Nothing says hard man (or totally bat crazy) like a solo attempt at an endurance mountain bike race. And nothing says full-on commitment like riding the whole damn thing without stopping. This is what our boy, Greg Foster, did two weekends ago at Dawn til Dusk in Gallup, NM. 12hours worth of solo mountain biking on a course that saw 1600ft of climbing per 13-mile lap. And not just solo. But singlespeed. That’s right. One f-ing gear.
Greg set out with the goal of riding 10laps, which in past years (when the race was not shortened due to weather) would be good enough for a win.
Division: Solo Singlespeed Male
Place Name Laps Total 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 Winner 9 10:41:00 0:46 1:01 1:06 1:13 1:10 1:19 1:20 1:19 1:23
2 Greg Foster 9 10:44:00 0:48 1:04 1:06 1:06 1:12 1:13 1:21 1:28 1:21
So, perhaps I’ve given the plot away already, but what a closer look at the results reveals is an extremely tight race for the top step of the podium. Look closely and you’ll notice the nearly equivalent lap times between Greg and the eventual winner. Look to lap 4 and you’ll see that Greg pulled out in front. Then fell behind again. Then pulled out in front again in lap 6 and held it for lap 7. The crucial lap was lap 8 when a gear change was necessary – dropping from the monster (for a 12hr race) 32×19 that Greg had been riding all day to a 32×20. As race mechanic and soigneur I take full responsibility for this lengthy change and the fact that all bolts were not sufficiently tight leading to Greg riding the last 5miles of the next lap with his rear tire rubbing against his frame. I’m afraid I’ll lose my job. Nonetheless, Greg was not to be stopped. Coming in with his 9th lap completed, with 1hour and 15minutes left to race (race started at 8am, it was currently 6:45pm with the race ending at 8pm) Greg found his nemesis had chosen not to ride a 10th lap, but had instead hung up his cleats and was resting comfortably in his campsite, essentially saying: “go ahead, you do a 10th lap, you deserve the win, I’m cracked.”
Greg summoned a last bit of energy from somewhere deep down and, with a hooray from his trusty pit crew, set off in a blaze on his 10th lap. It was inspiring to watch him ride off and up the 1000foot slickrock climb just outside the campground. Dude was turning screws. But, in our minds we knew that an hour and 15minutes to complete the lap in order for it to count was not going to be easy. His previous laps were 1:21, 1:28, and 1:21. Could he cut at least 6minutes off his previous lap after having ridden over 115 miles off-road already? At the very least he would know that he left ‘it’ all out on the trail. ‘It’ being sweat, sticky gel shots, 5figures worth of calories, and whatever inner fire drove this man.
The pit crew gradually made its way to the finish line with about 15 minutes remaining before the 8pm deadline before which Greg was required to finish for the lap to count. Complete this lap before 8pm and he would be the winner. Solo winner of the solo hard man single speed category. 7:45 came and went. It would not be an hour lap. 7:50 came and went. Not an hour 5 lap. 7:55 came. I thought this would be a reasonable time for Greg to finish. After all he’d completed 4 laps already today in well-less than an hour and 10minutes (including the shortened opening lap), so why not this one? Plus, it would be awfully considerate to his friends to not make us bite our nails in anxiety. But nope. He did not come in. 7:56. 7:57. Behind me, several teammates of a four man team cheered in joy at the sight of their 4th man rounding the final bend in front of us. “I’m going to make it!” he shouted. Jealousy and stress nearly caught me saying “4man? Really? That’s 3 hours for each of you. Please.” But I held my tongue. 7:58. 7:59. Damn. And the air siren for 8pm sounded. Greg was nowhere in sight.
I uncorked the Pint of IPA I held in my hand for him and had a swig myself. Then word came that a lone single speed rider remained out on the lap, unable to stand any longer out of the saddle due to lower back spasms, he’d abandoned. Was riding back, slowly, on the dirt road that skirted the course. Had turned down an offer of a ride back in a truck from a course marshal. He would finish, though not before 8pm, and not on the designated course. But with over 130miles ridden. Over 12hours of constant riding. And over 24minutes in front of 3rd place with only a heart wrenching 3minutes between he and 1st. But he’d gone for it. Gone for that 10th lap that would’ve meant glory. Quintessential hard man. Mustache bestowed.
-Nick (on behalf of Greg)