After 5 years of running this event, I sold it late last year to some new promoters. Which meant, for the first time that I would actually be able to ride it. The format of the event is simple, there are two loops, both of which begin and end in Panguitch Utah. The first loop is 106 miles and the second is 94 miles and you either sign up for the 100 or the full 200 miles. I signed up for the 200, but without much time on the bike lately I thought I would see how it went and decide at lunch if I would do the full route. I started riding a little before the official start to give myself a little extra time in case I decided to do the whole route. It was quite nice to ride this beautiful area in solitude for much of the morning. The low angle of the sun gives a stunning light in this red rock landscape. There was virtually no traffic for the early part of the ride and I had the world to myself! I was actually the first rider to arrive at rest stop #1 and was treated to a buffet of untouched food, a first for me. It wasn’t until about mile 40 that the first real riders caught and passed me. There were about 8 or 9 riders in the “A” group and they were riding like they were on a mission. Before reaching the second rest at mile 58 or so I was also passed by the “B” group, “C” group and the “D” group. Now this event is not a race, but I like to do well when I can. I was still feeling pretty good but I settled into a 200 mile pace, one that would allow me to hold some reserves for later in the event. I was still riding by myself and still being passed by small groups here and there but I was cruising well and still felt pretty good. At about mile 75 or so the course turned straight south and into a growing wind, things were about to get tougher. At the rest stop at mile 80 I stayed a bit longer than normal, preparing myself for the 26 mile headwind pull back to Panguitch. A group of my friends pulled in just as I was leaving. I said my hellos and left, knowing that they would catch me soon enough. A little head start wouldn’t hurt, right!  This seemed like a long section of the route, I guess headwinds have a way of doing that. My friends did catch me about 10 miles out of the rest stop but I declined to hook on to that group. They were going a little faster than I wanted and I was still trying to save a little strength for the second half of the ride. It was at this point however that I started think more seriously about calling it a day when I got to lunch. The closer I got to lunch the stronger the argument for just doing 100 miles got, but I kept my pace just in case. I suppose that I could have settled the argument by just going hard and then dying but I kept hope alive by maintaining my slower pace. When I pulled into lunch however the argument was settled for me. It was still hot (about 90 degrees) and the wind seemed to be building if anything. Cold drinks along with some food and the conversation of friends began to erode my resolve. Finally when I looked over and saw my car taunting me to just get in and not punish myself further I surrendered. Today I was an under-achiever with only 106 miles and a ham and turkey sandwich to my credit.

I do not really have any other “events” planned for the rest of the year so this one may have been a good one to start tapering down my season with. I’ll keep doing some shorter distances here and there just to try and keep my cycling legs but thats about it!

P.S.  As I am sitting here finishing this spiel the wind has picked up to about 40 mph and blowing dust has reduced visibility to 50 yards. I think a cold front is passing. Right now I am very glad not to still riding in these conditions. I probably would not have finished until 8 or 9 pm had I continued.