I had a tough time sleeping the night before this ride. The last minute venue change had me nervous that no one would show up AND it was raining off and on all night. When I woke up, it was a torrential downpour and there were already posts at 5am from riders wondering if we were on. On the drive out my phone was buzzing with questions about the ride. I did my best to get the message ‘it’s ON, Burnett is dry’ but driving through the apocalyptic storm required some attention.
In a testament to Central Texas rider’s overall gnarliness, 40 (!) riders braved the weather to come out to a venue that was much harder than the ride they’d been training for. We rounded up the riders, got them registered and started our first group just after 8.
My first lap felt good and I rounded the finish about a minute before the lead group was heading out. John Russell called to me to ride with them but I knew I couldn't maintain their pace. I made up my Infinit and hopped on the bike. On my way out I saw Al coming in – he’d started in the 2nd group so I knew he was making really good time. The second lap I rode a bit with Colvin and Schaller but we got separated at some point (it’s blurry). Got to chat a bit with Antonio who had had a lap from hell and was walking his crippled bike (bummer). 3rd lap fatigue was starting to kick in and the heat was getting to me. The sun would blaze out at different times for the rest of the day and any time you were over the slickrock it was like riding a hotplate. Stifling is too mild a word for the combo of the sun above, radiant rock below and the rising steam. At the end of my 3rd lap I took a long break to try to get my core temperature down. I was dumping ice water over my head and it still took me ~10 minutes of that for my head to stop throbbing. Popped some Advil and extra electrolytes, chugged a bunch of ice water, dumped my Infinit into my pack and headed out for the 4th lap. By this time I was walking most of the technical climbs to prevent flubbing a line, panic-dabbing and cramping a calf. The 4th lap definitely felt better than the 3rd but it was hotter. The 5th lap brought some reprieve from the sun since it was well past its zenith. Also, every time I passed a rock feature or a climb I got to say “I won’t have to ride this bastard again for a year” so that helped a lot. I felt like I was barely making any forward progress for the last half of the 5th lap, crawling along in granny. Near the end of the race loop I heard brakes behind me – Johnny was closing in fast. Russell would normally be hours in front of me, but he’d had a really freaky forearm cramp during his 2nd lap that worried him so he was just doing a chill pace for the last 3 laps (his ‘chill’ pace made up 30 minutes on my ‘I’m about to barf up my soul’ pace). With Johnny on my tail and 3 miles to go I dug down into whatever I had left and rolled across the finish line with 2 minutes to spare before Johnny came through.
Interesting comparison for Austin mountain bikers: the Enchilada Buffet took me 9:47 (8:18 moving time) to cover 82 miles. This ride took me 10:13 (8:57 moving time) to cover 62 miles.
Thanks again to Todd and Tony for scouting the course knowing they’d probably have to take a DNF the day of the race to get it done. Thanks to Gary for helping manage the crowds during the rain crisis. Thanks to Robert for taking the hit on his 4th and final lap to stop and pick up the race signs. Big thanks to Vol out at Reveille Peak Ranch for his willingness to help us with the emergency move. Finally thanks to all the riders who had the faith and the stones to come out and attempt this monster.