Suck it up Buttercup!
Hilly Billy- yes thanks to the awesome cross tires that Kenda spared us, I can tack you on to my list of fantabulous finishes this year and best of all I didn't have a single flat!!
I was worried silly trying to decide between using a mountain bike or cross bike. The chosen mountain bike last year felt great and was a fun ride until I scored a three inch slice in the center of the rear tire. DNF. In the end, because of gearing and a comfy saddle I should have rode my mountain bike again.
I can't honestly say that I enjoyed myself entirely. My legs still felt a little tired from Lumberjack the weekend prior, and pre-race jitters inhibit any ability to consume calories in the morning. So I ate a banana and was riding gears that left me struggling up even the 'easy' climbs on the course. Before the first aid station I was hiking up punchy hills, just destroying myself trying to mash up long easy road climbs. Climb, climb, climb!
"JR, Stop treating us like a bunch of babies and add a few more hills next year. Sheesh." - Ryanne Palermo
I was at the unofficial aid station contemplating why in the world I do this to myself, and praying that I wouldn't get any flats when Robbie and James rolled up behind me. "Hey Buerkle!", they shouted... I barely had the energy to muster out a hello, was puzzled to see them behind me and then several miles later, super thrilled that they were dumb enough to ride at my pace realized - Hey, this is what teams are for. At aid station two, Robbie looks at my bike and says "well that there's yer problem, see that ring on the front of your bike, well its not small at all... you need a compact!"
I can't thank them enough for pestering me, and riding alongside up the following climbs. They promised that no matter how hard I tried to sneak off the back of their train they weren't going to drop me. Well, that was until I had to stop and pee. I couldn't wait longer. I promised that I would hang on, and muster my way to the top... at this point our friend Stick passed by and I felt a little more confident that I was going to actually finish this thing. When I finished walking up the hill, I found them picking rhaspberries. We continued along through aid station three. After a half dozen glazed oatmeal cookies and lathering the chains with lube, we rolled out for the last leg of the ride. It was all I could do to keep my legs moving. I had at this point surrendered riding up hills and just walked up most of them. By mile 57 or 64 or whatever it was my stomach was just pissed so I started belching like a fat kid living at McDonalds. Gross. Poor guys. I guess this was the final straw because when we got to the next hill, they finally stopped waiting. The course doubled back on itself at this point and I heard them yell c'mon Buerkle, but when I started up the dirt double track they were out of sight, out of mind.
Something happened when I hit the dirt though. It was dirt, I know what to do here- and I started climbing again. The pedals got a little easier to turn over and only momentarily did I have to walk again when I hit the 'wall'... After getting to the top of a steep section of road and hearing some construction workers laughing at us mustering up this thing, the rest was smooth sailing. I refused to walk up the road to the finish line, ending up 8th in six hours flat. Beer seems to be a fantastic recovery drink, so I had two glasses and went home with a buzz that lasted several hours.