I love to ride my bike long distances for fun. It’s this thing about knowing in my head that I can do it, and then pushing through all the negative thoughts that enter your head while spending literally hours on your bike mostly alone, and then finishing strong and feeling good! It’s that epic feeling of knowing the hours spent training are paying off piece by piece, your liquids and nutrition worked, and you finished without a mechanical and in one piece. It is this feeling that I revel in days later. And for me, at this point in my training, it was just what I needed, just a little boost to know I am on the right track with time spent on the bike, whether it be my mountain bike or commuting bike.
The misery quest was the Capitol Forest 50. This race has traditionally taken place much later in the season, but this year it happened in June. The nwepicseries.com folks are awesome promoters and put on a great race, from the free camping to the after party, and of course everything in between. I have to admit that I signed up in early spring thinking of course I’ll have plenty of time to train, and cross train, to make 50 miles seem like a walk in the park. Even with the best laid plans, all I can say is that life happens, and here we are June 27th and I have 50 miles to ride. I was a tad nervous with the elevation factor because I don’t have access to a lot if it, but what I did have was base miles, a lot of base miles. And I think in the end that’s what paid off. As race morning approached I gathered my things, checked my bike and made sure I had plenty of fuel in the tank. I was as ready as I was going to be. Riders were called to the start for the pre-race meeting and then the anxious wait began. Instead of starting in waves, they changed it to a mass start due to heat. We got the countdown and we were off in a fast moving cloud of dust. Riders were jostling for position and then the singletrack bottleneck happened. Knowing this is what happens, I try and hang out in the back of the pack when starting. Once I got my tires on the singletrack I was off to the start of a 6-hour tour. I was fortunate enough to get on a mountain bike train for the first 12 miles. The singletrack was fast and mostly in the shade. When you popped into the open areas, it was like riding into an oven and I was pretty sure I would combust. These sections were thankfully short lived ,and you were soon back in the safety of the shade. It was a great motivator to keep the pedals turning. The miles continued on, and I knew the only section that may be challenging is called the “Greenline” trail. It comes at a point in the race where your arms are noodly and your brain is wandering. This trail is downhill, technical and loose, and I knew if I could make it through upright the rest would be easy. I made it through upright, but not without challenge. I was doing a little Enduro on my rockin’ hardtail. At the end of this section you are at the 42 mile mark and the last aid station.
From this point there are only 8 miles left. 8 miles, 8 glorious miles with one exposed brutal uphill, some flowy single track, a bit of pavement and then done! The brutal uphill is mostly exposed and feels like you are climbing Mt. Everest, but it comes to a shady, swoopy single track end. At this point last year in the race there were many people that were suffering with you – this year I was a lone rider. I continued to shove negative thoughts away. My left leg was starting to cramp, and I had some miles left. I was able to stretch the leg a bit and keep pushin’. I knew I could give it my all because I was almost there. I was never happier to see the left turn ahead to the pavement ahead of me, but a bit sad that this 50 miles I rode was over. I did it, I finished and felt good despite the heat. And I’ll probably be back next year, because I love misery quests.