My new favorite first race of the season is the True Grit Epic 100 in St. George, Utah. This race has everything that I want in a mountain bike race, challenging and technical riding, fun fast sections of single track and a good amount of climbing, not to mention the incredible views of the surrounding Zion National Park.
The only problem with this race is that it’s in the middle of March, which is really early for me. I skipped a ton of powder skiing to get ready, and managed to get almost a month of riding before the race. But coming in I was treating it as a training race not really expecting a great result. The weather was going to be beautiful, sunny and temps in the mid 70’s. Things started off good and I was in the lead group for the first 4 or 5 miles of the race. Then things went south, when up a quick punchy climb my derailleur hanger snapped in half. I couldn’t believe what just happened and I took a couple seconds to stare in disbelief. After the reality set in I started to walk and coast my way back to an aid station. At the aid one of the workers was nice enough to give me a ride back to the start and my car where I could get a new hanger and at least get a good ride in.
By the time I got everything sorted out it was a little after 9:30, an hour and a half after I had started. I went to work from the start again, but had to work my way through at least 100 50-mile racers, but I just patiently made my way through. The hanger I had put on was a little bent so my bike was not real happy about things and would not ride in the top 4 gears so in the faster sections I was spun out.
On the second lap just when I looking forward to the end of the race, I suffered a broken chain while riding into a crazy head wind, of course I carry a chain tool and fixed it fairly quickly, I began to think my resolve was being tested but there wasn’t anything that was going stop me from finishing. I pulled into the finish over 9 hours after the first start, but the feeling of pushing through and just finishing the race was just as good as ending up on the podium because I defeated that little voice in my head that said “you can’t”.