Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Race Report: Gunnison Growler

This past weekend I went down to Gunnison for The Original Growler and a little relaxation before the race.  My wife, Megan, and I got into Gunnison Friday evening to spend Saturday at Curecanti National Park just West of Gunnison for some hiking, a picnic, and lake kayaking.  The views were amazing and once again reaffirmed our love for Colorado.  We love small towns like Gunnison and the friendly people that live in them.  After a long day of adventure, I slept like a baby Saturday night and arose to a chilly Sunday race morning with a 7 a.m. start.  Things warmed up fast after a long neutral start to the trails at Hartman Rocks.  The race really heats up after the neutral start ends and then hit a steep fire road dubbed "Kill Hill".  I stayed ahead of the pack up the hill to avoid pile-ups since the Growler is one of most technical endurance races out there.  I was riding among pros who I've followed through the years.  It was really exciting to be among the greats.  I did a decent job keeping up with the top twenty riders the first lap, and made sure to not completely burn myself out.  My legs and lungs were fine, but man does that course mess with your head.  Lots of technical... LOTS!!! During the first lap I didn't expect the last couple miles to be so technical, and quite frankly I was getting a little annoyed.  After refueling midway from my awesome support crew of Rae, Rachel, Theresa, and Amber, I was physically and mentally recharged.  I spent the earlier part of the second lap slowly reeling in my competition.  I was ready to hit the techy stuff on the last half of the lap when on a downhill I heard the deafening sound of a hissing tire losing air.  I cut a small hole in the side of my rear tire.  I tried putting my bike on it's side hoping the sealant in my tire would seal it, but it was a no go.  I had to swap out the tube.  This cost me twelve minutes and at least twelve spots.  I tried to push the pace to reel some guys in, but it was no use.  I was cooked.  I ended up 40th overall (22 in my age group) with a time of 6:01:57.  Getting flats is just a part of the sport.  It is what it is.  I still had a great time racing and hanging out with my teammates.  We were easily the most supportive team out there cheering loudly for our own teammates, and for anyone else coming across the finish as well.  The race does not officially end until you make the slow ride back into downtown where you are given a choice from a growler (empty, but taps not too far away), a coffee mug, or a t-shirt.  Plus, they hand you $10 to buy lunch!  The Original Growler is what all other endurance mountain bike races should aspire to be.  Fantastic event!  I am sure to return next year with more sealant in my tire!  Next up, PV Cycle Derby this coming weekend.