What a day; This years race was one of the most difficult ones I've ever done. I've put it in my top ten along side of the Arrowhead 135 and the first Ragnarok back in 08'. The combination of a stiff 25mph wind, gusting to 35-40mph, the soft gravel dispersed throughout the course, and the temps in the 90's, killed me and my poor legs. Here is MY excuse part of the equation, I didn't get much training in and thought I could go out hard and do well, I could not. I did however enjoy riding with a lot of different people suffering right along side me. Mark and I usually ride most of these hundos together for all or a portion of the race, this one was no different. Somehow just before Forestville State Park (mile 65), we got separated, I took a nap in the shade alongside other like minded people, and he kept going. I rode the last 30++ miles with my pals from my race team, Penn Cycle. In that group was Pat the owner of Penn Cycle. It was awesome riding with him as he has supported me through sponsorship for the last 15 years and this was the first race I've done alongside him. I'm not just saying this for the brownie points, Pat's a great guy, and as it turns out, a strong rider. While my legs were cramping so bad on the last few hills of the race that I could not even move them, John, Pete, and Pat waited for me at the top. Dennis kept me company while I walked the last three hills, he was in rough shape as well. We all finished together, it was awesome. At the finish line to greet us was none other than Chris Skogen, we shook hands, and gave each other a hug. I've been coming to Almanzo since 08' and have gotten to know Chris over the years, it's an honor to have him as a friend. Speaking of another honorable friend, "The Legend", who joined our group of four for the carpool down to the race, was nowhere to be seen at the finish line by the time I got in around 6pm. No one ever worries about "The Legend" in terms of his safety, he is tough as nails, old shoe leather, and a two-bit steak combined. The only problem was, he was on his fat-bike, and judging by the difficulty of the day I knew it would be a ton of extra work on that bike. I expected him to pass me sometime during the day, sooner than later, since I was soooo slow, but he didn't. Around 6:45pm a large diesel pick-up pulled up to the back of my van, and out came The Legend. He could barely walk, so we propped him up by his bike to snap a quick pick, and then let him hobble over to the van to change. You will have to ask him yourself about the details of his ride as it's not my story to tell and I do not wish to incriminate him before he is to answer to the DBD board. As far as the DBD is concerned, I will go to bat for him, as an outsider and concerned citizen, but witness no less, in any, and all hearings on this matter.
Thank You; Chris Skogen and all the volunteers for putting on the greatest gravel grinder on the planet, John, Pete, Pat, and Dennis for dragging me to the finish, My wife and kids for understanding, "this is what I do", Mark, for always having someone to ride with, and The Legend, for buying me dinner at John Hardy's and being a super hero. And also to the Chuker for loading the bikes in the van, paying your share of the gas and introducing me to John Hardy's BBQ 15years ago.
|Left to right, Death Rider, Pete, John, Pat ,Dennis and some other guy|
|The race has gotten huge!|
|The riders at the start line stretched well beyond the lens of my camera|
|Testing, attention please|
|Mark fixes a flat as Steve cruises by|
|In the background is where the flooded creek was two years ago on the Gentlemen's ride. We took a break before the big climb out of the valley|
|As you can see John was struggling with the climbs as well|
|Since we were taking photos, why not get in one of them|
|I lied to them, this was not the finish. Still about ten miles left.|
|We all walked up this, except John. Second to the last hill, if you raced it you know how tough it was, Hellish|
|Our finishing group with Mr. Skogen|
|He stayed in that hunched over position even after we removed the bike.|