True Grit 2013
Last month, Terry R traveled to Utah and raced True Grit. The technical xc mountain bike race pushed his skills to levels as chronicled is this report. Makes you almost want to try it, (huh?).
I’m glad I arrived in St. George, UT four days early to pre-ride the course. The course consisted of Zen Trail, the Bear-Claw Poppy Trail, Stucki Springs Trail, The Rim Runner, and the Barrel Rolls Trail (2 loops). I rode through sandy washes, over sandstone and rock out-croppings, over and around large boulders, through fast and flowy single track, and up steep climbs to the top of 4 different ridges.
On Tues. I pre-rode Zen Trail (the most technical) and was very concerned about racing through it, but by Friday I had ridden, and cleared, every technical section of the course. I was confident and ready to go Saturday. Until my coach/brother-in-law told me this would be the toughest 50 mile race I would do.
I almost missed the start of my division because it was hard to hear the race director. Luckily I decided to take my arm warmers off and give them to my Sister-in-Law. She was standing by the start line and the race director told me that the 50+ had just started. I took off and caught the back of the pack, settled in and started to get my rhythm. We had some long climbs and fast double track decents prior to hitting the Zen Trail loop. I was amazed how many people I passed on the double track, I felt great and the bike felt great! Next up, the Zen Trail! I cleared the first few technical sections and drops. The third drop my front tire came to a dead stop and I went down fairly hard…I lost all confidence after that and walked the rest of the major technical sections that I had just ridden the day before, it was very frustrating.
I finally made it through Zen! Used the long climb to the Bear Claw Poppy Trail to recover (very strange to be recovering on a climb). That was a blast! I got behind two guys that were going just the right pace and made up a lot of ground that I had lost on Zen.
Next came Stuki Springs Trail and it started to get very warm. Stuki Springs was fast, rolling hills with a few short, steep climbs. It was long and hot.
After Stuki Springs came, The Rim Runner. The Rim Runner was a “lolly pop” loop that had a long moderate climb followed by a long fast decent. It was a good change of pace after Stuki Springs. By then I was beginning to feel a bit tired, but I still had two loops of Barrel Roll followed by a long, fast, mostly downhill run to the finish.
I rode the first loop of Barrel Roll without crashing. The second loop I wasn’t so lucky. I made it through the most technical section (walked) and was climbing to the summit. I saw a little stair step, about a foot high, that I was sure I could clear. My front tire made it over but the rear tire decided to stop. I couldn’t clip out of the right side so, of course, I started falling to the right, on top of a big boulder that slanted downhill. My leg ended up between my frame and handlebars. I was stuck and no one was around. Finally I was able to maneuver my left leg around and pushed my bike off me, dusted off, and took off.
I felt good the last seven miles, passed some more people (made sure I passed and stayed ahead of anyone with grey hair). Then 500 yards before the finish line I felt something hitting my leg, looked down, and saw my spare tube dangling dangerously close to my crank…whew. I grabbed it and came in to the finish line. I finished 15th in my category which consisted of all riders over 50, Cat, 1, Cat. 2 (my category), and Cat. 3.
I have a feeling this was the toughest 50 mile race I’ll ever do!