Photo Cred

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hanging At the Hundo

The Stats:

"HUNDO definition
noun. hundred. : How much? A hundo! Geeesh!"

Fast, fast, fast.  That's the only way to describe last weekend's Bailey Hundo--buff, flowing singletrack on the Colorado Trail and high-elevation dirt road through wildflowers with massive vistas.  By far the fastest I've ever raced a 100, with the biggest gearing I've run for one of these races.

It was damn cold at Saturday's pre-sunrise start.  There was a thick layer of frost on my bike seat when Trevor and I mounted up for the short spin from the camping area to the start in downtown Bailey, and my fingers throbbed with the screaming barfy's through the re-warming process once we got there.  When 
I did the mental calculations to figure out how soon the sun would crest the horizon and start to warm our world I came up with an hour of damn cold racing to come.  Shivering uncontrollably in the pack, I started to wonder how I would perform.  Brrr.

Colorado State Senator Chris Romer sends us off with a shotgun blast.
Photo: Austin Smart

As it turned out, it took about twenty miles for my body to rev up and feel like I was racing.  I hung in the pack for the opening road stretch, making a pass here and there but not really pushing it, and then started going a bit harder after a few miles when we turned onto the new two-track.  For a mile or two I fell in with two other singlespeeders but ended up passing them on a short climb and sliding in with a trio of geared riders who were holding a slightly faster pace.

Mmm, Colorado Trail fun.  The sun feels good!
Photo: Austin Smart

Romping through the opening miles of the Colorado Trail with those three was super fun, embracing the two-wheel drift on kitty litter-laden corners and powering through short, punchy climbs.  It was bittersweet to get onto a longer stretch of climbing and have to make the pass, but I had finally warmed up and my legs felt like pushing harder.

The gap opened up pretty quickly and once the trail swooped downhill again I was all alone, with no other riders in sight.  As it turned out, those guys were the last riders I saw until around the 90-mile mark when we rejoined the 50-mile course and I started catching Hundito racers.

Now, I love riding alone.  I do it alot.  In reality, most of my riding time is solo, or with The Ruester.  Erica loves to tease me about just how introverted I am.  At the best of times I'm marginal company, but when I'm breathing too hard to speak, drooling on my toptube with my heartrate pinned?  Forget about it.  (Fortunately Rue doesn't particularly care if I don't keep up my end of the conversation.)

But that was a long time to be out there alone.

The 20 or so miles on the Colorado Trail were fine--I was focused on riding smoothly and making the most of it.  But once I came through Aide 6 and was cranking up the long road climb to Stoney pass, that all changed.  Without really knowing what goal to shoot for on the horizon, or how steep the climbing was going to be, or where the rest of the field was, obnoxious questions and doubts started buzzing around my brain and I became my own worst company.

"Am I riding hard enough?"  "Is this pace too hard?"  "Whoa, is this climb getting steeper?"  "Am I chasing any singlespeeders, or am I in the lead?"  "Will the next Aide Station have Coke?"

"Why do I do this shit?"

Thankfully, the next Aide did have Coke, and a lovely volunteer handed me a blissfully cold water bottle full of that delicious, fizzy elixir.  I have to take a moment here to put in a note of thanks to the Hundo Aide Station crews--they rocked!  Being the only humans with whom I interacted for 70 miles of riding, I really appreciated their enthusiasm and support.  When I rolled in to Aide 6 looking for my drop cooler, a volunteer was already standing there holding it out for me and asking how he could help.  Unreal!

Back to the race--finally, somewhere around mile 80, a photographer fed me the info that I was about three minutes back from the fourth place Pro/Open rider and comfortably in the lead of the Singlespeed division.


With a few more miles of climbing to go before starting the descent to the finish, I stayed hard on the gas to see if I could reel in the mystery Pro I was chasing before he could shift up and crank away on the down. ('Cause why not?)  Eventually his red kit did come into sight about a quarter-mile ahead, but there just wasn't enough climbing left to bring him back and he disappeared once the course flattened out.

Woohoo!  Done.  And stoked.
Photo: Austin Smart

The descent to the finish flew by, ripping past cars at speeds over 40mph, and then I was rolling over the finish line in a lovely meadow by the Platte River.  Somebody handed me a finisher's trophy, NUE Series director Ryan O'Dell shook my hand, and I stepped off the bike after another fun, successful Damn Long Race.

The 2014 Bailey Hundo Men's Singlespeed podium.  These Colorado boys are strong!
Photo: Austin Smart

Carlos' family even broke out the champagne for the celebration.
Photo: Austin Smart

While I can't say that this race all felt good--it hurt just about like a 100-mile race should--I felt strong throughout and for the first time in recent memory I didn't have any cramping issues.  Maybe the gentler-paced start helped?  Whatever it was, it felt really good to push my body to perform and have it respond the way I wanted.

Will I be back for another Hundo?  I imagine so.  They throw a really fun, festive event with killer camping, and the riding on the Colorado Trail is definitely worth coming back.  But first things first--heading to Sturgis next weekend for another Tatanka 100.  Ride the bull!

Bailey Hundo Gearlist on AXLPATH