The beautiful and delicious birthday cake Michelle made for my 40th.
I was excited when I found out there was going to be a new 100 mile race in our "neighborhood". Usually we have to travel across the country or world to race something this long, but Tahoe is only a few hours north, so I signed up right away. It was also nice to learn the race had a prize purse of 15,000 dollars, with 2500 dollars for both male and female winners, which is highly unusual in mountain biking.
It's been a busy summer with travelling, racing, home improvements, and celebrating my 40th birthday and I didn't have time to put much thought or training into this race. I figured I still have a good base from Ironbike and I have done a couple of 5 hr rides and a few short but hard rides. We didn't get up to the race until 6:30 pm since I had to work in the morning and then pack for our trip. We quickly registered and then put our tent up and got our bikes and food ready before it got dark. We were sharing camping spots with Bruce Frazier, a nice guy from Elko, Nevada I had met at La Ruta last year and then at Creampuff. Bruce cooked up a gourmet meal for dinner and we sat under the stars and enjoyed it.
The race started at 7 am the next morning. With all the prize money, the race had drawn quite a few fast riders. The race started with a pretty easy gravel climb and after the climb I was in the lead. There were lots of check points with fluids and race food, including the "Robinson's flats" check point which we were supposed to go by at mile 41 and 85... I say supposed to go by, because I only went by it once.
I was having some problems reading the course markings, they were few and far apart, and at one point I turned and rode about a mile back to a checkpoint to make sure I was actually going the right way. The course consisted mostly of dusty gravel roads (hard to avoid in Tahoe this time of year) with fairly easy climbing. At mile 82, Amanda Riley-Carey flew past me. Ooops, I guess I had gotten a little too comfortable with my lead. I quickly got on her and made sure I kept her in sight. The pace picked up and we continued for several miles. All of the sudden she turned around and asked if I thought we were going the right way. I hadn't seen any white arrows telling us to turn and we were clearly following the markers so I didn't see any reason to turn around. We rode together for a long time, and according to my computer we only had a couple of miles to go, when all of a sudden we saw a table set up with coolers and water bottles that we had already gone by earlier in the day..... Oh no!!!!
There were a few people sitting in the shade and one guy said: "Yep, you went the wrong way. As did I". He was the 5th place male. The others were waiting for water, because the coolers were completely empty, except for a bottle of orange nectar.... Amanda and I were so bummed. We were clearly out of the race. After about 15 minutes, Jim Northey, the race director showed up in a truck to deliver water. We got a ride back to Robinson's flat with him, but not before he took us back to the place where we took the wrong turn. When we got there it had been blocked off by a truck because several others had misread the markings as well. Jim was super apologetic and felt really bad but there was nothing he could do. These things happen in races, especially ones where the course crosses itself. There were arrows going in two different directions, and apparently we missed the ones taking us back toward the Robinson's flat checkpoint and the finish line.
After riding around in Jim's truck for a while, Amanda and I decided to get out and ride the rest of the course. We had about an hour and a half to the finish and got over our lost fortune and decided to make the best out of it. I felt bad for Amanda, she had driven 14 hours by herself from Jackson, Wyoming. Eric had been at the finish line for a couple of hours when we finally showed up. He ended up in 18th place in the open men. Not bad for someone who has been riding once a week since getting back from Italy.
We hung out until the next morning and took off after having another delicious meal cooked up by Bruce. Eating Huevos Rancheros after sleeping in a tent eased the pain of "losing" 2500 bucks a little....