Dave Harris put on a gem of a race, the Paunsaugunt Enduro, that started just around the corner from Paula’s Bryce Canyon Half Marathon. It was too good a fit, so after the marathon, we moseyed on down to the campground to join a good crew of enduro nuts.
I was tired, but couldn’t sit still very long, so I pedaled out to ride the Thunder Mountain loop the evening before the race. Every distance in the Enduro finishes on this trail, but I knew I was likely to be a suffering unit by the time I reached it, so I wanted to be able to take my time, soak in the views and really enjoy it. It was a perfect way to spend the evening.
I considered manning up for 95 mile version, but did not have the focus/time necessary to study and plan it. I was confident I could hammer out the 70 as simply an unknown brutal day ride. So I did just that.
I got the jump on Dave when he stopped to fiddle with something. I saw both he and Lynda chasing at some point, a switchback or two back. Then only silence in the woods as I did my best to keep my bike on the trail and my GPS arrow on route. It was a wonderfully difficult course to race on. There were more than a few moments of hazard, quick thinking and serious doubt. Awesome.
I emerged onto a graded road at 1:45 into the race, thinking we were not yet done with the hike-a-bike and difficult riding.
It’s rare to get a picture of Dave, from the front, in a racing situation (even one that isn’t fair, with him doing the 95). He motored up to catch me, clearly in a different ‘gear.’ I checked my legs and they said go. My mind said “you’re only doing 70, he’s doing 95”, so I attacked back.
Riding hard is powerful. A 1500′ climb disappeared in a half hour. We hit the split for the 44 mile race hours before I expected to reach it. Even Dave was incredulous. “I thought you said you were tired, Scott…”
The next miles were trail magic. ATV-ish trails flirted with the edge of the plateau, frequently offering big views and whole palettes of color.
We were still beating up on each other (once the motor is revved it’s hard to slow down much), but fortunately Dave insisted on a few mandatory viewpoint excursions.
We reached the 70 mile split, shook hands and went our separate ways. I felt a small bit of disappointment at the adventure awaiting him, but I also knew I couldn’t hold the pace I had been riding for that long. I expected to crash and burn straight away.
Speaking of burning, part of the course was smoldering. I didn’t see any big plumes and secretly hoped to be able to ride it, but it soon became clear that wasn’t an option. I was just glad the air hadn’t been smoke-filled as it had been during Paula’s marathon. My lungs don’t get along well with smoke, or really any particulates.
To my surprise I felt even stronger after leaving Dave. The 1000′ drop of easy coasting might have had something to do with it, but I felt top, so I kept it pegged as the route took me through yet more cool stuff.
Chimney Rock trail is short, but very cool. Even cooler was the water the spigot at Kings Canyon CG. I was surrounded by a mormon family as I watered up, mixed some gatorade and tried to pretend I was normal. All the kids were looking at me like I was an alien. All I could think was how cool self supported races are. You seek out what you need on the course or go without. Even if that means waiting in line at the spigot for some kids to fill up their squirt guns.
The Fremont ATV trail was FAST. Tail winds rushed me up the course as I day dreamed about finishing in under 7 hours. I had predicted around 10 hours, so I was pretty psyched.
That prediction was off, but yesterday’s prediction of ‘suffering unit’ on Thunder Mountain proved dead on.
Such an amazing trail (just look at that thing!) and such amazing suffering, too. My sides ached, my head was spinning. I had to sit down and rest twice just to keep from going crazy. I wanted to be able to enjoy the trail, and I did, but it hurt. The relief from sitting down only lasted a few minutes each time, then it was back to survival.
The final bobsled run was glorious in its rush of speed. But I babied my bike over the rises instead of crouching to launch, as it should be. Even riding back up the bike path was painful. A jelly filled donut and a few minutes horizontal was all I needed to feel normal again.
Thanks so much for the race and the route, Dave. It was awesome. Very cool to hang out with everyone that came out, too. Definitely a huge part of the draw for these things. Hearing about DaveC’s epic night on course was pretty cool too. He was amazingly upbeat for having spent a night in a space blanket, restarting his fire every 30-40 minutes. Next time ditch the Mac and use TF to upload the GPS track, dude!
Don’t miss this one next year if you can at all swing it.