This was my first ever "endurance" mountain bike event. How did I even find myself there? I still haven't figured that one out. The longest race I had ever done before was a 20+ mile XC race in Indiana. My longest ride of the year was not more than 50 miles. This was a 60 mile race. I had thought about trying some of these endurance events after some new friends had suggested them to me. I was still up in the air about going until 2 days beforehand. I honestly was skeptical that my legs could handle that distance at race pace. That was a Thursday. I went out that day for a big ride, by my standards (remember I live in Boulder, where my training routines are trumped two-fold by half of the population). It turned out to be a ~55 mile day on the single speed, and I felt great afterwards. It was then, Thursday afternoon, that I decided I would go for it, on Saturday morning.
Saturday, May 5 2012. I was less nervous this morning than any of the XC races I had done in the past. I had no idea what to expect, and no expectations, just ready for a long day on the bike. The trails were described beforehand by the race announcer to be like "kitty litter", super loose in some corners, and super dry. As if grip wasn't already compromised enough, a lot of the tight turns fall away from you towards the outside, which made it pretty frustrating to try and maintain any speed. The start began with about a 1/4-mile dirt road climb leading into the tight singletrack. I wasn't trying to kill myself, but at my own comfortable climbing pace I entered the singletrack in 4th place. I quickly passed and got into 3rd. At this point I hung out for about 3/4 of a lap, trying to gauge the speed of the others. I was easily able to hold the wheel of the 2nd place rider, without expending too much energy, and always keeping an eye on the guy out front. When I saw him start to separate, by maybe 20 meters, I decided to pass again.
Lucky for me, the post race events included bucketloads of free beer from Rocky Mountain Endurance Series sponsor Oskar Blues Brewery (a favorite around these parts), and a post-race meal. I was actually surprised by how well I felt afterwards. It was a very hot day, 4 hours in the saddle, and draining. After some of my previous XC races I had felt physically ill, sick, not able to eat or drink anything. All in all, it was a great day in Castle Rock, and a sweet introduction to endurance mountain bike racing.