OK, motivation was GONE for this race, the 48 mile long Dakota Five-O in Spearfish, SD. I do believe this is the latest mountain bike race I have attempted in a season, and with little riding leading up to what would be one of my longest rides of the year on any bike , I knew it would just be a struggle bus all the way to the finish. Luckily the Black Hills are gorgeous and the trails are amazing, so there would be worse places to be suffering!
Rain was predicted all weekend, so I was more concerned with how my historically leaky tent would fair. The day before the race I took to spraying waterproofing on my tent at the Spearfish KOA and staking out the rain fly the best I could, hoping I wouldn’t be soggy. I spun down to the pasta dinner and back as my warm up for the next day. So beyond the season to be doing any sort of race openers!
I started in the first wave due to that “pro thing,” though I was fair from feeling fast. The race immediately starts climbing on pavement and dirt roads out of Spearfish, and I held on ok until probably the last mile where I dropped off the back and tried to settle into a sustainable pace. I was probably one of the last five of the first wave to hit the single track. It would be a long day of people passing me, I had accepted. The rainy/foggy weather led to some amazing vibes in the forest in an eery, enchanted way, and also left us with tacky hero dirt. Luckily nothing got muddy muddy, which was nice. However, South Dakota rocks are similar to East Coast rocks, and they were slick along with the thousands of tree roots. I spent the race reminding myself of how to ride the slick roots and rocks and thanked my Pennsylvania experiences.
I won’t lie, my motivation just wasn’t there. There were so many times I found myself so lightly pedaling, just putzing along with really no concept that I was racing. It was a mental struggle, and all I wanted to do was hurry up and get the race over with, but I wasn’t pushing myself to actually pedal fast. At least I could enjoy the trails! The sun did come out for a short while, but on a fast fire road descent we went from sunshine to fog with and extreme temperature drop in an instant, and it would stay foggy and drizzly the rest of the race for me.
All I really wanted was to get to the bacon and beer station around mile 34 or so. That was a glorious moment pulling in there, and getting that horribly soggy, cold piece of bacon and half cup of PBR! I took my time enjoying my snack. Funny enough, right after the bacon station was the most technical terrain of the race. Really slick rocks on a steep descent. I surprised myself with riding stuff that I probably normally wouldn’t have. I just really wanted to get done. Dakota Five-O is one of those races where people keep saying “it’s all downhill!” and then you spend miles slogging up some ascent, swearing at the person who told you that.
The race ends with a several mile long descent down Tinton Trail, which we climbed at the beginning. It was like the never ending trail of hell. Awesome trail, but at that point I really just wanted to be done more than ever! Popping out into the road was glorious, and I took to an aero tuck and hauled ass down back to Spearfish, topping out at 40mph. Once again, with the finish in sight I managed to sprint with energy. Oh hi motivation, nice to see you after 5 hours and 36 minutes… ugh!
My goal was to come in under 6 hours, with 5.5 hours being ideal, so I’m happy with my 5:36 finishing time. Could I have done it faster? Hell yeah. But I’m satisfied with how it all went with no training and the motivation issues. I loved the trail conditions, and honestly the course was not nearly as brutal as I was expecting! Most of the race I had the attitude of “been there, done that, got the tee shirt,” but now I’m thinking I want to attempt to go next year to experience the course in the opposite direction. So we’ll see! I ended up 11th in my age group and 27th overall out of 90+ women. Not too shabby!