It’s 4:45AM. I’m awake. Restless. 70 miles of tarmac separate me from Antelope Island – it’s bison, bugs and famous road race.
No less than 3 National Champs will be lining up in my group. Better early than late.
I make a deposit at the porcelain potty. Slip on jeans and a t. Crack open the King Oscar sardines and add an apple a banana and some dried apricot to my buffet. Chase it all down with 45 ounces of triple strength Chrystal Lite Energy.
Weird, but powerful.
The streets are quite. Waze routes me north. 80mph all the way. Bowie is cranked.
To get to the island, you drive across 7 miles of causeway. A stout wind is blowing from the south. We’ll be racing on this stretch – out and back. I figure this is good for me as the wind will hurt the little guys more than me.
Gazillions of bugs pepper the windshield. Column after column of the bugs line the causeway. When I stop, the living bugs swarm the car. I’m not in a hurry to get out and join them.
The race promoter is prepared and the line is short. Flip flops fly me back to the car. I grab a towel and kit up in the car. Bugs everywhere.
Matt and I spin on the road, twenty minutes till race time. I see Scott – he sprays my number with glue and slaps it on. Danny says hi and asks about the RaceDay Bag for speed skaters. I meet Don Bowen in person as the race officials give us the low down.
Who’s who? Where are the champs? Somebody says Zan. A top tube says Dirk. Mark is on the move. We’ve covered the out portion of the causeway pretty steady. Dirk’s teammate and another guy are off the front about a minute. Nobody seems worried, me either. The players are here.
At the U-turn, things get spicy. Attack. Rest. Attack. Rest. Attack. Rest. A mile from the island it’s all out and 5 of us are away. My legs scream, we have a huge gap, and I’m all in. Mark and Zan are here. Dirk is about a minute back. I like this. But, we’re slow.
Dirk and 4 more join. We are still relatively slow. Later I would learn the other 20 pulled the plug. We ride 5 loops of a circuit at tempo. Not easy, not too hard.
The southern wind blows hard as we exit the circuit and head south about 10 miles. It’s a slight climb and guys are starting to go for it. This could be interesting. The wind is very strong… too strong for my liking. I chase things down, but don’t make any moves.
We reach the turn around together, 11 of us.
With the wind at our back I pull hard and cause a small fissure. Nobody helps. I try again. Nada. Dirk takes off. He gets about 30 seconds on us. A few miles later he’s back. Zan goes for a big dig. I cover. I’m most worried about him because he smoked all my buddies at MTB Nationals last year. I don’t know anything about the other two champs. Attacks are going and coming, we lose one or two guys.
I can see the long hill, the finish line is around the bend on top.
1k to go.
What am I doing leading?
500 to go, I get swarmed. Not good. A gap opens and I’m leading again, but I don’t care.
Adrenalin is pumping hard. I hear my breath, but feel nothing.
At 200 Mark takes off.