I really didn't know what to expect. In the past I've read in articles about races. I watched almost all the UCI Redbull XC and DH coverage last year. So add all that up and I don't know much about racing. I researched several topics few days before the race about what to eat, what to wear and how to warm up before hand. I knew I wasn't going to put on a super performance. I haven't put as much time in on the bike as I should have. I just wanted to pass on a little knowledge on to Joab. Because we were in the same boat. Our first bike race ever. The only difference is that I had waited 27 years to do it.
Joab found the race. He had mentioned wanting to race many times. Like a good father I ignored him till I couldn't take it anymore. I told him that if he wanted to race, he needed to find us a race that was close we could go to. With in the next couple hours his want for racing had been replaced with the desire to compete in the Gowdy Grinder. It was close, the date was open, and not to expensive. How could i say no. What's another race when I was already planning two this summer. Sure it's a XC endurance race instead of a long gravel race...what does that matter. Turns out more then you might think.
Just like the name implies the Gowdy Grinder is in Curt Gowdy state park. One of our favorite Mtn.biking destinations. It's close and has great trails. Having the race here was a huge plus. We knew where to camp, where to get water, how to get there...etc. Took a lot of guess work out of the planning. Joab's soccer games that were scheduled for Saturday before the race were canceled. That let us go up the day before and try to acclimatize a little bit. It also allowed us to pre-ride the course. It was windy and cool. Not ideal camping conditions but we've seen worse. We did more then just pre-ride the course. We added on some climbing and a few runs around the skills park. I knew I should be taking it easy but It was our first time out on the bikes this year and I couldn't help myself. I was done for the day, but Joab was still chomping at the bit. Wanting to go more. We settled in, had a nap in the warm car, just kind of hung out at camp for awhile. I was hoping the wind would let up so I could cook dinner. After many hours of waiting it was evident that the wind wasn't going down. On top of everything else it looked like it might actually rain. Knowing it wasn't going to get any better I started making supper. Just a little heads up. Cooking spaghetti noodles in a Jet boil isn't easy. Finding a low enough setting is next to imposable. So I had to "feather" the gas knob on the Jet Boil to get it to boil water with out boiling every all over. It turned out very good. Joab and I had a wonderful spaghetti dinner and then got to bed early.
Morning of the race and the wind still hadn't subsided. I reminded myself it was Wyoming and the wind does tend to blow a lot here. We ate a decent breakfast, packed up camp and moved over to Aspen Groove. Picked up our number plates and warmed up a bit. Intermediate men started at 10am. So we lined up at about 5 till. We were toward the back of the pack. Which I didn't have a problem with. I wish I could have gotten Joab a little closer to the front of the pack. He might have placed a little better. The race started and we waited for the room to pedal in the crowd. First thing we start climbing up a hill into the 20mph wind. Joab's legs evidently were in much better shape then mine. My legs just didn't see like they wanted to work. There was just nothing there. I could spin but there just wasn't any power. Most of the pack had moved well away from me by the time we hit the single track. My one saving grace was that I had five inches of suspension and could fly over most of the rocky technical parts. No well picked line for me. Just fly over it and let the travel eat. I just told myself to keep going. Don't stop. Even if I'm at a snails pace. Just keep moving forward.
Joab ended up finishing a good ten minutes before me. I didn't finish last. I'll just say that. It should be noted that there is however much room for improvement. I had a great time and it was a experience. I'll be doing another race of a different kind in a month or so. If I even finish that one, I'll be so proud. Stay tuned....