Kent and Jed put on a really good race and despite temps in the low teens a little over 100 people toed the line for 100k of gravelly goodness.
I lined up with some of my Rassy teammates and discussed riding together at a reasonable pace. However, once the group started I had this urge to push to the front. My hesitation in the first mile had me watching a lead group of over 30 pull away. I quickly thought of the benefits of drafting with a large group and put my head down hoping to catch them. However, after we made it to about mile 3 or 4, I realize it wasn't going to happen without blowing myself up.
I joined up with Jason Alread and Jacob Naumann (Rassy's riders) and we set a reasonable pace over the next 25miles of rolling hills. I could usually keep my heart rate at or below 140 and it was turning into a great early season training session.
The only issues that I was having was with my glasses freezing over and with my camelback freezing. I had the winter hydration tube, but after one drink it froze solid.
We stayed together until the check point that was near mile 30.
At this point, my pack was carrying 3lbs of water that I couldn't use (unless I stopped and drank from the screw top). I drank a quick glass of water and had two fantastic tasting cookies at the checkpoint. Jacob and I jumped back on the bikes under 5 minutes later and hit the road with the assumption that Jason would catch back up.
Jacob and I rode together for 20-30 minutes and were catching others often. Eventually, I found myself pulling away. I decided to put my head down and jump from rider to rider in front of me. I made a game of it and was enjoying it. A few of the hills were difficult, but mostly within a reasonably hard effort.
According to the stats, I passed somewhere around 17 people in the last half of the race, but around mile 54 (of 64), I started losing energy (no water and no food since the checkpoint). I maintained my pace and pulled a few more racers in. The final hills were the hardest as my gearing was tall and you couldn't stand without spinning your rear tire on the snow.
I ended up finishing right at 5hours which was right at my goal time. My average heart rate for the 5 hours was 142, so the first half was nice and low and the second half was a solid tempo pace.
The finish party at the Cumming Tap was a blast. Lots of good company with the riders and everyone else that came out to join in the fun. Thanks to Bob for hosting us out there.