Posted by Kelly On September - 15 - 2015 Comments Off on Epic at Dakota Five-O

By: Kelly Feagans

Note: Start line photo courtesy of Dakota Five-O …

kelly-dakota-five-oOver the Labor Day weekend, Bill Wheeler and I¬†made the drive to Spearfish, SD for the 15th annual Dakota Five-O mountain bike race. As normal, the drive up was beautiful and uneventful (in a relaxing kind of way), and no chats with the Wyoming Highway Patrol this time! ūüėČ

After arriving the Friday before race day (Sunday), we had plenty of time to unwind, get some spin time in, get checked in, etc. The town of Spearfish is a really great little town; quaint little bike shops with friendly staff, small streets with brick buildings, friendly townspeople, etc. A really great place for a bike race! Friday, we rolled a few miles on some of the surrounding rolling dirt roads to stretch our legs and give our bodies some movement after the 6 1/2 drive from Boulder CO.

Saturday, after some quality sleep and multiple cups of espresso from the Epic Jura Z5, we set out to get ourselves checked in and to ride some of the race course (at east the first bit). There’s a nice amount of schwag at this race, of which we gathered up, piled in the car, and set off on our “spin”. I mention “spin” in quotes, since Bill has this ability to force a pace (all in good fun here … I promise) that is not necessarily what is warranted 24 hours prior to race day. We set off easy, and met up with Kelly Magelky and one of his buddies just entering the singletrack area. It was good to see people we knew, and after a some laughs and a short conversation, we set off at an easy tempo. After an hour or so, we turned around, and headed back down to the car. A good pre-ride, both of us felt good for the next day’s suffer fest … I mean, race. ūüėČ

Race day started early, piling down oatmeal and fruit, loading up bottles, last minute prep to bikes, and the short drive to the start line. ¬†It ‘s really quite convenient that the Dakota Five-O start is right at City Park, pretty much in the middle of Spearfish. Plenty of parking and easy to get to. Thanks Race Staff!! They set you off in waves; The Pros, The Joes, The Bros, and The I Don’t Knows. Mountain bike racing is just that; the right amount of competition with a whole ton of fun and sarcasm. Bill and I were to start in wave two, “The Joes”. And start we did; the key to this race is, after the neutral start (about a mile or so when motorcycle pulls off), it’s full gas to the singeltrack. There’s a reason for this is; it’s massively beneficial to have good position going into the first singletrack section after the preceding 3 1/2 miles of dirt road.

Things went well for me up the first section, sans the intense pain of going full gas with little to zero warmup. Yet I figured everybody else was about to cough up a lung or two as well, so I pushed just about as hard as I could. At some point in here, Bill and I became separated, and lost contact with each other just prior to the first singletrack section. The first climbs are tough, but doable, and at this point you have excitement carrying you forwards as your heart rate is nearly reaching maximum.

The section that really hammered me this year, as the Dakota Ridge climb. Wow … that just about tore my legs off! New trail sections, off-camber turns, and gradients approaching 18% made for some difficult, and very, very slow-grind kind of climbing. Mercifully, that section didn’t last very long, and the rest of the climbing was quite manageable on the¬†SRAM 1X11 setup. Oh, and the Bacon Station towards the end of the race … that was pretty awesome! Throughout the race, the aid stations were stocked well, accompanied by awesome and incredibly helpful volunteers. Hats off to the Dakota Five-O Race Staff and Aid Station Volunteers – you guys rock!

The only faux pas I made was I blew through Aid #2 without even noticing! Oooops … and yeah, I was nearly out of water (2/3 of a 20oz bottle left) with 10 miles to go to Aid #3. A little rattled by my mistake, I bridged up to a rider in front of me, and asked “Hey, did we pass Aid #2?.” “Hell yeah we did, about 2 miles back!” Mercifully, Aid #3 wasn’t too far up the trail and there wasn’t much hard climbing between myself and what would be needed soon. I don’t think I have ever missed an Aid before; I was going relatively fast and having a good time, so I suppose I was just in the moment of the race.

dakota-five-o_post_raceThe last several miles are rolling, with quite a bit of descending. There are some really fun descents, and while none are super-technical, there are plenty of areas that are challenging that take a more than a small amount¬†of focus to stay upright. Once the singletrack ends, you are right back on the dirt road climb that you ascended at the beginning of the race. Ah, yes … road, finish of the race, downhill … and the roadie comes out in me (still a recovering roadie … lol). Slamming the 1X11 in top gear, at some crazy cadence, I picked off 8 racers on the descent and finished in a respectable time of 4hours, 48minutes. Good enough for 42 in my age cat, with smiles and a warm feeling of accomplishment.

The post race party is fun, relaxing, and full of tasty food, great beer, live music, the works. Thank you Dakota Five-O!

Strava stats:
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