Skip and I loaded up the Prius early Friday morning and were out of Lincoln by 5 am. Stopped in Omaha to get some Fat Tire for Gary, but was disappointed to find only domestics at the Flying J. Sorry Gary. Next time.
The drive/ride was relatively uneventful except for a near bladder control accident near Chicago. Thank goodness for the Oasis. We made relatively good time and gas mileage (averaged around 46.5 mpg) on our way to Manistee. Took about 14 hours and two tanks of gas to get there. Fuckin' awesome! Gotta love the hybrid.
Rolled into Manistee around 8 or 9 pm and grabbed some groceries and dinner before hitting the sheets around midnight. Stayed at the Microtel in Manistee and was pleasantly surprised to see we had a fridge and microwave. Was even more stoked on our room after hearing about other racer's accommodations.
Got up at 0415 and got ready to roll.
Lined up for the start next to Syd and Skip. I was leaning on my bike chattin' with Syd when I heard the truck pull away. Doh! I wasn't even on my bike when the start occurred. Lol! I'm such a dumbass.
The start was relatively fast and everyone maintained a great pace the first lap. Finished the first lap under two hours. Chilled for a bit at the start/finish and chatted with a rider that came in with me. He looked young, but I didn't ask how old. Gave him some chain lube and offered some electrolytes which he declined. Back on the bike for lap two.
Ran into Syd and Danielle on the second lap. Passed them and then ran into the youngster again and rode with him to the start/finish. Refilled bottles, ate some blocs, took some electrolytes and gave the youngster some chain lube. Off for lap three.
Rode by myself for a majority of it. Was able to relax a bit and take in the surroundings. Looked up while going thru a section of ferns and said outloud, "Holy fuckin' shit!". Beautiful trees about 60 feet tall lined the sides of the trail. Wish I had my camera. The trails were amazing. Lot's of trees, ferns, sandy corners, flowing single track, short climbs, and one smokin' fast decent. Highly recommend the trails, but I hear there are better ones in Michigan. Someone clue me in....
During the third lap I began to have some stomach issues. Got progressively worse during the fourth lap until I popped. Couldn't eat or drink much at all for the final lap. The thought of quiting never entered my mind thanks to all the razing I got at the start/finish line. There were several folk near my pit that were giving support to other racers as well as race officials that were tracking the official lap times. They were really friendly and we made small talk every lap. Because I was so dirty, one of the race officials asked me if I had crashed. I told them "No, it's just really dusty and I'm really sweaty" and we all had a good laugh. One of the officials egged me on to finish strong. I laughed and told her I just wanted to finish. She yelled, "Strong! Strong! Strong!" as I pedaled away up the first climb. I got a great laugh out of that and it really picked up my spirits. Thanks.
Felt really, really bad on that last lap. Forced down some Coke and water at the aid station and crawled my way to the finish. Stoked to see Danielle and the youngster cruise by on the final lap, both looking really strong. That put a big smile on my face and helped me push on to the finish.
Finished a little under 9 hours. Sat down for a bit and chatted with the youngster at the start/finish line. He was waiting for me. His name is Ryan (didn't get the last name). Look out Chris Eatough. This kid is only 16 and finished strong. This was his first mountain bike race over 40 miles. Frickin' amazing. Bravo! I talked with him a bit about sticking with mountain bike racing and hope I convinced him. He plays tennis in high school. Maybe that's what I need to do during the week. Play tennis.
Syd and Skip rolled in not too long after I did. I was stoked to see all of the Lincolnites finish. Great job everyone.
The awards ceremony was a hoot. Had some great conversations with Gary, Kris, Syd, Joe and Skip. Had three beers and was good and drunk. Gary won a sweet Endura cycling jersey and gave it to me to wear with pride. Oh, I'll wear it. Trust me. Syd threw down at the arm wrestling and won some tires.
Skip and I rolled out of Manistee around 7 am and got back to Lincoln around 8:30 - 9 pm. Fourteen hours in a car sounds bad, but it wasn't bad at all. Time goes by quickly when you have a good buddy to chat with. I don't recall us ever running out of things to chat about. That's one of the reasons I love doing these events. It gives me a chance to hang out with some super cool people. Skip and I chatted about next year. Sounds like we'll definitely be back next year and maybe make a few more in the race series. Guess we better start planning now.
Big shout out to all the Founders Ale team, race organizers, race volunteers, all the racers and support crews, and the city of Manistee, Michigan. Thanks again!