That Sort Of Hurt
Next weekend is the Hanson Hills 100. I had never rode Hanson at all, let alone a lap of the 100 mile course (the race will be 4 x 25 mile laps), so I figured I better check it out. Reports I heard from folks ranged from "it's fast" to "definitely a hard tail course" to "you'll love it!" As you will read here, the regular course might be "fast" but between the climbing, the deep sand on the double track, and the freshly added single track, I found it anything but "fast." OK, maybe is what I should say is "I found ME anything but fast on the course." I'm also not sure how much I want to use my hard tail on it for 100 miles or how much I loved it!
Since the course is now marked I figured I would head up and do some laps. Hanson is about an hour a away from my house in MP, but it couldn't be easier to get to. I think I made 4 turns the whole drive. I believe the race is going to start from downtown Grayling and make its way up to the ski area to hit the dirt. I started right from the lodge and following the signs for the race soon found myself on some super sandy double track before I made it to the fist section of single track. The first section of double track was flat, but the sand forces one off to the side to get traction or find a lumpy grassy section to ride in the middle.
As I made my way up some fresh cut singletrack I was being bounced all over the place and wishing I had the Spearfish. Once the climb leveled off, some fun singletrack started. I saw another rider entering the singletrack down a bit. A helmetless, shirtless dude, listening to his iPod on a not trashy Jamis. Money for Jamis mountain bike? Yep. Money for iPod? Yep. Money for future visits to dermatologist to have melanoma lopped off his back? (I assume). Money for helmet? No? Seriously?
So anyway, as the dude enters the singletrack ahead of me he glances back at me. Great, now I am stuck behind this dude. It didn't take long before I catch up with him, thinking he wold pull off to the side. Nope, then we hit a rooty downhill, NOW he decides to look back and BAM!! HE HITS THE DECK LIKE A TON OF BRICKS!! EEESH!!! I wanted to tell him- THAT'S why you wear a friggin' helmet, and a jersey wouldn't be a bad idea either since now you have trail rash all down your bare ass belly. Instead I made sure he was OK (he was), and wished him a good ride. He said I surprised him, and that he didn't think I was that close and he hit a root. I then wanted to point out that he would have heard my loud ass Hope hub IF he wasn't using an iPod. But I of course didn't, he was a nice enough dude, just needs to wear a freaking helmet or end up brain dead.
Story over- back to the ride... After the fun singletrack there was more sandy double track. UG! I found it just has hard going downhill on it as up. At times the bike sort of surfed downhill going where ever the hell it wanted, and on one uphill the bike literally came to a standstill. I soon relized that to get any traction I was going to have to ride the grassy brush to the side of the road. Thank God for Stan's, 'cause I surely would have gotten a flat.
The sand soon turned to grassy double track, and then to fresh cut single track. The single track was more worn in than I expected, but its lumpyness was still beating me up. There isn't a ton of climbing on the course, but the power it took to get up the hills made them seem worse than they were.
At about mile 11 or 12, I started hitting more of the regular Hanson single track. Fast, flowing, and fun. I took some video with the Epic cam of that section (see below). I eventually worked my way up to the top of a climb and wasn't real sure where to go. There were no signs and two trail options. Took one that led me to the bottom of the ski area, and back to the lodge. That loop was about 20 miles. I do know that they were still doing some marking and adding some trail for the course, but it seems I still missed some trail somewhere.
Back at the xB, I felt spent from the hot, sandy, lumpy lap. But I drove an hour to get there, and wasn't ready to stop riding, so I went out for another lap. This one went better since I let some PSI out of my tires, to help with the lumpy trail, and made sure to ride in the grass when I could in the sandy sections. But damn I was not feeling good on the bike today, and have a BAD feeling about my chances next week on this course.
In the end I got 40 miles of riding in. It felt like 100, and I left happy with having got a nice ride in, but sort of upset with how hard I found it. This was made worse by knowing I would still have 60 more miles to go next week. Oh well, it makes for blog fodder I suppose.
On the way home I stopped for what is the Official Sandwich of The 2011 Soiled Chamois Race Season; The McChicken. $1, of spicy, tasty, nasty, processed fast food chicken between two buns. I also opted for a large iced coffee. Little did I know that a large is like 116 ounces. Eeeesh! The 116 oz., along with some Advil did help rid me of the "just got hit by a tractor trailer full of shit" feeling.
I came away from this pre ride thinking next week could possibly suck, I am not in the shape I thought I was, and I am dispyte people telling me to use my hard tail, I am using the Spearfish. I also MUST find out why my back hurts EVERY ride I do. Could it be something as simple as cleat placement or saddle height? UG!!!
Going for a relaxing sunny ride on dirt roads today. At least that's the plan.