• REPORT: True Grit 100

    It's been a very long time since I've updated.  Since the last event of 2013, the 100-miler in Costa Rica, I have been getting through another winter in the Vail Valley.  With nearly 5 feet of snow touching the ground here in Eagle, CO, backcountry xc skiing was the name of the game this winter.  In addition to the long ski days, I have been getting in some 1 hr days on the trainer.

    With the longer winters here in the CO high country, to motivate for the season, I eyed the True Grit 100 in St. George, UT.  The TG100 is the opener of the National Ultra Series and the kick off for most riders.  I knew this race would be difficult, as it is very technical from start to finish.  In preparation for the event, I did a handful of 3-day training camps in St. George and Moab in Feb and in March.  Coming out of both of those camps I felt I was more than ready to take on the TG100.

    Going into the race, I felt physically ready to have a good race.  Mentally I was excited to race! I knew the course, as I had pre-rode it in Feb.  I chose to ride my Canyon Nerve AL 29er full suspension, as it worked well with the course chunk and funk.  The only downfall to that bike, was the weight.  It was an alumn bike rather than newer carbon, weighing in at about 26 lbs.

    The 8 AM start saw over 50 Pro men toe the start line.  My plan was to ride my race....never pushing too hard into the red zone.  When the gun went off, the group took off up the opening hill.  Eventual winner, Drew Edsell, set the pace.  For me, I sat in about 15th place as we rolled out to the singletrack.  As we covered ground, I moved up into the Top 10 of the field.  The lead riders were in sight, but not within chasing distance.  I went about my business riding the opening loops and then Zen.  On the Zen Trail, I was with one other rider.  The leaders in front of me were out of sight....and those behind me were close, but not biting at my heels.  As I picked my way through Zen I soon found myself solo.  For the rest of my day I would be solo only occasionally seeing riders in front of me.

    Moab - March 2014

    After Zen I grabbed a fresh bottle and climbed up and over to the Bear Claw Poppy singletrack.  After finishing this trail it was time for the Stucki Springs climbs into a brutal headwind.  It was a beast of a wind that slowed all the riders.  Here is where I caught Justin Lindine....who appeared to be cramping on the side of the trail.  I asked if he needed anything.  He said "No".  I pushed on.

    Next up was a lollipop loop on Rim Rambler.  It was here where I saw my true placing.  Coming into this trail I met the riders that were in 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  They were just finishing the section of trail I was starting.  GREAT!  I knew I was in 6th place currently with about 45 miles to race.  I finished this trail and made my way to over to Barrel Roll....the last singletrack loop before the dirt road back to start the final race lap.

    On Barrel Roll I only saw 2 riders, the leaders; Edsell and Smith.  They had about 20 minutes on me.  Barrel Roll is one of my favorite St. George trails.  Having ridden this trail a bunch, it didn't take long to complete it.  Again, I was solo on this trail....as I was most of the day.  Out of Barrel Roll I stopped at the aid station to grab a fresh bottle of GU and a gel flask of GU.  All my water was on my back in my Ergon BX1.  I left the aid station following the course markings, which now were a mix of orange ribbon and white chalk.  After a section of singletrack, we then began a long  section of dirt road.  This is when everything went to hell for me....and a handful of other riders.

    Riding solo down the road I came to race volunteer...or what I though was a volunteer...that was redirecting racers to go a different route other than I had pre-rode in Feb.  I had no reason to second guess it, as the white chalk was marking the turn and the volunteer was wearing a True Grit 100 event hat.  I made the right turn....instead of what I though was a left....and began pushing down another jeep road followed by a few steep climbs.  As I headed north....instead of south....I was second guessing all of this.  But, I would always see tire tracks...so I kept racing forward.  Eventually, I found myself back at the Barrel Roll trailhead and aid station.  WTF!!!!  This obviously wasn't right.  Knowing where I was I quickly got back on course....the same section of course I rode 20 minutes earlier.  I couldn't wait to get back to the course marshal and tell them they are sending riders the wrong way.  Once back to that spot, the course marshal was gone and the white powder course markings had been wiped away.  WTF!!!!

    Mentally, this crushed me.  I was so angry.  Two things that rarely effect me....especially while competing. Here I was in 6th place....and now back in the 20's. What the hell just happened?  Why would someone do this.  I continued on in the race stating Lap 2.  This whole time I mentally shut down.  I was unmotivated to try to chase.  Running through my head I questioned why me and what if others?  Normally I never do this and just keep pushing on, but for some reason I could not.  I finished about 10 miles of Lap 2 before I had enough.  I decided enough was enough and called it a day....basically because I was mentally crushed by some jerks decision to alter other riders race experience.  It was my decision and my decision only to stop, and I have to live with it. I broke one of my golden race rules.....don't stop racing unless you cross the finish line or are told to stop by the race organizers.

    Later in the day, the racers would find out that a racer....who got their race bag and #.....but decided not to race and volunteer instead was mis-informed and was sending riders off course.  This happened to a handful of riders there were a head of me and behind me.  Was it intentional?  Highly unlikely, but know one really knows.

    Needless to say, physically I was ready for the TG100, but not mentally.  Not an ideal way to start the 2014 season, but it is good to get the bad mojo and funk out of the way.  A BIG lesson learned.  Funny to think after all these years of pinning on a race number, every race offers a new learning experience.

    Next up, more prep and the Whiskey Off-Road....which doubles as a work and race event.