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 Loaded up the car, fam, and the bikes and we were off for the annual spearfish 50 in South Dakota. Kyle from Billings, mentioned this race to me last year and it caught my interest. I heard it was easier then the Butte and well established and nicely put together. 8 hours later, and after stopping to check out Custer’s battlefield and Devils Tower (AWESOME), we had arrived at our KOA Saturday night 10 pm.

We pulled up to Spearfish Park, Sunday morning at 7 am. I could not believe all the bikers from all over the nation, including Canada. It was by far the biggest race I have ever been in. At the start line I would estimate about 500 riders or so. I heard it closed out. I would not be surprised to see this one with the other big ones like Breckenridge, Fire Cracker and Leadville.  Chad had heard closer to 700 had gotten through. I would in no way doubt that number. We were off. It was really fun to be riding in such a big group and with so many people cheering us on. The race felt of a higher caliber for sure.

The race started on a road that climbed to the single track. Once on the single track you were in a line with little to no passing possibilities. It was fun to see all the bikes a mile in the distance along with a huge dust cloud created from our rubbers. I was already assuming the climbs were nothing compared to the climbs we have here in Montana.

The stops were spaced 10 miles apart. They were well put together with people handing you heed, bananas, apples and lots of hammer gel. The stops were fun because so many were cheering you on. I did not stop at the first stop but I stopped at the other three. It was nice to have all that you needed at each stop. The views and riding through the aspens were great.

I felt strong on the climbs. The group determined your pace in many situations and there were little passing opportunities. There were a couple of climbs that were insane. I managed to ride most of them. I caught myself off my bike twice. I found myself not moving any faster then those people that were walking.  I would have to say the climbs were just as steep and many cases steeper then the climbs we have here. I was impressed and my assumptions lay to waste. I have a new respect for the Black Hills. Still nothing compared to the brutality of the Butte 50 though. That race feels like surgery.

At mile 40, I was feeling good. I looked down at my clock and I was under at 3:45. I figured I could maybe pull this thing off in 4 hours and 15 minutes or so. I remember Kyle telling me there was a large downhill in the last 10 miles of this race.  So I was expecting this fast smooth descent to the finish line.

The single track took forever and the first half of was really techy. The riding in many of the areas reminded me of riding in the northern half of AZ. You either kept it slow and smart or you break something. I kept if slow and smart. And it took me over an hour to get down and through the single track.  At this point, the course and I had formed a love hate relationship. I was ready for it to end and it was not. I kept telling myself that no matter what, I still have not cramped and this was good.  

In the last 10 miles this dude with gnarl beard and I were jockeying for position. In our discussions, I found out he was from Ft. Collins CO. I paced him and then owned him. In the last three miles and to my dismay, he had caught me. We were racing to the finish. I actually cramped at that last mile. He looked back to ask me what was wrong and I yelled in my little girley voice that I cramped. I came in at 4:45. I was happy to be under 5 hours and later found out that I sat in the 30th place with over 170 people in my 30-39 age category.

After the race, with a cold brew in hand and to the sound of incredible live music, I thought about what I could have done differently. I think with this type of race you have to get in the front at the beginning and stay there. If you do not then you will be caught in the line. I also found myself being much more cautious on the downs. I never knew what to expect and I was constantly changing between my granny and mid ring. Some of these guys in front of me were fearless on the climbs and well versed. Other then that and my excuses, it was a great experience and well worth it. I gave it my best and hope to have the chance to do it again.  This race was hands down, the most organized one I had been to. Do it if you have the chance.

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