6:50 am: A dozen or so racers were huddled in Crossroads Coffee seeking warmth and respite from the rain. The scheduled 7 am roll out turned into a reluctant 7:30 am roll out.
Todd Green, Wilson Hale and myself made an early break and worked our way through the turns and check points. With a steady rain falling it was necessary to keep in mind the spirit of competition and route integrity, but also good trail stewardship. With that in mind, we opted to bypass a good portion of the oh-so-tempting but soggy singletrack.
Even with limited trail time there were still knee deep creek crossings, peanut butter-esque fire roads, and rail excursions to keep things really interesting.
We refueled and regrouped with the race director "Steve Justice" and a few of the "party pace" riders at an abandoned cabin just north of Henricus. That’s when things started to intensify. I realized that the longer we rode the slower my pace was getting while my smile was still going strong; meanwhile Todd and Wilson’s smiles were long gone and their pace was still super strong. Uh oh…..
After 8 hours in the rain and in the saddle we had completed all of the check points (Powhite Park, Dogwood Dell, Shockoe Valley, Poop Loop, Falling Bridge, Henricus Park, Kemp Street, Shiplock Park, Belle Isle) and the finish was in sight.
I made every effort I could to slow the pace and hang on. I attempted to distract them with conversation, I pointed out every bit of wildlife and scenery I could, and even made desperate (and futile) bribery attempts with snickers bars. No such luck!
A half a mile from the finish I lost sight of the Wiz Kid Wilson and Todd. Though I didn't get the chance to see it, I hear the sprint finish was a real "slug" fest up Forrest Hill. Wilson ended up bringing home the victory and the Baja 100- make that the Baja 85- trophy to 1717 Summit Avenue, as I coasted in for 3rd.
I am thankful to have shared a grueling yet equally great day in the rain with some of Richmond’s finest and toughest folks. I am looking forward to more adventures like the this one to come!
Stop by the studio to learn more about Wilson’s Baja secrets, including the Kona Big Unit and his ability to sprint during dueling quad cramps.