The First Snake

I rode my first Snake Creek Gap today. The conditions were right on point for every mountain bike race I’ve ever done: cold, muddy, stormy.

My race started, as most do, the day before with an easy ride over to storage to pick up my weapon of choice: the Salsa Beargrease.

After speaking with some veterans of the race, I came to the conclusion that the ideal [pre-race] strategy was to have a driver and forgo the bus shuttle to the start. This turned out to be crucial for me as it gave me the time I needed to convince my bowels to do their thing before there were enough people at the start area to form a line. It’s also really nice to finish a race and have someone waiting for you.

The forecast called for light rain during the event with increasing chances of thunderstorms as the day went on. The previous two days had dumped several inches of rain on the area so anything that wasn’t a rock was either mud or a creek. Almost the entire race was blanketed in a thick fog that held visibility at something like 15 meters. I suppose there were some incredible views along the ridge, maybe I’ll find out next time; I can say that the ambiance the fog created really helped me focus on the section of trail immediately ahead of me and not get distracted with ‘big picture’ worries.

Clearly the fat bike was the right choice. It definitely outperformed me today. Taking my propensity for choosing the worst possible line and laughing me through it. I found that many of the best lines in all but the gnarliest of rock sections was ‘straight ahead’. The tires gripped and pulled me up and over just about everything.

Having never ridden the race [or the trail] before, and having two more installments to complete this year, I decided to use this as a recon ride and took the whole race easy. I stopped to force down a few energy bars I made the night before (fig, cashew, peanut butter, cranberry), had enough discipline to remind myself to drink water regularly, and overall had a good time.IMG_5127

I had my share of sections I wasn’t able to clean, but I managed to stave off the psychological demoralization that so many I’ve talked to about this race seem to feel about the ‘never ending’ rock garden. Not to make it sound easy, I was certainly glad when the trail opened up and I was in the cul-de-sac leading to the final descent, but I was definitely expecting much worse, especially considering the ground conditions.

I’m looking forward to riding this again when I have some fitness and possibly dryer conditions and better visibility.

Today’s Ride:

Always be [un]prepared

Went out in the mud today, managed to puncture my sidewall, on both sides, in the last twenty yards of dirt section. Limped a few miles, trying to get to any place with a pump, then had to make the call-of-shame for a pickup. I’ve got all these bags on my bike and nothing resembling a tool or a pump or any means of repairing anything that should go wrong. I’ll fix this tomorrow morning.

Did some thinking while riding today, and I think I will burn my one life-gets-in-the-way card to push back the trip for a year. I want to do this right and I think doing it with someone I love would be far more enjoyable than doing it without.

But now I don’t just have to prepare myself, I have to prepare us. I suppose this summer could be a ride around the Idaho Hot Springs as a tune-up. I’ll continue my training, but now with an extra 12 months added on for tweaks.

…guess it’s time to start shopping for a new bike so I can have some company on my rides.

Today’s Ride:

The best laid plans

Smaller ride today but got some gravel/dirt in. Now that I’m a couple days into this blog and into my final turn of determination to do the Great Divide, I’ve found myself in a position to let life get in the way, possibly for the best.

The most challenging part of planning for this ride has been conscripting ride partners. And now that I’m making this ride officially official, my partner is feeling the stinky finger of life poking up her nose. She’ll be in nursing school full time for the next 18 months and has, up to this point, had no real qualms with my plans. Just this week however, she began to get a strong desire to ride along with me.

How can I say no to spending 6 weeks with someone I love spending time with anyway? How could I deny someone the opportunity to experience all that this journey may hold?

So it looks like I can add another 360+ days to the countdown timer… And start shopping for a bike for her.

Today’s Ride: