the Sweep….

Last weekend I headed up to Butte, Montana to race in the Butte 100 MTB race.  The drive up was beautiful and Thursday evening we camped on the Idaho/Montana border.  The next morning we descended into Montana’s wide sweeping valleys and followed it’s beautiful rivers.  We went through one small town in particular by the name of Wisdom.  It was an interesting little crossroads town with a mercantile store that had the most provocative image of Pocahontas that I’ve ever seen.  Anyway, we had breakfast, checked out the local shops and headed on toward Butte.

Friday afternoon was filled with race registration, a short spin, a racers meeting, dinner, and prepping food and hydration for the following day.  With a 6 a.m. start, you kind of want to have everything done the night before so that you don’t have to think too much in the morning before the race.

The race took off and immediately climbed up a steep ATV trail and down a nasty steep ATV trail descent.  We did this a couple of times before we finally headed north along the front range of the hills.  At this point, it was around 7 a.m. and there was one of the most incredible sunrises I’ve ever witnessed.  As the sun came up, there was a massive thunderhead probably 50 miles to the west that was being illuminated every shade of red imaginable as the sun peeked over the horizon to reveal the day.  To top it off, there were also a group of four horses who had escaped their confines to escort us down the road.  The bike riders were in the borrow pit on one side of the road riding on an ATV trail and the horses were running in the borrow pit on the other side of the road.  They galloped along beautifully and about 1 mph faster than we were.  After a couple of miles they had passed the entire field at which point they grew bored with the game and veered off.  It was an incredibly beautiful start to the day.

The leisure section of the course came to an end soon enough and we found ourselves on the first of what seemed like at least 20 different climbs that we would see over the course of the day.  The non-motorized single track sections of the course were phenomenal.  The ATV trail portions were a little less special (read: they sucked) consisting of steep rutted out double track climbs and descents on trails that were trashed and obviously receive no maintenance.

Anyway, two of my teammates (Pete & Mike) and I regrouped at the second aid station and rode together for the next bit.  It was great to ride with my friends and forget that we were “racing” for a little while.  Coming into aid station 5 (there were 8 on the course) we caught up with the rider who we thought was in the lead at the moment.  A few miles later we caught up with another rider who actually was in the lead.  We passed that rider and quickly realized that we had better put on the pressure and keep the pace high to prevent either of those guys from coming with us.

Mike and I rode together most of the way to aid station 6.  After that, my legs were feeling pretty good, so I went ahead and put the “smackdown” on Mike and took the lead.  (It’s OK, Mike put the “smackdown” on me in the Galena Grinder the weekend before!)

The last 30 miles of the race contained the sweetest of the single track and also seemed more like 40-45 miles (I’m pretty sure it was).  I had a slow leak in my rear tire and spent the last 30 minutes of the race riding as “lightly” as possible.  In the end, I crossed the line in 11 hours 40 minutes for the win in the single speed class.  When all was said and done, Mike took 2nd and Pete took 3rd giving the Club Ride Apparel team our first “sweep” of the podium.  Not something I’d ever thought about, but pretty cool nonetheless.

Sunday morning we woke up and hit the road back to ktown.  We stopped off at the best coffee stand in Butte (Mountain Coffee) and then pointed the CRA van south.  Something about driving the open roads of the west is therapeutic for me.  I thoroughly enjoy it.  Many of my races (and a couple of rides) over the past month have all involved “road trips” with friends, which is what has made them that much more fun.  Flying to a race and staying in a hotel room really does kill what riding (and racing) are all about.  I’ll do it, sure.  But I would much rather hit the road with my crew and share the vibe of what mountain biking is really all about for me.

Thanks CRA for enabling that to happen.

Cheers

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~ by ketchumgreg on August 5, 2010.

2 Responses to “the Sweep….”

  1. That’s the way to do it. Great job out there. Which tires were you running? The WTB Wolverines?

    I heard Montana is beautiful. Never been. Yet. Someday soon.

    Colorado next week. Road trip from afar east. I’m excited.

    • Yup, Wolverines all the way. Actually, the same set that I’ve been running since just before the Firecracker 50 in Breck over July 4th. They’re pretty much toast now, but they do really well out here where there’s a mix of dusty, rocky, loose, hardpack, and wet at any given time.
      Dude, glad to see you’re healing up well! That sounded a bit scary, especially when it’s your face that takes the beating!
      I’m super bummed that I’m going to miss you guys in Breck. I was a twitch away from pulling the trigger when my work schedule got shifted around and f’d up the whole plan. I am heading down next week to Leadville though to crew for Reba in the LT100.
      Any plans on doing the Pisgah stage race? I’m looking at that one now and trying to figure out how to make it happen.
      P.S. – This goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway. If you ever do make it up to the northern rockies, you’re welcome to crash at our place. We have an extra bedroom and the riding in Sun Valley is pretty epic.

      Cheers

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