The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
I’ve been looking forward to this event all year. A free event close to my hometown that boasts over 7k feet of climbing and probably 70% singletrack? Sounds like an adventure.The laid back nature of the event is something I could really get used to.
The casual 7am start got us rolling down Rock Lake rRd for a few miles. A couple of flyers…I covered one before reminding myself that this is a 100 mile race. Managed to slide into the singletrack 4th wheel. 3rd wheel dropped a chain, before I know it there’s just three of us. Owen and Jonathan from MN were setting a solid pace through the singletrack on their 1 speeds so I just followed along. Ryan, also one of the race organizers, caught on a few miles later and the 4 of us rallied the Rock Lake and Hildebrand Lake singletrack like a couple of pals out on an afternoon ride. There were wide ranging topics of conversation that made the miles fly by.
As we hit rock lake road again it was time to refuel. The pace was still steady and as we rolled into the our first taste of ATV trail I turned the screw just a tad. I felt a gap opening just a little. As I entered the next bit of singletrack I upped the pace again. The gap continued to grow. As I popped out near the beginning of the Esker Trail I took a right onto ski trail and started hammering. After a few minutes of my Garmin yelling at me that I was off course I pulled out the map. Oops. The Garmin had been telling me I was off course quite a bit through the first 25 miles, even when on course. This time it was right. Hung a 180 and got back on course. As I neared the Esker Trail again I could hear Owen, Jonathan, and Ryan talking in the singletrack. I knew they were close.
tThere was more fire road and much more singletrack slaying to be done. The rains were on and off. The singletrack riding was beginning to feel like bushwhacking. I soldiered on towards the checkpoint at Hatchery Creek. Got thrown for one more loop before that though. Managed to stay on course this time, but in the wrong sequence. 2-3 miles of singletrack that I accidentally rode twice. I finally made it to the check point to refill on water and get some food. I was surprised when my 3 earlier accomplices rolled in just a few minutes behind me. I made quick work of my pb/honey sandwich and a bananna and was on my merry way, determined to stay on course this time (even if it meant stopping to consult my map).
The next 5-10 miles of singletrack were enjoyable. I could tell I was getting tired, but it didn’t matter. This singletrack was so rad! My darkest hour was the section of Birkie trail. I don’t recall how long it was, maybe 10 miles, maybe 15. Those hills crushed my spirit. It’s funny, two of my most miserable moments on a bicycle happened on the Birkie trail. I took to singing Hank3 songs to myself. Not sure how I settled on that but Long Hauls and Close Calls fit the bill.
Hitting the singletrack was my savior. It was pretty gnarly but I was happy to be rippin’ the best Wisco singletrack once again. Before I knew it I was rolling down Randysek Rd to the finish at River’s Edge Eatery. 8hrs and 16minutes after the start and it was over. It was all the adventure that I had hoped for, more pain than I care to admit, and an overabundance of radness that emanated from this event. Thank you to Joe Meiser, Tim Krueger, and Ryan Horkey from the Salsa/QBP crew for putting on this outstanding event. I owe you all a few more high fives.