Saturday morning I headed to Granogue to do some trail work and ride a nice easy lap. I was met by Les the International Man of Mystery. After a short ride we loaded up and made our way to Michaux Maximus. I have never camped at a Michaux race before, but with an 8:00 am start it made sense. We were not alone as most folks taking on the 50 were camping as well. We hung out with Jamie and his room mate Scott, along with Wheelie Ted.
The competition in the single speed class was going to be tough. With names like, Les, Elk, Rasta Tim, Buck Kiech, Ed Bush, Topher, Jamie Huber, Jamie Bock, and countless other fast guys.
Finally it was time to hit the sack, now I never sleep well when I am camping, and this night would be no different. After a few hours of laying awake I had finally fallen a sleep. All of the sudden the wind started picking up. It was weird, you could hear coming across the ridge, then Wham, it would hit our area. Well the second big gust blew my tent over with me in it. So I found myself half asleep trying to put my tent back up in the middle of the night, needless to say I didn't get much sleep after that.
Time to race, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel, so I had a plan. Find a comfortable tempo, ride for the first 15-20 miles and see how I was feeling. The start was pretty mellow, everybody realized it was going to be a long race. After a few miles of fire road we hit the single track. I was feeling good but got caught behind some folks that were having a tough time in the rocks. Once I got around them I found my tempo and started moving up. A couple miles in I saw Les fixing his first of 3 flats, I knew it wouldn't be long until he passed me again. Sure enough about 12 miles in Les caught and passed me, then right after that I heard that dreaded HSSSSSSSSSSSSS. sound coming from my rear tire. I have raced Michaux many times and this was my first flat. I stopped to try and get the Stan's to seal it up and add some air, but it wasn't going to work. I put a big gash in my sidewall. I through in my only tube along with a wrapper to boot the gash, and was off again. I was still feeling good, then came Dead Women's Hollow, for those of you not familiar with Michaux, it's a 3 mile grass fire road climb, with a few really steep sections. I actually found a rhythm and was climbing well. I hit the first steep pitch and managed to ride over it. I walked the next 2 steep sections but that was it. At the top was the first of 3 fully stocked aid stations. I took full advantage, grabbed some food, and gels for later, refilled my bottle with Cytomax, and headed out again. Surprisingly I was still feeling good. I was bombing down this rocky downhill when I heard that dreaded HISSSSSSSSSSSSS, coming from my rear tire again. Fuck, why did I leave my other spare tube at home. At least I had a patch kit. After a longer than I would have liked repair I was off again, but I had lost my aggressiveness on the down hills, I just didn't want to flat again. I think there were two ore long fire road climbs then I hit aid station 3. I loaded up on water, more food and even had half a beer. I was now 35 miles in. Jake said it would be 1:45- 2:00 to the finish. The next section of single track was awesome. The folks that opted for the 25 miler missed some sweet trails. I was now starting to feel rough. It seemed like it was long fire road climb followed by steep fast down hill.
I came up to Graveyard Ridge. At the start of the ridge there are a couple of steep, loose rocky climbs. There were several people that had passed me while I was fixing flats, walking. I was determined to make the climbs and did. I rode the ridge better than I ever have, only one dab. The other big rocky ridge on this course is Rattle Snake Ridge, again I rode well, I didn't clean some of the steep ups, but rode the rest pretty smooth. I have to say my Spot 29er single speed seemed to smooth things out today. I remembered the descent from Rattle Snake. Last year it was freshly cut and not very ridable, this year it was. Really steep, tight switch backs, the whole way down, my ass was so tight you couldn't drive a pin up it with a jackhammer.
Next stop was the last aid station. I was hurting, but the guys there gave me a couple swigs of Trogues Pale Ale and I was off. I was now only 6 miles from the finish. 4 miles of gentle grade climbing and 1 mile of rocks and it was home free. I was cruising up the last climb then made the turn into the last bit of single track when some guy wanted to race me. Si I decided he wasn't going to catch me, I through caution to the wind and took off. I flew over the last bit of racks then hit the short fire road to the finish. I was cruising in, happy to be done, when some clown looks back sees me and starts to sprint. First he was on gears and not in my class, second, what was he going to gain by sprinting for 30th or 40th place over all.
I pulled in and Les handed me a beer, sweet. When I went to to this race I was hoping to finish in under 6:30, well I finished in 6:20 with 2 flats, and when I checked my actual ride time it was 5:40, so I was pretty happy with the way I rode. I don't know where I finished in my class, but I wasn't racing anybody out there I was racing against Michaux.
Congrats to Jamie Huber for taking the win in the single speed class. Buck was second, Topher 4th and Les 5th. Elk unfortunately broke his frame early in the race. Good job to everybody that finished the 5o miler, that was an accomplishment in itself.
More random thoughts on the race.
First, thanks to the folks at Geetysburg Bicycle and Fitness and all of there volunterrs for putting on what I thought was the best run Michaux race so far.
As hard as this race was, I still think last years Teaberry race was harder.
Next up French Creek.