100 Tatanka

“Hi! Can I jump in the back of your truck?” I asked as the man rolled down his window. I was about 30 miles into my scheduled 100 mile ride, out of water and 2 miles from the first scheduled stop when I ran into the “Big Herd” of buffalo.
“Yes! Jump in!” I threw my bike in his box and then jumped in behind it. A few minutes later he stuck his head out, “do you want to sit up here?” “Sure, do you have room?” So I jumped out and then hopped up into the front seat. I was greeted by a man and wife and their niece and two puppies on vacation from Missouri. My mom thought this was funny as the lady who found me on the side of the road when I got a brain injury was also from Missouri.

I had started the morning, like I start all big ride days, putzing around. I finally rolled out around 11 (I know, I know…) and wanting to get some miles in took the back road into Custer State Park, I also thought this route would have me avoid any of the herds thinking they would be up higher since the temps were over

100 degrees. I was getting off of Wildlife loop road and heading towards Blue Bell (maybe 2 miles) where I could refuel (I had just run out of water), I looked to my right and saw the ‘Big Herd’ to the right and looked ahead and saw a line of cars stopped. I thought they were all stopped to take pictures (uh, tourists) when I took the right and realized that the herd was on both sides of the road and buffalo were zigzagging back and forth over the road. I wouldn’t be able to turn around and ride 30 miles back without water given how hot it was so my only choice was to negotiate around these guys (this herd is a little aggressive, already having one goring for the year). I edged a bit forward keeping close to one car, there is no way I’m going to make it through this without getting gored, I saw the headlines, “Higher-up at Wind Cave National Park has his niece gored by Buffalo, clearly not teaching her anything….” I would never survive another family dinner if that happened. I looked ahead and saw a truck with a tandem in back, seeing they were still about 30 feet back from the hustle and bustle that was taking place ahead I made my move. Thankfully they took me in. We made it through without too much trouble. They then dropped me off at Blue Bell where I could get more water and snacks and continue on my way.

Top of Mt. Coolidge

I did continue but cut it short at 80 miles instead of 100, my computer read out 106 average temp for the day and my stomach started to fight back after about 50 miles with some fatigue setting in. I’ll blame it on the heat, but it was a good ride to have after the Tatanka 100- did the same amount of mileage in half the time.

2/3 of people in this picture are legal scholars (hint the one in the middle is not….)

I also finished working and for those of who don’t know I ended up working at my parent’s law office. Which I really tried to avoid coming into the summer, because I didn’t want them to realize I
had NO idea what I was doing!  I had a different internship to begin with but once that fell through at the last minute this was the only thing open. I’m actually so thankful that I was able to be in my parents’s firm. I ended up spending most days with my dad and had a really inside look into the legal profession, which is certainly filled with hilarity, and not a lot of dull moments. I also realized just how lucky I was to be able to have my dad as a mentor in a potential career, and to see him in that capacity as I’m sure most people aren’t that lucky.

I’m headed to CO now to hangout until Leadville (I have wedding festivities down there the next 3 weekends). I’m looking forward to is, although this has been the first summer I’ve spent in the Black Hills since getting into mountain biking it has been better than I thought. I am hoping for less snake sightings in CO!

106 degrees=straight to DQ!

Tatanka 100

I spent a lot of the Tatanka 100 thinking about Lance Armstrong, but probably not for

Getting ready

reasons you would think. There is a video of him doing a Beer Mile (run a lap, chug a beer, repeat x4) I was watching it with Wayne one day and after the first lap he walks off the track mumbling, “this isn’t what I expected…” Wayne’s response was, “what did he expect..it’s a beer mile!” That’s what I kept saying, “this isn’t what I expected…” and then a little voice would pop into my head saying, “well, what did you expect, it’s the Centennial Trail” and I would respond back with, “I don’t know…not this” which is how 13 hours of racing could really be summed up, not at all what I expected.

There wasn’t one thing that went catastrophically wrong but enough little things that results in one large biomechanical malfunction which resulted in my slowest race ever. I had started the day not feeling at 100%, maybe around 70% having raced the

Monday before but I figured I had 83 miles for me legs to figure it out so wasn’t too worried. I had only decided to do the 83 miler a few days before, thinking I would just be doing the 35. I figured the longest it would take me would be about 10 hours. We started on pavement for a neutral roll out of about 3 miles before hitting the trail. Within about the first 6 miles I soon realized why the times were so slow from last year, the trail gets pretty congested to begin with and then there are a lot of hike-a-bike sections, but not hike-a-bike roll your bike along with you, more lift your bike up, put it on the rock and climb up yourself. Oofta, definitely no rhythm to the ride. The first aid station was at mile 16 so I kept thinking about that, trying to stay on pace and get my legs shook out.

I made it to the first aid station and made a plan to get what I needed and get out of there- I moved quickly. I left following two guys out, one local and one from CO. The heat was definitely starting to take its toll and after about 3 miles and half way down a descent the local guy went down on the left of the trail, he cramped up and and waved both of us along saying he’d be fine, so we kept descending and I kept drinking to stay on top of any cramps that might be headed my way. We got to a road with no course marking….ohhhh crap! Still not sure where we missed the turn we turned around and started back up what was initially a nice reprieve. We realized our mistake was where the guy cramped, as we both had been looking left the trail had taken a fork right. It was frustrating and took me a while to recover mentally from. Between the 1st and 2nd it’s still pretty primitive trail, with stair hiking (my favorite), and a feeling of bush whacking through some areas with grass brushing against my handlebars and thick grass stalks that had only recently been pushed down to forge the trail.

Driving the struggle bus…. Photo: Randy Ericksen

This is the only time in my life that I’ve actually been concerned with a race cut off time- and it was going to be close, especially because I had taken a break to sit down on the side of the trail and eat something. I rolled into the aid station and saw lots of riders milling around. I ate some apples and laid down on a slab of cardboard for a while. I then got up and walked over to two women that I had talked to earlier in the day, they were calling it, not wanting to waste their whole day. It was so tempting, to bail with them, so I sat and ate some chips and pickles that they had given me while weighing the pros and cons. Pro: I’ll be done with this wretched race. Con: I’ll have to ride longer tomorrow. I got back up and overheard people talking about turning the aid station into a recovery aid station, that they were going to start pulling people…I grabbed my bike and got out of there deciding to at least make it to the next aid station.

The section was hot, exposed, dusty, and on a two-track open to motorized vehicles. It sucked the life out of me, or what was left at that point. I really started to get frustrated and started to do a lot of soul searching to get me through- I came up with a mantra “sometimes fast—sometimes last.” I also thought back to a ride I had done earlier that week with Barb when I had looked down and saw a snake below me on the side of the trail. I called back to Barb, “there is a snake back there” her response “where?!? I don’t see it, but I don’t look down, I look at where I’m suppose to be going” very wise words as I had started the day trying to look where I was going to avoid any mishaps with snakes and as the miles slowly crept by and the time seemed to be exponentially faster at passing, this became my thought process too, stop thinking about where I am right now, in this very moment and think about where you are going, this is training for Leadville, this doesn’t matter. It didn’t make it any easier though. I stuck with it but getting to that third aid station almost did me in. I

He was suppose to be tied up for directions

rolled in 3rd aid station, grabbed the only drop bag I had packed for the day and promptly sat down in a chair that was provided by the boy scouts running the station. I grabbed a cup of chips, then grabbed another one, then another, then another, then another, then another-the most chips I have ever eaten during a race but I think my body wanted the salt. And then I sat there, and sat there, and sat there, and sat there weighing if I should drop out or not. I talked to the race directors from the gravel race I had done earlier this year in Spearfish as one had crashed out and the other pulled the plug and they offered me a ride back and then I weighed the pros and cons with them. It was most frustrating because at this point I was already toasted and racing for the next weekend was off the table so even if I didn’t finish at this point I didn’t gain much. They were familiar with the next section and gave me low down. It seemed there was really only one good climb out and then it was rolling. And so I finally got out of that chair and back on my bike.

The climb wasn’t bad, no more rock features so I was able to stay on the bike and just pedal. And that’s what I did. For the next 35 miles, there were a few short climbs that I had to get off and walk up because my legs had nothing left in them. I rolled in to the last aid station, nearly depleted and so happy to know I was now getting so close. The man put a cold wash cloth on my neck and the lady poured me a coke, which I didn’t think I wanted but promptly drank. I sat down on a cooler and pulled out my cell phone to text Barb and give her an update, I had a message from my coach, “how’d the race go?” I burst out laughing and yelled, “THIS IS THE LONGEST RACE EVER!” I texted Barb with an update, letting her know I still had 17 miles to go. Even with 17 miles left I still knew it would be close to 2-2.5 hours. I left the aid station with enough fruit snack bags to get me through the week (better to be safe than sorry). I was doing well until the last 4 miles. I thought back to this little girl who was put a bike with training wheels, on her parents taking their hands of her she began screaming, “GET ME OFF THIS BIKE!” I have never identified more with a child than those last miles. Tears began to well up in my eyes from the frustration the day had brought. I cut through a cow track, which had a goat walking down it, which was a bit of a comedic relief. I knew the ending was at a city park but had no idea where the park was in relation to where I was and when I came up on one park that was

desolate I had figured that everyone had left, fortunately I saw signs to keep going and was soon on the bike path. I was ushered into the high school track and saw a lone person standing at the opposite end. Again thinking this was the end, and was depressed that it took me so long that everyone was gone–she then pointed me around the corner where I was greeted by Barb and the finish line.

I rode the next day, just to make sure that I could but the next few days were a little rough. I’ve even spent time questioning why I’m doing Leadville again. I’ve been opting for trainer workouts over going outside so I could at least watch 30 Rock and not have to think about anything.

I’m so thankful that Barb did the 17 miles and was willing to drive me home, otherwise I think I would have just laid down in the grass and stayed there until I ran out of fruit snacks.

She finished wayyyy before me!

Here are the numbers:
Distance: 79 miles
Time: 12:56
Avg. Speed: 6.10
Elevation: 10,417
Avg. HR: 145
Avg Power: 95
Time spent at aid stations: 2 hours–I wish I was kidding!
Quarq provided live tracking, which was nice when I was talking to Sully about dropping out at each point along the way and he could offer me up points of encouragement.
Just a note my goal time for Leadville is 9:35- I was at mile 53 when I hit that mark in this race…almost comical.

Finally got my summer tan!