Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cross Epic

A 25 mph gravel train

Last Thursday I broke my self-imposed rule of no more road racing until after Leadville (in order to minimize the risk of pre-Lead injury) by scrambling off to Seward Park to race in the weekly throw down.  The race was crowded and fast, as the normally informal event had been converted into a full-on legit contest complete with announcers, an official start/finish line, a beer garden and even a giant screen onto which, after dark, the day’s double ascent of Alp d’Huez was going to be projected to the Tejay chanting masses.  After a race and a straight to my head beer Chad and I were cruising too fast up Lake Washington Blvd when he asked if I was doing the Cross Epic.

I’d never heard of the Cross Epic.

Thirty six hours later I was in the parking lot of Motofish Studios in Redmond straddling a cross bike coated in November dust about to embark on a 52 mile cyclocross race.  Oh yeah I’d also forgot my glasses and repair kit.

At 7:30 we were off for a fairly caz rollout to what the Motofish dudes called the Tuscany Loop, and within a few minutes I was questioning my theory of being able to both ride 50 off road miles and picking up my wife at the airport at 10:30.  I pulled out my phone and made a quick rolling text - “might be a little late.”  Everything was friendly until the Loop, at that point the gloves came off.

We were on some great trails and the pace was hot, a few rabbits were gone but Chad, myself and another teammate, Trevor – on his single speed Nature Boy - hung tight with the second group.  The pace was blistering, you really couldn’t give an inch or you’d be out the back.  Chad ended up double flatting, so by the time we started the descent into Snoqualmie Valley it was just Trevor and myself wearing the red and black.
Carnation aid station

The brakes on old Blue ain’t what they used to be, so I was grabbing a handful as we dropped into the Valley, good thing too as one of the rabbits had hit a bump and broken his carbon steer tube.  The guy was tough, but you could tell he was in pain, we all stopped to see what we could do, which was not much.  It’s times like these when I wish I would have switched majors and gotten that medical degree – I could have shouted “stand back I’m a doctor.”

We hit the Snoqualmie Valley trail with a vengeance, we were a 25 mile per hour train dusting all dog walkers and shirtless joggers in our path.  It isn’t often that one gets to rail like that on a cross bike.  Hats off to the other trail users: nobody complained and we even had a few cheers.

In Carnation we stopped by an aid station set up by the wife and kids of one of the Motofish guys.  They had those mini cans of Coke on ice, I couldn’t resist.
A classic case of Helmet Hair

From Carnation it was up up up to Joy Lake.  Damn what a climb.  We dropped back into the Valley and on a short section of tarmac a strong guy from Audi went down and started rolling towards the centerline as a Dodge Diesel roared towards him in the opposite lane.  Luckily he stopped the rolling, but man I saw his life flash before my eyes.

 What followed had to be one of the top three steepest climbs of my life.  From there we hit the Pipeline trail and tore like hell back to the Motofish Studios.  I don’t think that my legs had ever felt so strong, it seemed like there was no bottom to the well.  I kept asking more of my legs and they kept delivering the goods; definitely a good confidence builder now that I’m within three weeks of Leadville.

I pulled into the start/finish parking lot tired, dirty and happy.  Melony ended up taking a taxi from the airport.

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