Before last year I had done every Death March there was. I was bummed that I missed it, but with the weather not being good it made it a little easier to get over. This year I thought that I was going to miss it too. It was not that I had anything on on that day it was more that I had a lot going on the weekends around it. Just when I made up my mind to not worry about finding a partner and skip it another year, a team mate fell in to my lap @alexeatsbeans and something came up that his partner could not make it. After several days of contemplating and making the decision to not race, I changed my mind and agreed to race in less than 1 minute. This is just the kind of race that I really enjoy being part of and I could not pass up the chance to have this partner.
I have had all kinds of situations in previous years. Some times I was the stronger rider and had to put out the pace that the other team mate wanted to ride. Some years I was the slow person of the team and the fate was in my hands. I had a lot harder times the years that someone was waiting on me than I did the years I waited on someone else. I am not normally too worried about how I would finish, it was more about the experience and to what point could we push ourselves to the limit. I have done it where we would go to complete all the check points and some years where it was just the mandatory and head back.
This year had the potential to be a little more than previous years. Now don’t get me wrong, we did not think at all about going for a good result. We didn’t really plan anything out at all. I really didn’t look at the maps and what time bonuses there were from each check point. A couple days before the race I did look at where the mandatory check points were just so I had a better idea where we needed to go. I had a map that showed where the check points were so we could figure out where we needed to go when the missing check points were drawn. We had only briefly discussed the plan for the day. We were both in agreement that we were just going to go get some check points and head back. We were also going to skip all the trails if they were not pulled as a mandatory.
The last check points were drawn and we were off. We talked about a couple options to make the two additional stops on top of the plan. We didn’t really worry about it and off we went to the first stops. It was pretty obvious that we were not too worried about our time by how little we hurried to take our pictures and move on heading to the next stops. If I would have done a little more planning we would not have stopped at the wrong cemetery. After we took our picture and started to move on, someone else came up and made the comment that it was the wrong one. So, we had to move on and make another stop to get the correct one.
It seemed that our lack of planning was not the only thing not going our way. With my bike still being trashed from the Gravel Grovel, I had yet to get it working 100% the way it should be. I did a few more tweaks on it the week leading up to the race, but I guess I needed to do a few more things. My back wheel was rubbing on the frame as I was putting power down. I stopped twice to try and make adjustments to fix the issue, but it didn’t really make a difference. Some how it finally stopped rubbing so much. I also had an issue with the crank arm coming loose. I had that issue on the previous ride and thought I addressed the issue, but it didn’t agree. I just put my wrench in my back pocket so it was close by if I needed to use it again.
One thing that I found with having a partner that is also a runner, this was one of the few times that I actually climbed the fire tower. Usually one or both of us don’t have the legs. It was not as bad as I thought it would be and it was a nice view at the top. The traffic slowed the climbing and descending, but I think we still netted a time savings for climbing it and that is all that really mattered. From here we moved on to the check points that were on the east side of the map. At the Maumee bridge we should have taken the effort to go pick up the Fleetwood check point, but at that point we were thinking that we would be going right by it on way in anyway and can get it then.
After hitting several check points and climbing a lot more hills, we were starting to feel it in our legs. We started thinking about how we would head back in. The extra trip to Fleetwood seemed like it would take longer that just taking a trail an toward the last check point of the day. We were really wishing that we would have gone ahead and picked it up earlier that day, but it was too late now. We took the trail across and headed toward Hickory Ridge. After a quick stop we then busted it down the hill back toward the car.
We were making some really good time and flying down the road. We figured the extra time to Mitchell was also not worth the effort to go there, so we turned on to the bridge and rolled across the finish line. It was a much shorter day than we figured it would be, but we still had a good ride. This was all for a training ride and fun anyway. After we settled in it seemed we were in some strange company. There were only a couple teams who finished and some of them were the ones that If figured would win. I know they had more check points, but with the time we finished in we could not help but wonder how well we finished. The food or beer was not there yet. I had never had that happen to me before.
We ended up riding 44 miles in just over 3 hours and had 11 check points. This sounded pretty good, but ended up not being as good as it sounded. If we would have done a little more home work and saw that Callahan was worth 50 min. I am sure we would have gone there. If I would have done a little more planning and scouting, I would have noticed that right across the road from the one check point was another way to Callahan that I never took and would have been the right way to go. Instead we went farther down the road to take a different trail that came out just down the road from the other one. That last check point would have made a big difference. We would have also picked up that other check point earlier in the day.
In actuality it is hard telling how the day would have ended up if we would have went for the other check points. We could have had some major issues that really slowed us down or could have kept us from finishing. I am really happy with the day and that is all that matters. I had a great time riding my bike with someone who kept me laughing all day. It is hard to ask for much more. Maybe another year I will do a little more planning and see if it would make any difference, but it really does not make any difference. Good times had by all is the only thing I ever need to ask for on the bike. See you next year.