Man vs the Dakota Five-O, part deux

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…

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2 thoughts on “Man vs the Dakota Five-O, part deux

  1. You may not be the fastest man on two wheels, Jon, but you sure as hell do know how to inspire a friend to be better, faster and happier. Reading your story iterates to me my own feelings about work ethic, desires, goals, planning, all the work, hectic schedules…all the same things you face amidst your road to reaching one goal at a time. Keep living, and keep writing about it, Jon, because on a day like today, it’s a friend like me who really needs to read a piece of your story to put things in perspective again and say, “One day at a time; here I go.”

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