This year I am starting my race season a little earlier in anticipation of 24 Hour Nationals in June, so when the True Grit Epic became the season opener for the NUE series, I jumped on the opportunity. Getting ready for a race by the middle of March is not the easiest thing to do when you live in the mountains of Colorado, but I did what I could and luckily made a couple trips to the desert for some much needed training.
The weather was perfect in St. George, Utah with sunny skies and temps forecasted to be in the 80’s. I wasn’t sure how my fitness would stack up with the strong group of racers I was about to do battle with. From the start I jumped to the front to see how my pace would stack up and it seemed to be fast enough for everyone because nobody made any moves around me. After a bit of pace making I pealed off and let some other guys do some work and still the pace seamed slow. I jumped back to the front and before long it was Alex Grant and myself. We rode together for a bit then he started to pull away and I realized I had better chill out because there was a long, hard race to come.
I rode most of the first lap alone before Cary Smith, who looked to be riding really strong, joined me. I stayed with Cary for the beginning of the 2nd lap where we saw a desert tortoise wandering along the course! I started to feel fatigued and Cary slowly slipped away. I still had a good 2 hours of racing left and I needed to give it my all because I had Evan Plews and Jonathan Davis coming up behind me. I ended up holding on to 3rd place which I am very happy with given the amount of riding I had done up to this point and the strength off my competitors.
The True Grit Epic was a really fun race lots of challenging trail riding and beautiful scenery, I will definitely try to make it back next year for another go!