The Race was held at Franklin Mountains State Park with a total of 146 confirmed riders as of Wednesday evening pre-registration cutoff time.
The race was cut into 3 pieces to form the 50 mile puzzler. The 1st piece was an 8 mile loop that ran across the lower foothills on the mid north east section of the mountain range and looped back toward the start/finish line to complete the 1st piece of the puzzler. After nearly 900 ft of climbing my legs and lungs were in for a long day.
Unfortunetly, Mike had 3 pinched flats on the Pipeline Road and had to run the final 2 miles back to the start/finish line. We all know racing and this is one of those things thats just fustrates the heck out of us. Believe me he would recover and recover with a vengeance!!!
The 2nd piece of the puzzle was a 27 mile ride. First we would spin are legs throught the Lazy Cow trail the onto the Old Tin Mine road then we went up and around the southern portion of the Franklin Mts. on Mundy’s Gap trail. I knew It would be a grinder for me and the other five riders I was climbing with. Next thing I hear, in the faint distance “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”. You know it Mitey Mike was climbing like he probably never climbed before. Leaving me and 20-25 other riders in the dust. Was really glad to see him back where he should have been from the start. I just kept swimming up stream knowing I had great company up the mountain. Unfortunetly that did’nt last long the guys I was with started to walk more than ride and that left me all alone to do push myself to my limit and by time I reached the top my limit had been spent, just under 1900 ft of climbing in under 8 miles.
What a great view!! The downhill descent would be tricky. Alot of loose soil and rocks would test our skills. We both make it to the 1st feed zone where Debbie and Jenn were waiting for us. It’s always a GREAT feeling to see there faces out there. We’ve done 3 other races this series and had others cheering us on but when its your wife or friends is even sweeter. The next 10 miles to the 2nd feed station were really cool Up and Down the trail trying to stay away from the thorning pointy plants!! I did get a pin hole in my front tire during this section but the stans did it’s job. Mike had prepared me very well for this race. Rocky, Hilly, Loosey and the Mundy Gap climb but he forgot to mention we climbed up and over the northern end of the Franklin Mts. I thought we would stay on the foothills and just went around the mountain. I was told at the 2nd feed station it was time to get the lungs and legs ready for some more climing. I didn’t feel bad walking this one. 90% of it was, in my eyes, unridable!!
By this point Mike was long gone and I was ready to finish this piece of the puzzle. Finally making it back I see Mike had finished. Way to go Mike. I was exhausted when I head to the timing table. That’s when I found out I had missed the 2:15 cutoff time to finish the last piece of the Puzzler. Was I happy, not really. Was I glad, Sort of.
We talked about the ride on the way home. Thats when I found out the 3rd piece of the puzzle was more climbing and sections more technical that what I had already ridden. We came to the conclusion it was a beautiful trail that reminded us of several other trails combined.
After all was said in done Mike finished in 8th place in the 40-49 age group and I had another great ride!!!
Big Thanks to Debbie and Jenn for coming out, cheering us on and driving us home.