First - Thank you to MBM for the entry and thank you to all of those that helped at the race and thank you to all that gave encouragement along the way.
A little back story – I first went to try and finish Iron Cross in 2010. I had helped at CP4 for a few years and saw what the back of the pack looked like and the effort that they had spent and thought “I can do that (maybe)”. So, I planned my attempt for months based on finishing in less than 8 hours. I showed up and my number for the race was 8. I accomplished my goal of an under 8 hour Iron Cross and finished in 7:45:12. It was the hardest thing I have ever done on a bike (including this year’s race). This year I set my goal to finish Iron Cross in less than seven hours. Well, this year I showed up and my race number for Iron Cross was 7.
The race - I lined up in the middle of the pack at the start. I figured this would push me to start quicker and it did, maybe a bit too quick. I saw Dave, Brian, Bird & Ralph a few times before CP2. But as I climbed Milesburn it started to go wrong. I was cramping a little and dreadfully thought this is way too soon. Wigwam took too long to climb and I was cramping badly in the valley between Wigwam and Don’s photo spot at the next “run” up. Still, I got to CP2 in a respectable time, but I was to pay for that. I struggled on anything uphill from there until half way up Hogshead. I was way behind schedule, but somehow I managed to get into a rhythm and started to pull back some time and some riders. By the time I got to CP4, I was back in a groove and riding fairly well. I knew I had to make up time in the last section to beat seven hours. I had 1:10 left and in 2010 it took me 1:45 (in 2010 this section was about two miles longer to finish at Camp Thompson). It didn’t look good, but I could taste that seven hour mark and I managed to push through a lot of cramping to reach Larry’s Tavern at 6:51. I skipped the beer and continued after that 7 hour mark. I came screaming down 233 and went over that hump in the road in my largest gear, but I finished at 7:00:49. At first I was disappointed, but then I was immensely pleased with the big picture. I had taken 45 minutes off of my previous time!
Highlights (not mentioned above):
Bird, Brian & Ralph encouraging me to keep riding my cross bike on Lippencote while they pass me on their mountain bikes.
Brian riding so strong after all that he’s been through.
Dr. Dave passing me three times in a single lap race.
Surprising Don and Larry by getting to them much earlier than they had expected.
Being passed by people that I thought were miles ahead of me.
Passing riders after CP4 instead of being passed.
Those two slightly inebriated ladies at the finish (you know who you are).