I did my first Dakota Five-O in 2008. It was a disaster. I was beaten before I started so I finished, but barely. The trip was a bad one all around that ended with our vehicle breaking down in somewhere in the area of Leftovershoe, South Dakota leaving us $2000 poorer.
My “race” time: 9:05. I was so disgusted I swore I’d never go back.
Moving ahead to spring 2011 I’m 40 pounds lighter, in much better shape, and with a stellar bike to ride. I found myself wondering if I could redeem myself in South Dakota. I thought about it, was pressured by “friends”, and resisted the temptation until the very last minute. In a moment of weakness, I registered.
After planning, training, and generally fretting all summer, Labor Day rolled around and I found myself in Spearfish again. This time, I was determined to not let it beat me, again. I played it safe, too safe, the first 30 miles still unsure how things would turn out. After the last aid station I realized that I actually had a shot at hitting my dream goal of under seven hours.
I pushed it as hard as I could in the nasty trails after the “Bacon Station” and turned on the afterburners on the last climb out. Into the last section of uphill singletrack I pushed harder and once I saw the “Its all downhill from here” sign, I turned it loose.
I was one big cramp and hanging on by a thread. I had to slow down to pass a few people and heard someone behind me. Giving them a shout to go around I heard “No, you go – any faster and I’ll just crash.” He added that we had an outside chance to finish at the seven hour mark. I told him we were going to finish in under seven, one way or another.
With people chasing me and a fire in my belly I went. I was riding singletrack at a pace that I previously thought was over my head, and found myself wishing I had gone this hard early on.
Once down the gravel road I powered up the climb that almost killed me in 2008 – the final climb up to the Passion Play. As I went past I checked my watch – I was going to make it! Right before the last corner Ryan Feagan jumped up and started screaming at me to go harder – so I did. I passed several people in that last stretch and ended up with a time of 6:51, almost 10 minutes inside my ultimate goal.
What did I learn? That I need to stop worrying so much and just go. I CAN do it, I just need to actually do it. I also learned a lot about what works as far as nutrition and prep go.
Next time? I need to train harder. Not more just harder.
Will there be a next time? I don’t know. Right now I’m tired, and ready to ease into fall and maybe a few cyclocross races. I would like to see if I can break 6 hours though…