True Grit Epic Santa Clara, Utah 2015
I’d heard this was a fun bike race: tons of single track, beautiful scenery, and a long day on the bike. I watched the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFPOtPkivgM) and it looked pretty tough but I was still sold. As I started to talk to people about the the race I kept getting the same response, “dude that course is no joke” “you can really mess yourself up out there.” I shook it off. It’s a mountain bike race, of course it’s hard. And, I’m so sick of racing Bonelli this seemed like a nice alternative.
It wasn’t until I pre-rode the Zen Trail section of the course the night before the race that I really started to fear for my life. We don’t have much rocky riding in Southern California and it was clear pretty fast that I was out of my element. There were two and three foot drops, overhanging ledges, one and two foot step ups, loose razor sharp rocks, cacti everywhere, and no room for error. I knew there were a few spots I’d have to get off the bike but the question was how much time I’d lose. It’s one thing to hit some super technical trails with your buddies on the weekend, it’s another thing to crush them at full speed…twice… many hours into a race. I went to bed hoping I’d still have teeth at the end of the day.
The 100 mile race started in downtown Santa Clara, a quaint sleepy Utah town, at 8am. There was a brief race meeting and we lined up. I did a little bit of a warmup but really with a 7+ hour race I try to keep the legs fresh. These ultra endurance races aren’t exactly a sprint out of the gate (with the exception of Leadville).
The field split quickly. We were on pavement, then fireroad and a few climbs later we were all spread out. I was in a group of 5 off the front with Keck Baker, Cary Smith, Josh Tostado, and Brent Pontius. Brent and I did a little jockeying for a bit but once we hit the Barrel Trail it was clear my lack of technical skills and decision to ride a hardtail were going to cost me a bit.
The first three guys disappeared on the Zen Trail as I struggled to keep up. It was definitely a full suspension course as the rocky climbs forced constant sitting and standing to bump over. By the time we hit the Bear Claw/Poppy Trial Brent and I were neck and neck and chatting to pass the time as we rode miles of epic single track that were as smooth and flowy as Robbie’s pump track. The next 30 miles ticked by and it wasn’t until the second lap on the Zen Trail that trouble struck. We were about 60 miles in and my legs began to charlie horse as I struggled up the most technical climb of the day. There was bike pushing on boulders, some electrolytes, and teeth gritting. As I fought through some stair step climbs at the top Gordon Wadsworth and and AJ Linnell flew by. Crap. I hate getting passed. It was a low point as I bumped and cramped along, trying to keep out of the saddle to stretch the legs but trying not to endo.
The rest of the race was a painful blur and repeating cycles of dehydration, water guzzling, and popping Endurolytes. It was hard not having support and there was definitely some wasted time in the feed zones but it was time well spent. It was a tough day to say the least and the finish downtown could not have come sooner. Overall I was happy with 7th place for overall 100 Open Men. There were some amazing riders out there that had a mastery of the trail and it was a pleasure to watch them work their magic.