Long-time GrassMoots rider Dave Gensch files this report on the 24hrs in the Enchanted Forest, insights from the race are only a side note, life balance and appreciation for those around you are the key to reaching your goals.
“Speak less of your goals – You will get more of them done”
I was asked a while back about what I have learned and what am I going to change for this race. My answer usually follows a similar thread. While often in my head, (perhaps a bit too much), I anxiously fantasize about the finite details of even a simple lunch ride. So a race, reluctantly and passionately, consumes me. The balance of life, family, work, bikes, and goals, is a delicate one that I still am very clearly working on.
The sky was full of smoke as we left town, and the reminder of how a hot and dry few weeks can dramatically change everything as the fires West of us raged. Jeff, my good buddy and crewmate and I, drove south over McClure Pass. It was the first time that I had revisited the site where, just a month ago, I seriously tested fate in an uncontrollable speed wobble event at 50 MPH on a road bike…Not cool whatsoever and I’m glad I’m still here.
The bountiful harvest lands of the Grand Valley sported young hops, grapes and other crops of the sun, and gently transitioned into the foothills of the Mt. Snuffles range. The basin of Lizard Head Pass was filled with wetland plants, streams, and flowers. Some of the precipitous craggy peaks, were brushed with red iron oxide, others in sharp Grays and Tans, but all still holding remnants of the past winters snow…an iconic absolutely stunning mountain valley.
The mountains faded back down into the high dessert and then further into an often bleak, barren dessert and the temperature conversely increased. As we entered Reservation Country, I am always humbled and have an unsettling felling, seeing what we, as a nation, provided to the true elders of this country. Thinking about the new generations born into this existence, makes driving 8 hours to a bike race for the weekend seem beyond vain.
We arrived Thursday evening and I was grateful that we had not made better time as we watched the thermometer in the truck hit 100 just an hour before. We found a nice site close to the venue start/finish area and the course and unloaded. The next morning, whispers of fresh espresso at the venue trickled through camp, and Jaime brewed me a few Americanos as we chatted about bikes and life in the already dusty morning sun.
Brad Herauf from Bend was camped with us and we pre road the 13.2 mile course. With about 1000’ of vertical, the all single track course had some flowing and fast sections mixed in with an, at times, punchy and technical 3 mile climb, and a few mile technical downhill that kept you honest. It was a fun course with varied types of forest that you ride through from a dry streambed with a tight deciduous “tunnel like” canopy, to the tall Ponderosa pines that attempted to filter the dusty sky thick with pollen. Rob Peterson arrived in the late afternoon and we put the finishing touches on our evolving group camp.
I slept well as the night cooled down nicely and it felt great to sleep in. My mom and oldest son made it to a Gallup Hotel and were supposed to come mid morning before the race start. When the generation that unequivocally found their way via old school maps, relies on a GPS, there are bound to be issues. Magically, an acutely small and equally random spot of cell reception transpired, and I was able to re route them. They showed up 15 minutes before the start. After getting them settled in, I began the race albeit missing the proper start by a minute…or three.
The sun was already high in the sky and the first few twitchy laps of the group stirred up the chalk like dust into a fine powder that hung in the motionless atmosphere. By 4:00 the temperature was nudging at triple digits and with each lap a dousing of cooler water on the head and body was virtually mandatory. By mile two or three I was dry and hot again. I had focused on hydration as I always do, but my early pee was reminiscent of Mountain Dew.
By lap 5 the sun was low in the sky and there were large sections of the course that were in the shade. It was a huge relief as I had already found some of the dark corners in my brain that are usually not tampered with until a much latter hour.
Playing catch up, my hydration levels began to even out and I had a few good laps as the set red in the calm evening sky.
The start of the nighttime laps bring a sense of relief coupled with some anxiety about the journey ahead. Due to life’s circumstances, the preverbal “well” was not as deep as I had wished. I already scraped the sides and bottom of it a few times before 1:00 A.M. On this lap I had many close calls as I pin balled my way, albeit rubber side down, back to camp and decided a short nap was more a matter of self preservation than anything else.
I briefly wiped myself clean-ish, put on a fresh kit, and lied down for an hour and a half. Pancakes, bacon and coffee do wonders to the soul at 3:00 A.M. Jeff helped me back on my rig and the next two night laps brought me to my favorite pre dawn time as the trees begin make silhouettes against the steel dark blue morning sky. It is always interesting to ride the first lap of the morning with lights no longer needed and re-see the course with natural light. You see funny stuff, like the soft corners that were looser than you though, or the rock ledge that is now not so dramatic.
At 8:00 A.M. I finally looked at the standings because the wall had be hit, and climbed over quite a few times by now. I was in 6th place and honestly had very little left in my shallow tank. My son Fisher was really excited for the kid’s race at 8:30 and, with some initial reservations, I pulled the plug.
Being able to watch Fisher’s race made his…and my heart so full, that the difference between 6th and 8th place, (where I finished) was irrelevant. It was however a tough pill for me to swallow recently having good success and some podium finishes. To bring a crewmate and family, especially that far away from home and finish just ahead of mid-field brings me inward. It was a good reality check for me on many levels. My passion and effort does not correlate with the “depth of my well”, only what’s in it. The “depth”, naturally, comes with more sacrifice and time in the saddle. As I said, “Speak less of your goals-you will get more of them done”.
Many thanks to Jeff; you are a rock for me. Mom, thanks for driving all that way, getting lost and being a trouper. Fisher, I am so proud of the young boy that you are and was so stoked to see you race. The Moots crew, you guys continue to give me such amazing support and my MX YBB was again a flawless machine that continually begs for more with nothing needed in return.