Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Five-0 Fever!

It's now October. Where did September go? I couldn't tell ya but I can tell ya where we went. September was the month to hang up the little bikes and tune up our big bikes (big for us flat-landers) and hit up two Enduro events as part of the Rocky Mountain Enduro Series. 

But before we could even think for a second about the Remedy's big month out, it was all XC for the Dakota Five-0 race in Spearfish over Labor Day weekend. It had been a couple of years since we raced there and we were eager to get back. So many of our cycling community goes up there and so it kinda like a final hurrah before they turn to cyclocross and us to Enduro and or just riding single track during the best time of the year to do so.

The MTBWAGN had a few of the usual travelers with EOB and AOB and Eyberg. New in the van was Dave Randleman, local rider and DK Five-0 legend who would guarantee good times. We met up with Alex and his g-friend on the road and per usual we drove up part way on Thursday night and pulled into the Spearfish campground late Friday morning. Many of our friends were already there and saving us a spot. More friends and more friends would show up over the next couple of days until we probably had close to 20 Omaha riders just in our little section of the campground. 

The weather was hot. Race day was to be in the 90s so we kept our pre-rides to a minimum. After dialing in a newly rebuilt (twice) fork, I thought I had it where it should be and I began my preparations. Previous iterations of this race, in this direction, had me going out too hard and burning too many matches in the first half (which was mostly climbing) so the second half, mostly descending, hadn't been as fun. Well, the plan was to not do that this year, especially with the heat. I ran bottles with the plan to stop when I needed to and eat, eat, eat. I also had a bottomless supply of caffeinated jelly bellies on board to keep the calories coming in. 

This race was the first appearance of my new exclusive TREK Midwest Stars & Stripes nationals jersey. I had one made by our kit sponsor with the TREK logo on it. Something about having that on my back just gave me wings; so proud and honored and just wanted to do well for all it represented: my team and my cycling community. 

The race did go well. Though my start was a wee on the conservative side I kept telling myself I'd be able to make it up on the back side with full power. I grabbed Todd Eyberg's wheel on the road up and we switched once we hit single track. Then, when it finally started going down for the first time, I pulled aside and said goodbye to Todd. That was probably 45 minutes in and then I started seeing the wave 2 riders, including Ryan who was near the top of that group. I got a few comments and high-five vibes about my kit and how cool it was to be riding along the rider who was wearing it. I had guys all around me in the single track but not one woman and I didn't see any the whole race. I only knew about where I was at one of the aid stations but you can't always count on that. As the track reached its high point of the day, well I'll be darn if I didn't come up on my good friend Eyeberg. Todd, where the hell ya been all day? Let's get after it and get down this mountain. Todd is a great descender and I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up all the time but I'd catch up on climbs and follow his line until he disappeared again. On the final bitch of a climb that was super soft and had a steep root step up in the middle, I was able to push past him again for a bit but we traded when it went down. By the time we got back to the road I put on the after burners and pedaled as hard as I could, even sprinting up that God-foresaken hill right before that asphalt parking lot. As I always believe, the next woman could be right in front or right behind so just best to put it all out there. 

The effort was enough for 3rd place in my age and 7th overall of the women.

The best part was coming in at the end and seeing Ryan and so many friends who had already finished. To top it off an old co-worker, Jenae, who lives in Sheridan, WY just across the boarder, arrived just in time to see us finish and celebrate proper DKFIVE-0 style. She stayed the night and camped in her truck and we just had a blast drinking and hollering and eating the night away. It was so wonderful to hang out with her like we used to back in the day, chasing the sunset or grabbing a bucket of KFC and heading to the woods. Good times.

Lots of NE and IA riders stepped onto the podiums that day. Pretty cool to see so many do so well at this event and represent the flat midwest at such a primarily climey course. Though my goal was to break 5 hours (as in 4:50) I missed it by a smidge (I stopped at every station and even got off to stretch and eat a solid sammich at the midpoint) but I'm OK with that. The winner kicked all our girly asses coming in like 4:25 or something insane. Damn (awesome) Colorado-ans! Also cool to note is our age-group was the fastest of the women, so ladies, it's never too late! :)

We'll see how the schedule works out in 2018 and hope to return. I'd like to ride it the "normal way" for once. We are on a rotation of hitting it going in reverse so it would be fun to do it with more descending. 

The Dakota Five-0 is a special event. Though it's a long ways away, it always has a feeling of home. #pedalpower

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