Tushar Crusher | What Happened?!
I'll tell you what happened! We packed up and arrived in Beaver following a setting sun. The evening temps were phenomenal. The sky was clear except for one lone cloud hanging over the Tushar Mountains. We walked into the packet pickup location and retrieved our bibs and set out for camp, which was the local KOA, which worked perfectly. By then the moon was on its way up and it was 9:40pm. We needed a spin so we set out on the random roads of Beaver, Utah in search of adventure. At the end of our road we were pretty sure we found an old meth house... we turned back there. As we looked up to the moon, it was resting on the cloud above the Tushars surrounded by clear and starry skies. It was magical, despite the meth house.
Sleep was difficult to maintain, a foreshadow of my momentum up the Col 'd Crush, an ascent so heinous that everyone struggles. It is a steep washboard, gravelly, dusty, road that climbs for maybe 3 miles heaven ward. But you don't feel like you're going to heaven. You feel like you're at the gates of some kind of human press. That had been on my mind as I didn't fully understand what was down the road for me.
So I finally woke up and got my things together. A slow morning routine is my way. It's hard not to do things in a certain order very slowly. By the time I had my act together it was 7:25am, and racer meeting was 7:45. We still had to get a warm up on! Lousy way to plan out a race morning!
Starting line - Basically there were 8 port-a-potties and each one had its very own long line. Bruce Bilodeau was announcing and commenting, one subject being that there was a lot of nervous energy and to look at the restrooms.. It was true. Pre-race nerves were at an all time high. My pre-race anxiety had faded by then. Now it was time to ride. So I looked around and started seeing some guys I knew. Actually there were a bunch of us from Heber. We also have some of the best training ground for an event like this, which might be why we decided this would be fun.
The pros took off. And then 4 other groups. Then it was our turn. It was like waiting in line for your turn at the water slide. The slow start was just like the start of a road race with some bozos up front setting a 23mph pace most of the way out of Beaver and slowing barely for the canyon ahead. It was a classic start group, bumping elbows with the other early 30 year olds. Drafting technique however looked shoddy at best; very elastic. Then once I opened my eyes I noticed that there wasn't even a single road bike. At best there were a variety of CX bikes but to my very shock is a dude on a 26" full susser stumpy. I wasn't working. He must have been struggling! There were plenty dudes on 29ers. There were a couple of guys on single speeds. And then there was the tandem. What? Yes. A coed tandem. They got divorced at the finish line.
In fact, they crossed the finish line at about 7 hours I think and shocked the world. They were in great spirits. I scratched my head for a while trying to figure out how they made it down the Col'd Crush, and how the heck they made it through the Sarlacc Pit and finally up the Col'd Crush. But I was too tired by then to really think too hard about it.
Well, the starting line was getting pretty far behind us as we climbed the canyon. It was beautiful. It was a cool morning. We were all fresh and plenty of strength to go around. I enjoyed the paceline. I knew that once we got to the actual climbing, only 3 miles up that the game would change and all the skinny guys would ride right on by me. I have my climbing legs for the season and my bike has its own. We worked together to keep a pace that wouldn't set me back for the climb to come, the Col'd Crush. We left the highway and headed up into the hills on more pavement. after a couple miles of climbing the pavement gave way to the best kind of dirt ever. The Tushars had been receiving mass amounts of rain over the previous couple days and the dirt road was tacky! It made me want to be shredding trail on my own 26" wheel stumpy. But alas, I was at home on an awesome bike, on tacky dirt road, in the woods of the cool mountain air of the Tushars.