Where to begin on The Crusher?!?
Seriously, maybe the hardest race I’ve ever done. Maybe I’ve forgotten how hard some of the stuff I did 10 years ago was, but daaaang, the Crusher was hard.
I didn’t really know what to expect. As mentioned in my previous post, I have done some training specifically with the event in mind, but probably not “enough”. What’s enough? It’s never enough, obviously.
We rolled out of town (beautiful Beaver, Utah, that is) really easy. There were some pretty big hitters in the pro field and it was kind of surreal being in a field like that after barely racing the past couple years. As soon as we hit the first proper climb, the field detonated like a bomb had gone off. I felt like I was dropped way early and I distinctly remember thinking “I should go back to crit racing; it comes way more naturally to me than this stuff”.
But, as I’d dragged the family down, there was no way back to the finish, and I wanted to proved to myself I could do it, I kept trying to climb a steady hard pace. I have a pretty bad history since I quit pro racing of quitting every time I find myself out of my league in a race. Various drop-outs at Tours of Utah are proof. I somehow got in that mentality of quitting, so I really wanted to put forth a good effort regardless (or irregardless, if you prefer) of how much I was getting smoked.
And slowly I started pulling some guys back. Around 2 hours into the race, I got caught by a few age groupers. This was probably the most fun section of the race. My pal, Shelby was in this group and we were rocking over the roll-y section at the top of the course and onto the descent. The descent proper, was batshit crazy, for lack of a better word. Really, is there any word better to describe a crazy event? Crazy as a shit house rat, maybe? Sorry, I know I’m not supposed to curse, but I want to get the point across that the descent was crazy and crazy alone doesn’t seem to do it. Anyway, out of our little group, one guy flatted and another guys’ seatpost snapped on the descent. A guy on a mountain bike got a little gap on Shelby and I (both on cross bikes), so I wanted to help him catch that guy (also a friend, Chris Stuart).
As we hit the pavement, we caught him pretty easy. Around this time, I felt the best I did all day. Not surprisingly since it’s pretty much the only flat part of the course, but I was killing it here. Without really trying, I rode away from that group and caught and passed a bunch of people. I think the conventional wisdom would be to find a group and rest during that section, but I knew it was the best part for me, so I wanted to cut time where I could. And I’ll be straight up, I hauled ass through here.
And then…The Col d’ Crush. Holy shitake. The never-ending climb from hell. Dirt road, steep as a ladder, 100% exposed… You could see people ahead and behind you, but everyone is going so slow, it’s like no progress is being made. And once you do get to the top (and I could write another 6 paragraphs about just how long, ugly and slow this climb was), it doesn’t really flatten out. You still go primarily up for umm, forever. I was literally ready to cry for a descent. I actually stopped briefly at one of the many, super well stocked aid station/feed zones and downed a can of coke.
There was eventually a brief descent or two and then the agonizing climb to the finish. Oh man, this was like slow-mo. From the 500 meter sign, I was literally counting out each meter passed.
Over the finish, someone took my bike (and they could have been taking it to Canada for all I cared), sat me down and gave me a Coke. I literally wanted to cry. “Why am I still hurting?!? I’m no longer pedaling!!”.
Slowly, I came out of my stupor and realized that was the raddest thing I’ve done on a bike in a long time and started making completely unrealistic plans in my head for how awesome I can be in next years’ Crusher.
For the record, I wound up 24th out of 55-ish in the pro field. I was pretty content with that. As content as you can be being an HOUR down on the weiner.
I should probably thank my Kelly for taking care of the wee-ones (and me) all weekend. We had a great weekend at Eagle Point resort! Kelly has done a post with more on the family side of the trip. It was great seeing (and suffering with) some of my old teammates and friends. Great to see everyone out Crushing it!!
In summary, this is a bucket list race. You gotta do it. Great support from the town of Beaver and top notch organization. And pain. Sweet, sweet pain.