A week ago I wasn't sure I was even going to go. I had smashed my face on the ground mountain biking. Some how I healed up pretty good and went any way, broken nose and all.
The night before I got almost no sleep. My mind was buzzing with excitement and uneasiness. More rain was on the way, and after my quick ride out on the gravel roads, I was not happy about that. They were already messy as hell with little time to dry out.
We started in a dual pace line and about ten miles in we hit a dirt road, or rather the "trail of tears" as I call it now. It was totally unride-able for everyone. It was about 3ish miles of hiking in ankle deep peanut butter. The bike would get so clogged with mud and grass that pushing it was out of the question most of the time. Carrying it on your back like a yoke was the most economical use of energy. Your feet would cake up with an extra 5 pounds of mud on each foot, wearing you out before you even got warmed up on the bike. Many bikes and riders never made it past this point. After that the 1st leg was rough, but good. Foggy and moist was the air. The rocky ground was also wet and slick. I dealt with a couple mechanical issues, bottle cages either were loose or broken, I assume from the hike a bike. Pretty much clear sailing after that until Axletree caught up to me and we decided to ride a water crossing.
Bad idea. There was a HUGE ass hole in that creek. They fell over, and I found the deepest part. Bars went under and I went OTB. Fearing I re-broke my nose with the taste of iron in my mouth from the nasty water I just drank. I totally forgot about my phone in my back pocket. Which was in a water proof bag...that was just open enough for my headphone cord to come out. That was enough to fill the bag and kill my phone. Aside from some bruises, I was fine and my bike was now CLEAN.
I hit the 1st check point, Joel cleaned my bike and lubed the chain. I ate, and changed into a fresh kit. Messed around with my broken phone for a bit, and decided it wasn't worth my energy to get angry over it. We decided that I should press on with NO PHONE. I had Joel's number in a Ziploc back in case I needed to bail. 130 miles to go, with no tunes. Kill me now.
After that check point, came the worst leg for me. The first two legs were about 75/77 miles and the final was just over 40 miles in length. I normally hit the wall around mile 80 on any century, and feel better somewhere in the 90's for no real reason. I eat and drink plenty. This was no different. I was soft pedaling for a bit dealing with a chain that decided it wanted to play some dub step for me. Skipping and making all kinds of horrible noises. Part of me wanted my derailleur to break like so many others had that day, so I could call it a day. I was tired and over it. Many a dark thought entered my mind, making the ride more miserable. Then on a climb the chain finally broke, after 20+ miles of not working right. FUCK. Oh wait, I remembered I had a quick link in my frame bag. Popped the broken link out, threw on the quick link in a matter of minutes, BOOM, my bike shifted like a dream.
GAME ON. I started to make up time to the second water stop. No bullshitting, just filled my bottles and took off. I made a hard push to the last check point in fear of not being able to make the cut off. Hard Push is a loose term.
I made it. I felt good. Axletree had just rolled out. They had lost more than half their riders to mechanicals or fitness. The ones that were out, offered to help me out at the check point. I ate more, put clean socks on, topped off my snacks and bottles and blasted out of there. At this point I was so excited, I couldn't believe it was going to happen. I felt good, bike worked good, and I was going to make the full 200!!!
I rolled with 10 guys for the 1st ten or so miles, but couldn't keep their pace 170 miles into the day. I dialed it back and pulled out my other Garmin. Yes, I brought two. Knowing that my 500 battery would die soon, I pulled up the course on my 200 and threw on the back light and went on my own pace.
This final section was full of the roughest rollers I'd ever ridden. Similar to the rollers at Barry-Roubiax, but made of jagged stone smashed by Thor's hammer. Nothing like blasting down sketchy sharp rocks with just a head light in the middle of the night.
With 5 miles left and I turned on the gas and made it to town. Making sure Stay Rad was represented, I pull off my jacket and stuffed it in my jersey. Full sprint and a bunny hop at the line. IT'S OVER. FEED ME.
200 miles. One broken iPhone 5c. One broken chain. ZERO flats. Over a dozen compliments about our caps and t-shirts.
I did it. With a broken face, and a sore neck from a crash a week ago. Riding 200 miles in one day does weird things to your body. Swollen bits, numb digits, and days of being sleepier than I'd ever been before. I will never forget this experience, and thank you to all friends cheering me on, either in person, or on the play by play going down on Facebook. Good bye Kansas. Don't call me, I'll call you.
Photos courtesy of Chad, Joel, and AdventureMonkey