me all week just to find a little time for a blog post.
This race was awesome! 2 days, 50 miles each day starting and finishing both days in New Paltz, NY. Day 1 was hilly and super scenic in the Shawgunks. Day 2 was farms, orchards, rail trails, fun singletrack, and a cave.
Day 1 - Drove up with Kristin, arrived an hour before the start, registered, made sure I had all my gear, went to the starting line for the pre-race instructions, and then we were off. First 1.6 miles were neutral as we rolled out of town, and the group all stayed together behind a lead car.
We got to a dirt road, the pace car pulled aside, and the racing was on. Some dudes were jockeying to get to the front, but most were like me, and had been a little scared by the elevation profile map of the course. [Map with Profile HERE] Basically it looked like the first 20 miles were all up hill. So I just eased into a nice pace, and fell into a group of 5 doing the same. The climbing ended up not being nearly as steep or aggressive as I was expecting; the paths were smooth and the speeds were actually kept pretty high for the most part. Fun way to climb! The first aid station came at 14 miles. Kristin was there, gave me a fresh bottle of Perpetuem and some salt pills. I was the only one of my group of 4 now to stop. I was only stopped for like 30 seconds, and immediately after the aid station it started to get steeper and they all slowed down a bit so I was back with them in no time. Up and up we went until we got to a ridge with AMAZING views. Rode across the ridge and were still climbing slightly. I was feeling great, and very happy with myself for staying under control so far, and getting mentally ready to attack the downhills. First came some downhill switchbacks, then a loop around a lake, and then a blazing fast section back to the 2nd aid station. I stopped, Kristin filled up my camelbak while I got something to eat, and was off. More miles of fast downhill, and drifting gingerly through the higher speed turns. The crew I was climbing with was long behind me now, and I was picking off riders ahead. Then more climbs, some singletrack, until a bunch of women on horses came onto the trails. I came around a corner and the horses were already spooked, jumping around all crazy, and the women were all panicked. So I just stopped, waited for them to get things under control, then carefully squeezed by. At mile 47-ish the course markings got a little confusing, I think some hikers messed with the signs at an intersection. I wasn't the only one that picked the wrong direction; seems like most people made some kind of mistake there. I then caught 2 other riders, so we thought we were on the right track, and we kept going down the mountain, and popped out of the trails onto a farm road, didn't see any trail markers, so we kept going out to the main road, still no markers, we decided to go left because it felt right. Rode for awhile, nothing looked familiar. Came to an intersection and asked a driver where New Paltz was... He pointed us in a direction, we set off and eventually found ourselves back on the course about a 1/4 mile before the finish. Crossing the finish line I had 55.3 miles on my computer (5 extra miles!). I'm usually disappointed when something like course markings affect the outcome of the race, but in this case I didn't care, the day was awesome, and I rode my face off. I was like 10th across the line (came in with 8th and 9th place). Then I don't know what they did after that to adjust for the course markings, but they gave my official results for that day as 5th place. Which sounds about right; there were a few guys already at the finish line that I had passed earlier in the race. Official time 3:53:00 (actual time on my watch was about 3:58:45) Avg speed 13.9mph
Day 2 - Totally different experience. Same neutral start, but then we got to a rail trail and the racing was on big time... The pace was high, the front of the pack being driven by two Pro's from the Jamis Factory Team. I couldn't hang on for too long or I'd cook myself too early. So I let them go, about 12 of them. I was completely alone then, nobody behind me. Did some really cool riding in apple orchards and farms, not very hilly but lots of tall grass to add some resistance to the pedals, and hide all the sneaky little bumps and holes. Then back onto a rail trail for what I'm guessing was like a 12 mile stretch. I just put my head down and went, it was dead straight, no one ahead, nobody behind. I was keeping a consistent 19-20mph. Then we climbed up a road and into some awesome single track, it was slow going, but really fun. Highlighted by a ride through a pitch black cave where the course was marked by a line of what seemed like glowing chalk that we followed all the way through. Back out to a road where we found the 2nd rest stop at mile 37. I refilled my camelbak, got down some fuel, mixed some perpetuem into my bottle and was off. Long road climb into some hilly single track, I was starting to get pretty zapped from the heat, but kept pluggin away. After a few miles the trails led back to the rail trail for a 3-4 mile straight shot back to the finish line. I felt much better, and hammered it home. Crossing the line in 3:34:42, 11th place for the stage. Avg speed : 14mph
Ended up finishing 9th place in the GC (overall) with a combined time of 7:27:42. Official Results HERE
This race will definitely be on my calendar next year! Who's coming with me!!!