As most of you know, last weekend was the Sub 9 Death March. If you were not there, then you missed out on another great event put on by Sub 9. I would not have asked for better weather. With the way the weather keeps changing, it could have been a whole lot worse. I headed up Friday to get signed in and enjoy one of the very fine cabin on the Midwest Trail riders grounds. The last minute changes in the construction plans, had the bridge out. Everyone was worried that crossing the creek was going to be an issue. Turns out it was not the issue at all.
My teammate this year was Lyle and the plan was to hit the mandatory check points and as many others that we could get too with out digging in too deep or riding all day. I slept good in the cabin and was up plenty early. The water was boiled and the coffee actually did not taste too bad. It was not the best that I have ever had, but it was drinkable. I even had some more. The stove was put in to double duty as the neighbors 2 cabins down needed some water boiled. I was more than happy to help them out.
Choosing what to wear was not as easy of a task as I would have liked. It was supposed to be fairly cool when we start, but warm up as the day went on. The warmest part of the day was not going to be until we planned on being back or close to it. The previous day was warmer than what it was supposed to be, so I was not sure just how warm the day would be. I took a chance and went with it. Overall I was very happy with my choice. I was cool at times and hot at others, but overall it was just about right.
We had a plan that we were going to stick with no matter if it was the best route or not. The extra check points went along with our plan with out going too far out of the way. We went different route than the masses, but we were not the only ones. We decided to skip the creek and head up trail 80. That climb was a good warm up. We cruised down the trail faster than the time we scouted it and soon enough we were on the road heading toward the first check point.
Next we were going to head toward Callahan. I was riding strong and had to keep telling myself to slow down and pace myself. I was happy with myself when I cleaned the switch back climb on trail 15. We ran in a friend who’s partner had some back luck with his chain. Having the right tools I agreed to help him out. It did not go as smooth as it should have. It took a little longer than I would have liked, but he was on his way rolling again and so were we. A quick stop at the check point and we kept moving on.
Next we made our way toward Elkinsville with a few stops on the way. That was a bit of a haul out Combs road with it being wet and soft in areas, but it was actually not as wet as I thought it would be. From there we were going to head back on part of Nebo and over to Berry Ridge rd. It was nice and down hill for a while once we hit the road. We did a little out and back to pick up two more check points. After looking at the map, I think we should have picked up Thomson while we were there too, but the thought was there was a good sized hill. The map has it on the other side of the check point. Oh well. If we would have gone that way, we might have missed the best stop of the day. Jonathan and Charles were on the corner passing out goodies. I had to enjoy myself a beer to get me the rest of the way back home.
We tried not to spend too much time there and headed down the road. It was a longer road than what I was thinking. Maybe it was just because it was late in the day. Eventually we rolled across the bridge and was getting closer to the car. We picked up Robertson and kept rolling. At this point I think we were both ready to be back at the car and all we could do is just keep moving. We didn’t stop at the fire tower. I figured it would be that much harder to leave again. After what seemed like hours, we finally rolled around the corner to see the turn in for Todd. After a quick stop and a short scare that we might have to push a stuck car, we were rolling toward 446. It felt great to roll up to 446. At this point I was pedaling harder and had to keep slowing up to wait on Lyle. I have a hard time keeping my pace when I can smell the car. All I wanted to do was get off the bike.
We made the trip over to pick up the correct Hillenburg-Stephenson check point. We did it as an out an back and did not worry about the other two check points that would have included more climbing. Soon enough we were back on 446 and we could see a couple of teams heading up the hill. I would have to guess that they realized they had the wrong check point and going to get the correct one. There were a few teams that did that. It is very important to do your homework for events like this. It was easy to think that was the correct one and maybe we would have done the same if we didn’t scout that area out first.
I think Lyle would have been just fine taking the right and heading toward the MTR parking lot, but I stayed just ahead of him and rolled toward Mitchell. I figured we were there and it was not that far down the road. I do not know what pushed me to go for another one, but I am glad I did. It was not very far, and not much climbing. Soon after we were getting our feet wet crossing the creek and excited to be done. Races/rides like this one are a blast and I can’t wait to do it again, but after a good day on the bike, I am just ready to get off and take a break. I was starving, so after a quick change we headed over to get some food. The Qdoba bar was picked over, but there was enough stuff left to get plenty to eat.
I turned our pictures in and checked the door prizes. We both won a big jug of Heed and a Dirt Rag water bottle. I guess now I can try that stuff out and see if I like it. If not, I know a few people that would be interested. As the results are in, we ended up just fine. The route we took put us right at 56 miles. We did it in 6:54 total time with more like 5:35 actual ride time and picked up 12 check points. When they do all the math, we ended up in 41st place for the Men’s division and 57th place overall. With out the chain fixing, I think it would have only put us up a couple of places, so not really a big game changer to not help someone out.
I want to thanks Sub 9 and all the volunteers for working so hard to put on another great event!! Thanks to the Midwest Trail Ride for letting us invade your place for the weekend. Thanks to all the companies who sponsored this event! Your support is greatly appreciated I am looking forward to the Gravel Grovel.