Gettin’ it done at the 2013 Gunnison Growler.

This marks four years in a row for me at the Gunnison Growler and my best course time so far. Feeling better than last year where I started the race feeling feverish and lethargic only to withdraw at the ½ point, I felt fresh at the start and actually felt okay after the first lap.

As usual, the race started at 7AM with calm clear skies and a cool temperature of 37 degrees F. The neutral start was very neutral this year, although that allowed for a lot of crazy action of people trying to get to the front only to be blown completely backwards once the race hit the dirt at Kill Hill.

The first lap went a little slower than I wanted, on some fast sections where I could have easily gone faster I was stuck behind slower racers and could not pass due to the terrain.

Coming through the 18 mile aid at Skull Pass I took some bacon. Mmmmm, that tasted good for about  minute then it seemed really bitter! 45 minutes later, as I was getting near to the Top of the World, for some bizarre reason I lost my chain. It seems the magnet for cadence/power came unglued and went through the drivetrain jamming in the rear pulleys while at the same time the chain wedged between the bottom bracket and inner chainring. That was a huge time suck getting all that unraveled. I had quite a few people pass me as the minutes ticked away, Finally I got everything going again and that problem did not reappear.

The entire race I did on a faulty fork, a Rockshox SID XX WC. First, before the race I noticed it was only extending to 80mm when it is a 100mm fork. That alone was not a disaster. Then I noticed that it had no compression, it mostly just blew through the travel and bottomed out on the crown unexpectedly. That was the bad part! So for much of lap two I rode a lot of it with the fork locked out, I did not want to slam the carbon crown too many times as I was afraid it might shatter. This definitely cause me to ride a few sections a bit more cautiously than I could have. Oh well, I think I’m done with RockShox and have a Magura replacement on the way!

Early in the second lap, near the end of the RattleSnake trail, I discovered I had not been drinking enough fluids and started cramping. I counted that I only went through two bottle of fluids on lap one, definitely not enough and I paid for it! Before even making it to the next aid station I went through two more bottles of drink and took in about 600mg of extra sodium. By the time I made it to the aid station, I was over the cramping for the most part, but rode carefully and at quite a low effort until I exited Skull Pass for the second time.

Two crashes in this race is about normal for anyone. Lucky for me I kept it at two. The first one I skinned my arm real good but other than the burning it was not a big deal. The second crash, about 3 or 4 miles from the finish, I found my legs too tired to clear a rock and toppled over a 3-4ft fall. That one hurt, bruised my hip and back, plus did the first cosmetic damage to my newest bike.

Ending the ridge line climb on the new TailPipe trail was a much better way than previous years of using the old jeep road, but I was so glad to get to the parking area at the top of Kill Hill to bomb down the death defying washed out looser than sh!t descent to the finish. I just kept thinking, please don’t crash 30 seconds from the finish line!

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