A local route steeped in history. I was without a bike or much fitness after moving last year so this was the first opportunity I had at it. It was a tough one, but it was a glorious one. 100% redeemed my Overland ride. The flooding from the past year had washed pretty much all dirt off these ancient roads and we had more than 2″ of rain the day before. We effectively rode up and down stream beds with fully exposed rock for hours on end.

I performed about as well as I could have hoped. A local teen took off from the start and given past experience riding with him, I assumed he’d run out of juice so I let him go (spoiler: he has come a LONG way in two months… super impressive). I settled into second for the day. To be clear, this wasn’t a race, but also not a touring ride.

At the first “stop” (I skipped it) they said he was five minutes up. No big deal, three hours to go.

The second time I came across someone, one of the founders of local mountain biking who had taken a head-start, at around two hours or halfway in, he said the gap was ten minutes. Wow. Not gonna happen today.

I kept on pedaling and hiking and at the third stop, at which I did need to grab a few calories, they hurried me along saying he was only two minutes up! We had a downhill ahead of us and despite him being a little bit familiar with it considering he lived at the bottom of it, I weigh an easy 50% more. That’s downhill speed. I caught him at the bottom of the climb. I’m not sure if it was my effort or the fact he was lacking directions.

We rode into town (took a break to give Mia a kiss!) and up to the final climb together. Based on short climbs we’d done since reconnecting, I knew I didn’t stand a chance. I bid him farewell and we shared congratulations at the finish.

So hard, so much fun. Bombing down streams is such an incredible feeling. Can’t wait until next year – was an excellently run event to boot (mmm soup!).

With this ride the season is effectively over. I’ve already begun online racing as captain of a European team (their timezone aligns well with lunch) and the first winter season is about to come to a close. We had a mid-pack finish, but that’s moot because it’s really just a way to keep motivated over the long, cold, dark months to come. No, I’m totally not already depressed.