2016 Fossil 50 Challenge – Single Speed

Fossil 50 Challenge

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Glen Rose, Texas

The FOSSIL 50 Challenge is 34 miles of single track with roughly 16 miles of paved country roads mixed in.  The course covers two trails; Dinosaur Valley State Park and Solavaca Ranch.

Below is a snapshot of my Stava of this event.  The green dot is the start and the checkered dot is the finish.  We had the racers’ meeting at the finish and then rode across the river to the start.  From there we went past check point one and up the hill, clockwise through the Dino Valley course which eventually brought us back to check point one again.

I was feeling great this first lap.  The hills seemed easy but a lot of guys were crashing, falling over, or slipping out.  Luckily, I had none of those problems this first lap so I got ahead of the field and even passed a few geared riders. I’m going to give this credit to the new wide (31mm internal) wheels and 21 pounds of pressure in both tires.

There were several long muddy sections that were a bit sketchy to navigate but each was soon followed up by a refreshing river crossing which left me cool and clean once again.  Also, the trail was not closed to the public so there was a spattering of hikers on trail. They were all very pleasant, respectful, and some even cheered the riders on.  Except that huge rattlesnake… he was not happy and wanted nothing to do with us!

My gear of choice was 32/18 (suggested by Mr. Matt Malone).  This was a smart choice due to all the road which began around 12.2 miles from the start where lap one of the Dino Valley single-track ended.

There was roughly 5.5 miles of paved country road from Dino Valley until the start of Solavaca.  For some reason, I remember thinking it was about two miles so this bit of road seemed to go on forever. Check point #2 was at the entrance to Solavaca and according to Bryan Fawley yelling at me, I was wasting a lot of time messing around with water and my drop bag.  I distinctly remember Bryan telling us to “make sure you fuel up” for the second lap but I wasn’t aware we were going to pass each check point twice.  There was a bit of confusion by many riders about this at the start so next year we will plan better.

Solavaca is a great trail with a good mixture of beginner and intermediate sections, a good mixture of in the trees and out in the fields, and one monster climb called, “Cula de Gato” which I believe means “The cat’s butt”.  For this race, my plan was to play it smart and not attempt to be “macho”.  Therefore, I walked pretty much all of the “leg killing” climbs as I knew I would need my legs later.

I came back out of Solavaca 26.3 miles into the race and stopped briefly while Ford (Mike Frazier’s son) filled up my bottle and made sure I was good to go. Della Bird also reminded me to grab some food from the aid station so I grabbed a fat boy honey bun and headed back out onto the road. Most of the road miles I was feeling nauseated. I’m not sure why but it could’ve been that random honey bun jacking with my system. 

Eleven more brutal miles of road until I finally tied back into Dino Valley at check point #1 again. I stopped for about 15 seconds just to top off my water and then hung a left and started back up the hill again for lap 2.

The nausea subsided partly once I got back onto some dirt so that was great.  However, around mile 41 I started to cramp badly in my hips and legs.  This caused me to panic as I was told that I was in first place for Single Speed but I knew there were around 8.5 more miles of tough trail ahead.

I had not seen anyone for quite a while and figured I had a few minutes to spare so I decided to stop and pee and let my body just chill for 30 seconds.  Right after that, I could hear another ride coming so I took off again but the cramps would not go away.  I stopped at the top of a short technical climb and the rider behind me passed me on my right, passed me, and cheered me on.  It was right about then that I saw her bike was missing a derailleur.  That’s right, she was a single speeder!  She was upbeat and riding very well.  I needed that motivation.  I wanted to be first overall not just the first guy. Getting beat by a woman is totally fine as I know there are probably thousands of women out there who are faster than I but this fueled me up for some reason.

So I followed her as best I could and we chatted the entire way.  Her name was Samantha “Sam” Welter, and she drove down from Missouri with her boyfriend who owns Route 66 Bicycles just for this race.  I’m not sure exactly what chemicals my body decided to produce when Sam passed around me, probably Adrenalin, but whatever it was, it kept me going all the way to the end.  Right after we passed check point #2 again, Sam was a good 100 yards in front of me and I knew I had to leave everything I had on the trail right there and just push through the pain and cramps. Bryan Fawley yelling at me to finish strong also helped.

Just before we crossed the river I caught up to her and could hear all the cheering from the masses at the river. That audible excitement fueled me just enough to get me across the river and up the sandy hill to the road.  I had the feeling Sam would come flying past me any second but I think she decided just to let me go as I wasn’t in her category anyway.

Sam kept me from bonking and walking out the trail for the last 8 miles.  I’m truly grateful for that and that is exactly the spirit of the entire mountain biking community.

And no, come to find out, I was not in first place.  Apparently, there was some badass named James Sanchez who finished way before I did (by 45 minutes) so kudos to him!  I still had a blast, did my best, stayed positive, and finished strong.  Win win!

Mike Frazier came in shortly after I and so there were two Big Pigs on the SS podium. It’s always a great day to be a Big Pig!