Thanks to Scott DeMers for getting the Bailey Hundo ball rolling … both before and after the race! I also did the Bailey Hundo on June 15, and wanted to provide my own (and hopefully not too long or repetitive) race report.
As much riding as I’ve been doing, I’ve never done 100 miles all-at-once on a bike, road or mountain … ?! I know I should’ve at least done something easier like the Denver Century Ride by now, but that was happening on the exact same day. I also didn’t get into the Leadville 100 for a third straight year, so Hundo it is.
As Scott mentioned (and unlike Leadville), the Hundo is a fundraiser for some very worthy non-profit organizations:
- Colorado Mountain Bike Association – dedicated to protecting and improving mountain biking on the Colorado Front Range;
- Colorado High School Cycling League – with whom most of GMSV should already be quite familiar; and
- Trips for Kids – building healthy confident kids, by connecting diverse youth to the joy of cycling.
I had no problem coughing up $250 for all of these worthy causes, although I held off on asking others for $ in case I’d DNF. The Hundo is also meant to showcase the spectacular MtB opportunities around the Bailey area: the Bailey Trails! group might one day help turn Bailey into a MtB destination a la Fruita.
I swung by Corky’s shop on Friday afternoon to make sure my 13-year-old Vail Cycle Works Ti Soft-tail was Hundo-ready. Thanks (as always!) to Sheldon for getting it ready for last weekend’s pre-ride (after closing time, no less!) and to James for adjusting the headset in mere minutes late on Friday afternoon!
I got to Bailey to set up camp, get my packet, attend the mandatory safety meeting, and shove as much spaghetti into my face as possible before bedtime. I would’ve otherwise just sat & stressed in my tent after dinner, but Scott suggested a 3-5-mile spin which ended up calming me down quite nicely.
Saturday marked the first time I ever remember getting up at 4:00 AM for anything. Breakfast consisted of the jerky in my packet, 3 PBJs, 2 protein shakes, and another gel or two for good measure. I’m sure I should’ve eaten more … but I still had plenty of spaghetti in me, I was nervous enough already, and I promised to make up for it at the aid stations(?!).
We rode 3 miles to the start, where 250 of us were lined up. Some VIP walked out into the middle of the street and fired a shotgun into the air at 6:00 AM sharp, and we were off. Any of you who’ve raced with me know how I usually drop off the back pretty quickly(!) … but I stayed with Scott for a mile or so before the first climb. He & I agreed, though, that staying well within ourselves for the first half of the race was essential to surviving the (MUCH harder) second half.
The Hundo starts off by climbing about 7 miles on paved & (mostly) dirt road south of Bailey up to the Colorado Trail. Then it’s on to the CT and other gorgeous singletrack trails for the next 40 or so miles … J I stayed well within myself all the way to Aid Station #5 (about 47 miles in), and made a concerted effort to do the following at every aid station:
- Finish whatever sport drink I had in my bottle – I only had Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix (my new favorite) for the start, but luckily every aid station was fairly well stocked with Hammer Perpetuem (my former favorite for long events like this, but still pretty “milky”), Heed, gels, and other standard aid station fare;
- Bike & Body Check – Thanks again to the shop for getting my bike (back!) into that kind of shape; while my butt, back, and knees usually suffer during & after marathons like these, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well I was doing;
- Answer nature’s call (more often than usual, but a good sign that I was drinking enough);
- Check the course map for the distance and (especially) profile before the next station.
I should mention at this point that the Hundo’s aid station volunteers were (by FAR!) the most enthusiastic of any I’ve ever seen at any race. Every racer was greeted with a chorus of cheers, and there was never a need to ask these folks for “more cowbell” … ! A couple at Aid Station #4 were wearing gorilla suits, even though it was cloudless & almost 80.
The folks at Aid 5 may have been the least enthusiastic, but they probably provided me with the most important aid I needed all race. I’ve come to take pride in always beating the cutoff times (even if it’s just by a few minutes). I knew there were several along the Hundo course, starting at Aid 5. So I asked, “how long ‘til this station closes?” to which several volunteers replied, “Soon. Very soon … like less than a half-hour from now.”
I now realized that “staying well within myself” was quickly turning into “riding gently into a DNF.” My original plan was to not really “start racing” until I got the bottom of Stony Pass … but being so far behind schedule meant that I had to start racing NOW, 30+ miles before the start of the Stony Pass climb … ?! The profile between Aid 5 & 6 suggested flat-to-mostly-downhill, which made me channel my inner Scott Hackett and open up the throttle (“Later, B*tches”). There ended up being a MUCH-more-than-expected amount of climbing, which was making me more nervous than I’d even felt just before the start. Worst of all, nasty DNF thoughts started dancing around in my head(?!).
Another racer who was “just cruising” and very patient with my descending “skills” followed me down the rock pile to the South Platte River and Aid Station #6 around 1:00. I immediately asked the race official if I was “still in,” and she reassured me that I definitely was. This aid station was scheduled to close at 2:00 … so while I didn’t ride as cleanly as I wanted to on that segment, I was at least starting to pull away from the broom wagon … J
Going from Aid 6 to 7 was on SH 67, a very slight uphill on about 15 miles of dirt & paved road. There didn’t appear to be anybody going my speed, so it was time to put my near-non-existent time trialing skills to work. Either the wind was with me, or things just went very well for me on that segment. I pulled into Aid 7 at Deckers to find that I had put even more time between me & the cutoff.
I rolled out of Deckers feeling pretty darn good, but then the climbing kicked in: about 3 miles’ worth on (paved) Deckers Road, and another 3 miles on the very steep dirt of Wigwam Creek Road. I felt pretty good passing one guy in a Semper Fi jersey, but simply could not catch an unattached (to a team) woman who stayed about a ¼-mile ahead throughout this segment. I saluted her climbing prowess as I pulled in to Aid 8 about a minute behind her. This was “The Oktoberfest Station,” and the polka music & old guys in lederhosen helped restore levity to my afternoon … perfect timing as we were at the base of Stony Pass.
Stony Pass is nothing exceptional: it tops out at only 8400 feet, and didn’t even feel as steep as Wigwam Creek Rd. below it. But it shows up 80+ miles into the race, and just seems to grind on forever. I had at least pre-ridden the road from Bailey to Deckers back to Bailey the previous weekend … but again, I hadn’t already gone 80 miles on that ride(!). At least the hail that pelted last year’s racers on the pass was replaced by a very short/sweet rain shower, reminding me of just how lucky we were with the entire day’s weather.
Aid 9 was at the top of Stony Pass, where an entire girl’s high school team (I didn’t catch what sport) was there to cheer us on. I’m sure they had been there for hours, so I was once again impressed with their continuing enthusiasm. Fuel up & go, and it was “mostly downhill” to Aid 9 at the Windy Peak Outdoor Education Lab. The volunteers were less enthusiastic, but very informative. They said that it’s “only 1 more mile of climbing, then 7 miles all-downhill to the finish.” I took their word for it, and they were generally right.
I don’t think I’ve ever pedaled downhill harder than I did those last 7-8 miles … probably out of some combination of euphoria, fear of something going wrong, and confidence that I still had that much left in me. There was a last little bump-up to the finish area, where I blew past a male pro. He wasn’t bloody or anything … so I’m sure he had mechanicals, cramps, or some other issue(s) that will prevent me from bragging about it anymore than this.
I wanted to finish more than anything else, but then hoped to finish in under 11 hours. When I saw the clock reading 10:49:…, I let out a few rebel yells and fist-pumps as I crossed the line. My time was good enough for 189th out of the 250-strong field (i.e., NOT in the bottom 20%!), and 63rd out of 79 in Men’s 40s. A volunteer was waiting at the line to shake my hand and present me with that coveted piece of wood with a rusty piece of “Bailey Hundo” metal on it.
While it may have appeared to be a mostly solitary journey for me, I still need to thank so many people for helping to make this happen:
- Everybody I mentioned above, again!
- State Senators Brophy, Kopp, Romer (who I saw roll out at the start), and Scheffel for coming up with such a great idea in 2010;
- Bailey Hundo organizers, sponsors, and volunteers, all of whom treated us like royalty;
- My GMSV teammates – especially Scott DeMers – for keeping me up & going throughout our training;
- My employers and colleagues at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, who provided me with a level of support I’ve rarely seen at previous jobs -> swing by CDPHE’s Bike to Work Day station in Glendale on June 26 if you can!
- My Lovely Bride Shelli, who has shown infinite patience throughout this spring (most of it for me on the bike). I know: now it’s time for me to mow the lawn … !
I felt better than I ever thought I would post-race -> I even rode into work today (3 days later)! I don’t know what race I’ll do next (other than the Breck 68), esp. since I need to get over the past weekend’s euphoria. At least I now know I can do “a” hundo – and even “THE” Hundo – fairly well … ~(8-D
I do feel confident about crushing the 2014 Bailey Hundo, though, and hope to see lots more GMSVers there as well . . . PvH