Ragnarök 105. The weather was perfect, and after a pre-race breakfast at Dirty Ron's, and reminding Hansen to "toss your piss," we adjourned to the starting area at Colville Park.
Over 60 riders showed up, including one guy who was getting married later that afternoon. (I imagine he only did half the course or he is already divorced...) Due to the large number of riders, we had a leadout vehicle, but once out of harm's way the pace quickened as a group of about 15 made the "selection" in an attempt to take valuable K.O.M. points on the first 8 climbs of the day. Beast-Rad started throwing 42x16 hammers almost immediately, and I took a few accelerations at the front to shake up the pelican. After bombing the first Minimum Maintenance Road descent, and cruising some fast gravel, there was some confusion at Grosse Point Road. The tulip notes, we were assured, were spot on, but there was a Dead End sign at the turn. Nearly everyone stopped, but B-Rad took the initiative and powered up Grosse Point on his own and had the second Min. Maintenance Road descent to himself, taking the K.O.M. points in the process. This descent would prove to be my undoing.
Not long after this teeth-rattler, The Hitman bridged up to me and we rode together briefly before I felt my front tire getting soft. We stopped, and as I replaced the tube, Nick rode past. I told Kevin to keep going with him. I pumped the tube and in an effort to get just a little more p.s.i. in, the valve stem tore. Dammit, guess I've got to use my second (and last) tube. Tore that valve stem, too. Shit, ok, I'll use the original tube as it wasn't completely flat when I removed it, just low. Fuck me, this one tore as well. The valve hole on the Salsa Delgado cross rim was mocking my every move. No patch kit could help me, now. About this time race promoter Jake Huot drives up and on the roof rack goes the Pacer, my day is done, and I'll take a ride to the first check point where I will spray beer on all of my comrades. But first, Chris Skogen rides up and offers me a tube. I graciously accept. And proceed to TEAR ANOTHER FUCKING VALVE STEM! I let out a stream of stevedoresque profanities and send the wheel airborne, when MacGuyver Skogen comes up with the brilliant idea to place a small patch from a patch kit over the valve hole. Knowing I'll be damned to pinch-flat purgatory by taking Chris' last tube, if he, in fact, flats out later in the race, I accept his gracious offer and inflate the sucker. It holds air, and we're off immediately up the switchback Wiesbusch climb, longest of the day. This whole ordeal has cost me at least 30 minutes, my legs are cramping from the sudden halt, and I spend the next 4 hours in no-man's land trying to pick off riders. By Zumbro Falls it's apparent that I'm not gaining on the leaders, nor will I see any of my teammates again until the finish line. So I down chocolate milk, coke, beef jerky and more Clif Shot Bloks than should be legal, fight my way past Millville, Lake City, and onto the penultimate climb back out of the Goodhue Valley up Lehrbach Road, a vertical swath of pea gravel that makes you beg for it, then deposits you onto Bush Road, becoming more residential as you grind back into Red Wing and charge to the finish at Colville Park. Even with the, uh, "technical difficulties," I managed to finish at 15:06 o'clock, just missing the 7.5 hour mark. Nick managed 9th overall & 2nd single speed. B-Rad was 11th/3rd single, and The Hitman right behind in 12th. A huge thanks to Chris Skogen for saving me from a DNF, and another excellent event by Jake, Issac, & Larry. The only thing missing was Rosenberg....