He missed it because he was less worried about lap times than he was about the well being of his fellow racers, and along the way, he ended up playing a part in more than his own trail story.
You helped a few fellow racers out on the course. Who were they and what happened?
By now, the whole race is pretty fuzzy, but three people come to mind. The first was a guy who was wincing due to a really bad foot cramp. He couldn't pedal more than 100 feet at a time. I walked with him for a minute or two, offering electrolytes, food and some suggestions for working out the cramp. I tried to sympathize by telling him how much I know foot cramps suck. I think that was about my second lap.
The second was a solo rider I caught up to on my third lap who looked pretty bad. I rolled beside him for a few minutes. He seemed ok, just tired. I offered some food, electrolytes and some attempt at encouragement before pushing slowly onward.
Shortly after that, at about the 71-mile point, I was tailing 20 feet behind another solo rider who was really hauling on the rocky descent. We were in a groove when, out of nowhere, the drive side of her crank set flew off. Crank arm, chain rings and pedal, gone in a split second. The crank hit the ground, unclipped from her shoe and smacked the rear derailleur. It was pretty catastrophic and a miracle she didn't go down with it.
I asked her if her leg was okay since it looked like it may have been caught by the chain ring, but she was fine. We assessed the damage. It looked like I could have rigged it to work single-speed if we could get the crank reattached. I walked back up the hill 50 feet or so looking for the bolt, to no avail. She said it had felt funny at the top of the hill, which meant the bolt was long gone. I had no compatible donor bolts on my bike. I wanted to do more, but staring at it wasn't going to fix anything and she insisted that I move on, so I did.
At the end of the day, I missed the 11-hour cutoff by three minutes, but I wasn't upset. I made it to the finish line where my wife handed me the best beer I've ever had and the big red clock didn't really matter anymore. Given the chance, I wouldn't have ignored anyone in order to get those three minutes back.
During Barn Burner, was there ever a time when you needed someone to roll up alongside you and offer some assistance or moral support?
At the 102-mile point, I was exhausted to the point of walking. One of the last riders I came across rode beside me for a couple of minutes while I walked to cool down. He seemed genuinely concerned since I probably looked like hell. He offered water and food, but I cordially declined since I still had plenty of each. After 10 hours of downing the usual race foods and liquids, I couldn't stomach any more of it. All I wanted was ice water and a beer. He reassured me that I'd finish in time with the walking/coasting pace I had dropped down to. His positive energy felt really good.
Are you a seasoned mountain biker or newer to the sport? Have you done any other races?
I've been riding casually for about four years and only started to get more serious around late summer 2011. So, I have less than a year of regularly riding once or more a week. I would consider myself well practiced, but not seasoned. My wife and I have been doing the Epic Rides races since 2010. I think I caught the race bug at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. That's about when I decided I would do something crazy and sign up for the Barn Burner.
What were your goals for Barn Burner?
My primary goal was to cross the finish line. It was my first century ride, let alone mountain bike century at higher altitude. I decided I would attempt to pace myself for an 11-hour finish so I could get that sweet buckle and deserve the super-sale Barn Burner jersey I was wearing.
How did you feel on race morning and how did you prepare to go the distance?
I felt good that morning and wasn't nervous. I slept well the night before, aided by a freakin' awesome meal from Beaver Creek Brewery. Before leaving for the race, I went over my mental pre-race checklist over a huge bowl of Cheerios. I had everything I needed and my wife was going to be my pit crew, so I was totally set. The only uncertainty I had was how much the altitude would affect me (I live in Tucson).
To train, I purchased a training plan from LWCoaching.com that was focused on finishing your first 100-mile mountain bike race. It consisted of about five rides a week, ending with an eight-hour ride before tapering. Overall, I've been putting in about 30 hours a month on the bike since January. I did two 80-mile rides the month prior to the race, so I was feeling pretty cocky about 104 miles.
Doing any more endurance MTB events this year? Do you have any interest in ever doing Leadville?
As of right now, my next race will be the Tour of the White Mountains 60-miler. I think I'm prepared to tackle that, so why not? I won't be competitive, but I love the forest, so I'll have a ball just finishing comfortably.
I'm conflicted about Leadville. To me, it's the end-all, be-all of mountain bike racing, the end game for the gods on knobby tires. The Barn Burner schooled me on what real endurance racing is about and I'm not convinced I have what it takes to do the Race Across the Sky. Despite being a mere mortal, I do feel it taunting me!
Anything else you'd like to share with your fellow athletes?
Keep it real and don't forget why we all do this in the first place. It's all about friends, rides, beer . . . and some other stuff I can't think of at the moment.