I’m finally getting a chance to put this into words. It’s always crazy to me how work gets nuts right before races and immediately after. While it’s good for physical recovery as it forces me to sit at my desk for longer periods of time it totally kills me motivation to do much else.
It’s always harder to write about races when almost everything goes right and that was the case for the Hundo. I already wrote my training leading up to the race in my last post and I was feeling confident and ready on the starting line. I was shooting for a “form” (TSB) in the 30s and nailed that!
I knew who the pro guys were, some of which were on the podium the year before, and one of them was the guy that won it last year. My goal off the start was to stay with the front pack off the line and for as long as I could. I hadn’t ridden the first 12 miles of the course so I was kind of flying blind which always a disadvantage in mountain bike racing and even more so when you are racing guys that have. The first 7 miles were a mix of road, gravel road, and some off trail riding through these random meadows. I successfully stayed with the front pack and after a few miles it was just 3 of us… me and two guys racing pro who finished 1st and 4th overall the year before.
At around mile 7 we ripped on to the Colorado Trail. I had a accomplished my first goal: get away from all the other non-pros before we hit the single track. On a course like the Bailey Hundo it’s easy to get out of sight… which tends to lead to out of mind. It wasn’t too hard for me to stay with those guys on the fireroads but I knew as we started descending tight, twisty, loose singletrack, that I had never ridden before, I’d probably get dropped. I consider myself a “good” technical mountain biker but my weakness is for sure super loose dirt/sand over hard pack… especially when I haven’t had a chance to pre ride…. and that describes about 90% of the Bailey Hundo course. With this in mind I wasn’t going to take any risks trying to stay with them that early in the race I wanted to keep building my gap on everybody else.
I was feeling great and riding steady and made sure to eat plenty early on. I knew as the day got hotter it would be harder to get in cals. My legs felt great and I was looking forward to seeing Maggie for the first time at the mile 28 aid station. around mile 20 i was having some issues with my fork. It totally bottomed out and was stuck all the way down…. great. after a couple miles of riding bottomed out I stopped and was able to pull my fork all the way back up and it was working fine… weird. I got to mile 28 right on schedule and got two new bottles and more food and kept rolling. I was just riding steady…. and not trying to go too hard with the long day ahead.
To me the “Little Scraggy” loop was going to be the hardest part of the day. It’s slow going, hot, and the most technical. I knew once I made it through that section the rest of the race would be a bit faster and easier. I was stoked to make it through that section at a good clip and then I got surprise visit from Maggie at mile 47 (I wasn’t supposed to see her again until mile 68). She told me I was about 5′ & 7′ down on the leaders and I had a 10′ gap on closest guys behind me at mile 28. I kept the (steady) hammer down on the next long fireroad section before starting he second lap. My energy was steady and I was feeling good.
At the start of the second lap I crossed paths with a solid group of guys in the Hundito (50 miler). They were moving well just ahead of me and I used them as motivation. I was 51 miles in they were 12. I was able to hang with them and then eventually pass all of them along the course. My legs were still good. Again just steady riding and no Hundo racers in sight ahead of me or behind. More steady riding, eating, and drinking. Nothing exciting but that was a good thing to me. A few miles before the mile 68 aid station I took a minor digger. I just slid out in a turn. I scraped up my shin/calf but nothing major… just a good wake up call. Right before the aid station my fork bottomed out again and I had to stop and pull it all the way back up again and then it was good.
At the aid I got more bottles and food and was then started the nice kitty climb for the second time. It was getting hot but luckily we had some wind and cloud cover keeping it from being too hot. My fork acted up one more time on the climb so I stopped to fix it and then it was fine for the rest of the race. I was picking up some hundito racers up the climb and then Maggie surprised me again at the mile 73 aid station… this time it wasn’t just to say Hi. She told me that the next guy behind me had closed the gap from 15′ to 8′ over that last section. That for sure lit fire under me but I was still feeling really good.
At that point I knew I wouldn’t get to the leaders and I picked up the pace from there but didn’t go all out. I figured if somebody was putting in a huge effort to get to me that they would be pretty spent if they did because I was still riding well. So while I was riding a bit harder I wanted to save some matches. My plan was that if anybody caught me I’d have some gas left in the tank and I would immediately attack them.
Thankfully it didn’t come down to that. I road steady and continued to pick hundito riders all the way to finish which is a great feeling when you have 50 more miles in your legs than they do. I ended up finishing 3rd Overall, 1st non-pro, and won my category (30-39). I am super stoked with the result even if it was a little anticlimactic and I didn’t get to do too much head to head racing. My teammates also crushed. Jason Hilgers finished 4th overall and won the singlespeed division… yes… 4th overall on a singlespeed… tough as nails! Young buck Mark Currie got 3rd overall in the Hundito and a nice pay day to go with it.
I can’t than Maggie enough for supporting in my training and on race day. She was up with me at 3am on race day and on her feet all day crewing for me and then wrangling Fi at the finish line. She then went on to wake up at 3am on Sunday and take the win at the Mt Evans ascent (highest road race in america) while Fi and I demolished pancakes at the lodge (you can’t really spectate as the road is closed)!
So it was an awesome weekend for us… and the summer is just getting started. Next up is the Firecracker 50 on the 4th of July in Breckenridge. I’m not sure how it’s going to go coming off Bailey Hundo and I’m gonna keep rolling through because I’ve decided to take my slot at the Leadville 100 MTB that I earned for winning Sliver King last year. Back to the grind… but my training won’t be as bike centric as my build up to the Hundo. I need to get my running legs back under because I need to pace Maggie at the Leadville 100 run the weekend after 100 MTB. Pacing her is my number goal for the second half of the summer so running will be back on the schedule… and I’m looking forward to it.