|True Grit 2013
The True Grit offered 100, 50, and 23 mile options. The 50-mile course was 50.6 miles of 100% dirt and sandstone. Total climbing was 5700 vertical feet.
New trail sections made this year's Grit about 10% harder than 2012. Most riders' times were a little slower, and we finished a little more beat-up. Compared to 2012, 5 miles of pavement was replaced with rolling jeep road, and 1.4 miles of easy doubletrack was replaced with technical singletrack.
The finish line blows down in a stiff south wind.
|Support areas were at the bottom of Zen and at the bottom of Barrel Roll. Racers' drop-bags with food and drink were delivered to the checkpoints at the start of the race, so they'd be waiting for us as we came through. I went through 9.5 24-ounce electrolyte bottles -- out of 11 planned -- containing about 200 calories each, 3 gel bottles at 400 calories each, one tube of Coconutz balls, and one bite of a peanut butter Balance Bar. (Tasty, but not recommended when racing with a desert-dry throat. For several minutes I had Balance Bar clinging to the top of my esophagus like an angry crab.)|
| At the 9 a.m. race start, it was pleasantly warm while
wearing only a standard racing kit. We took off into the desert from Tonaquint Intermediate School,
just off the road connecting Dixie Drive to Bloomington. So unlike last
year, there was no 2.5 miles of pavement cruising at the start and finish.
Instead, racers followed jeep road up and over the rolling hills to the
Green Valley race loop (mile 3).
Photo: The Dip. One of the technical features on the Zen Trail.
At the top of the GV race loop (mile 7.4, after the climb up Rock Wash), we plunged
down to the bottom on doubletrack before turning back uphill (mile 8.8) and climbing
the downhill singletrack to the top of Barrel (mile 10.1). At the bottom of Barrel,
the course deviated from last year's doubletrack to 0.2 miles of new
narrow singletrack before turning toward Zen.
From the Zen support area (mile 13), we headed up Zen counterclockwise. This year, the course included the entire Zen loop. So instead of dropping out to dirt road at the bottom like last year, we banged back uphill on a 1.2-mile section of technical rock -- which I consider to be the hardest part of the entire Zen loop.
Back at the Zen checkpoint (mile 18.8), it was time to load up food and drink for the long haul around Bearclaw, Stucki, and Rim Reaper. No rest here. The constant rolling climbs of Stucki kill the legs. Then at the Cottonwood Wash overlook (mile 25.2), we turned and flew north.
From the Stucki Springs road, two-way doubletrack connected us to the Rim Reaper singletrack (mile 29). A quick climb, then a loose rocky plunge on Rim Rock back to the stepover gate at mile 30.4. The course then dropped down through Cove Wash and up to the Barrel Roll trailhead (mile 31.3).
|Next up: Two laps around Barrel Roll. By this time, the temperature had reached 80
degrees. It was getting a little warm for those of us from the frozen
north. At times, a light breeze offered relief. Lap 1 finished at mile 37;
lap 2 at mile 42.8.
After passing again through the Barrel Roll checkpoint, the route headed down the singletrack toward Santa Clara. This year, the course turned uphill at mile 43.9 -- 1/3 mile before the paved road -- to connect back to the dirt Stucki Springs Road. Fast doubletrack delivered us into Cove Wash (mile 45.3). Another mile and it's time to climb out of the wash to the Green Valley race loop. This is the first of a couple of ugly climbs that separate us from the finish line. Southbound, then east on doubletrack. By now, there's a headwind. It was a relief to crest the final hill at mile 50 and see the finish area below.
|Jason Sparks was the top performer for the
UtahMountainBiking.com team, taking 4th place in the 50-mile Men 35-plus
category. That's Jason on the right.
Brian Jeppson and Mark Messer finished just behind Jason at 6th and 7th place. Strong showing for the UMB team.
|And here's my blood-and-Grits story: You know the big
rock drop on downhill Zen? About five feet high and almost straight down?
The one that sane people go around to the right? I was passing a guy on the
left and suddenly the abyss opened in front of me. No problem, I've done this
before. But as I roll over the edge, I see that there's a missing piece in the kickout rocks at the bottom.
And I'm heading straight for the hole. I
throw the handlebars forward and prepare for a hard landing. But as the
front wheel touches down, the fork twists 90 degrees on the stem. Thud.
In addition to a bunch of scratches and a sprained wrist, I opened up my right elbow again. You know, the Sundance Elbow. A hematoma formed under the cut. Every time I'd flex my elbow, blood would squirt out. Like when pumping the handlebars over a ledge. Or raising the water bottle to my mouth.
| I decided to skip a bandage at the Zen support station. I was
afraid they'd tell me my race was over. So I headed on, through a migraine
aura that took out the center of my vision on the downhill side of Stucki;
and through the nausea afterwards.
I started to feel better about mile 35. I get more aggressive -- and pay for it by dumping on the tech spot at the far end of Barrel. Add a couple of minor scrapes.
Photo: The elbow at day four. The cut has sealed nicely and the hematoma is down to just a little bump.
|But I have one more "oops" to go. On that mean
little climb out of Cove Wash, I managed to drop the left elbow
into the dirt when I tipped over. Almost to the top, cramped, and failed to
click out as the bike went over sideways. The elbow was already scraped,
and the gravel dug into the skin a little deeper.
Crashing aside, this race took more out of me than any other. Even Lotoja doesn't compare for total-body-trashing. Deliciously brutal.
|UMB Team Members Race Results:
Epic 50 (50-mile)
Jason Sparks M 35-49 4th place 4:28:51
Brian Jeppson M 35-49 6th place
Mark Messer M 35-49 7th place
Dave Benson M 35-49 16th place
Shane Horton M 35-49 34th place
Bruce Argyle M 50-plus 14th place
Rick Morris M 50-plus 17th place
Cat Kalwies Female Open 3rd place
Adam Little Men Open 5th place
Garrett Hays Men Open 8th place
|Mike Engberson provided racer support with food and water
handups at the Zen checkpoint.
Thanks to Mike for working overtime to get my bike ready to race!
Above map in new window: MAP True Grit 2013 GPX track of 2013 race: GPX True Grit 2013
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