I’m feeling pretty darn good. I’m thirty three miles into a beautiful ride that has taken me from Breckenridge to Keystone and am headed back. I easily climbed Vomit Hill, kept my wits about me on the Aquaduct trail with a very exposed traverse, and steady-Eddie’ed the eight mile grinder climb out of Keystone. I’m munching on a Gu waffle and banana I grabbed at the last aid station and I’m starting to get nervous. I’m alone, and today the racers are very spread out so this is not unusual, but something feels off. My Spidy senses are tingling and I slow down. I must be off course. I stop and wait for another rider to come into view. No rider. Even though I’ve climbed two miles up from the last aid station I turn. Yep, I was off course. (As I was headed down a course marshal drove up to catch me – what a well run race!) Right after the Aid station there was a right turn onto new single track and I must have missed the course marking (the course is really well marked) as I was stashing supplies into pockets from the aid station. Doh!
Though I added four miles to my day and at least ten minutes to my time (I really don’t want to look at my Garmin data to see how bad it really was), I got back on track. I decided to ask my body to pick up the pace just a titch and see if it would respond. Yes! For the first time at altitude I could push a little harder without my heart rate spiking. I slowly passed riders I had gone around two hours earlier, and moved back into second place for the day. The women I passed the second time were quite confused to see me again, but they gave me kind words for my error. A gentleman I was riding near heard about my mistake and as we hit the last big descent he invited me to follow his line, he was a local and had it dialed. So with blazing speed I would not dare otherwise on a descent I’ve never ridden before I zipped the last four miles to the finish.
Wow. Stage racing is such an adventure! Mechanicals, getting off course, crashing (cross your fingers for me that I continue to kept it rubber side down), weather… I suspect every rider has to manage at least one of these blips. The race is long. Ride your race. I’m having so much fun!