Posted on 7:11 PM by Schottler
I decided to do the Berryman Epic mountain bike race after Green Bean's inspirational pep talks about how I might be able to do well. It is a 56 mile race with about 40 miles of single track... all one big loop. Over the last few weeks we have been pounded by rain, which stuck around in a lot of this trail. Whoever told me the Berryman drains really fast and well is a dirty liar.
I lined up next to Steve Tilford, Bill Stolte, Eric Pirtle, Josh Johnson, Dwayne Goscinski, Mike Best, Garth Prosser (Cannondale Factory Racing), and Green Beans (going for 112 miles in 2 days), as well as some others. About 1/4 mile into the race we ran into a flooded river, but the promoters parked a fifth wheel trailer over the river to give us a bridge. I managed to be in 5th position over this bridge so I didn't get caught up in the traffic. There was then about a 3-5 mile gravel climb to the single track with. We had a pace line of 5 guys going up the climb at a pretty good pace with a sprint for the start of the single track. I let Tilford and Pirtle go so I could follow their secret pro lines. We had a decent pace going through the single track with Pirtle leading, he was putting time on us in the descents but it was made up in the flats and climbs. Right before the first checkpoint he hit a mystery rock and flew over the bars into a tree... we thought he broke his back and told people at the checkpoint (bottom of the hill) what happened, but thankfully nothing was broken, but he did severely bruise everything from his ass to his neck, he will be recovered in a few weeks... very lucky.
Back into the single track I passed Dwayne and then got back on Tilford's wheel, which then started to flat. For the next 20 miles I turned up the throttle and didn't look over my shoulder once. I managed to run up a bigger and bigger gap each checkpoint... until I got past checkpoint 4. At this point I had about a 7 minute lead with 15 miles to go (I had no idea what my gap was then... the downfall of running 1st). I forgot to fill up my 2 bottles I have been carrying along and began to get dehydrated. All I could think about was water and how much farther I had to go... I wouldn't be able to make it without any. I began to slow down considerably and take some pretty bad lines, losing huge chunks of time. I ran my options through my head and decided I wasn't going to blow this race because of another mistake. I found a clear flowing creek and dropped my bike and filled up my bottle, chugged it, and filled it up again and took off. I figured I could either get sick, win this race, make some serious cash... or completely blow up right then and have everyone pass me and continue my season of disappointments. How bad could the sickness be anyway?
I got some power back after all the liquid and ate some more food and managed to pick up the pace for a little while. At this point I began looking over my shoulder pretty frequently just waiting to see Dwayne or Tilford chasing me down... I had no idea of the time splits. The whole race, especially now, I was talking to myself to keep myself going, only a little longer... just keep pushing it. My pace was slowing down considerably, I was losing my legs and my heart rate began to slow down a lot.
Up the last climb I heard an unnerving disc brake squeal coming from somewhere in the woods... which picked my heart rate back up. At the top of this hill there was about 6-8 miles of gravel back to the finish. I was struggling quite a bit on this road, tucking on the descents and just trying to keep my legs turning over. The single track was done, all I had to do was pedal pedal pedal, almost to the finish.
After the final gravel descent I got back to the camp ground and flooded river and I lit up... I just won this shit. I started riding through the river, which was a hell of a lot deeper than I thought... and it threw my bike out from under me and I started running through, then mashed through the super soggy and loose rock to the paved road. I can't remember the last time I felt this relieved and happy of what I accomplished. For some reason while riding up the last paved climb of the ride I decided to look over my shoulder just to make sure I was alone and I saw a green jersey out of the saddle with a very angry face mashing like crazy... coming at me quick. I completely freaked out and got out of the saddle and let out every ounce of strength I had left to sprint up the climb... which was enough to keep Steve Tilford from catching me. I was thinking there was no way I was going to lead for 50 miles and lose in the last 50 meters.
I rolled through the finish completely trashed and torn up... and they told me I set a new course record. I just thought to myself "wtf, holy shit, cash monieezz." I talked to Steve after the race, he had multiple flats and was able to bring all the time I built back in the last 15 miles. I could have been a little bit better prepared with more calorie consumption and some bottles at the last check point... this could have kept my lead at the finish and prevented the nasty bonking. But I was still able to pull it off... a win and the new course record, taking home $1,750... time for cross bike #2.
Everyone was saying there is no way anyone could set a new record with how bad the course conditions were... it was just too muddy and slow. I beat the record by 3 minutes, along with Tilford and Dwayne. This race was very vicious and competitive... I have never pushed myself that hard for that long, definitely a good experience.
Also, props to Dwayne for finishing VERY closely behind us... I was not expecting times to be this close after 56 miles. Nice work Butthead for finishing an impressive 7th with about 3 mountain bike rides this year, not bad for a roadie. Congrats to Mike Best for rounding out the top 10... the BOCOMO peloton had a very strong showing. Nate Means completed the Tour and the Race... 112 miles of mountain biking, which is totally nuts, there is no way I could have done that.
Also, it has been over 2 days since the creek water... no rocket shits. But my legs may not be recovered by this weekend.