Jake vs. Filthy 50

Jake vs. Filthy 50

When I was asked to do a write up on the Quick and Dirty Filthy 50, I was out on a ride and pretty relaxed, so my immediate reaction was sure, why not? It seemed easy enough.

Then it dawned on me... I'm not a writer. As a photographer, I tell my stories through photos. Had I not been racing, I could have done my normal job and photographed the event and told the story without having to type a word.

An overview shot showing the venue and expo; a portrait of Victor Sheldon, the organizer; a big landscape shot of a group of racers. Then focus on some of the nitty gritty... A close up shot of a racer suffering up raptor ridge, shredding through some rocks, perhaps in a costume since it was Halloween, and a macro shot of goat heads, a happy kid, and, of course, someone enjoying a frosty cold beverage. Easy.

Recently, though, I caught the racing bug again and have been joining in on the fun of racing... leaving my camera at home. The Filthy 50 was perfect for my renewed passion for racing. It was practically in my backyard, I wasn't scheduled to work or be anywhere else, and I was pretty convinced with all the training I've done these past months, I could be a solid threat.

The Filthy 50 is meant to be a mountain bike race, but knowing the course the way I do, I had a theory that a mountain bike would not be the fastest bike (at least not for me). I should preface this by saying that I don't currently own a xc racing mtb, and the race was on Halloween with a loose expectation to dress up, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone.. race as a cyclocrosser and don my Eleil CX skinsuit on my Giant TCX with SRAM Force 1x.

Once race day came around, I was pretty confident. That's why you sign up and put the number on. I'll be the first one to tell you that I don't do well when it's cold. Actually, I crumble when it's cold. Cold for me is anything under 60. So when I went warm up and the temps were closer to 50, I was having a hard time getting warm.

It wasn't long before Phil Tintsman decided to take a flyer off the front. I immediately worked on getting his wheel. After a bit of chasing, I backed off since I didn't have the power to get to him and didn't want to stare at his awful bikini skinsuit anymore.

We had a pretty select group now and worked our way west. I spent most of the time at the front since I wanted to take my lines and we had a bit of a tailwind. That's when mistake one happened for me. On a short little uphill I opted for a different line, then decided I wanted back on my normal line. The result was me going over the bars. My first reaction was to apologize. Was pretty shocked I was laying there on my back. I got back pretty quick and took the second spot in the pack.

Then later, the lead rider made an erratic stop to go left, that caught me by surprise and I crossed his wheel, finding myself in the dirt again. I could have been angry at him, but reality is I didn't know him or his riding style, and I should have given him more room. After collecting myself back on the bike I made my way back to the front.

Once I reached the turn around point I had a little gap and was pleased since there would be traffic to dodge. The traffic situation was hairy. I couldn't go at race pace and decided to relax. That allowed Brent Prenslow to catch up to me. We did our best to keep the pace up. I was using a Timber Bell and Brent was yelling "Up! Up!" as a warning system. This worked about 50% of the time.

Luckily there were no head ons, but there were close calls and much energy expended. As we neared the dam on the return trip, I had my girlfriend there with a refresh on fluids and a Coke. Here's mistake three. I tossed both bottles and had a bobble on getting my new ones. I managed to get my Coke, but that was it. I knew it was going to be a problem, but I pressed on. We were still 30 miles out and I'd drunk the equivalent of 1/2 a bottle with temps now close to 90. That was the beginning of the end for me.

My mistakes early on pulled me away from my focus on hydration and now if I couldn't get a bunch of water or electrolytes in me quick, I was going to fade hard within 5 miles. I drank my Coke and faked it as long as I could. We had a sizable gap at this point so I kept the pressure on and asked anybody I saw if they had a bottle. No dice. Right on cue, about 5 miles later, Brent took a pull and I couldn't hang on. I pressed on hoping we had built enough of a lead that I wouldn't lose anymore spots. Once I got to the last aid station I had to stop and fill my bottle.

I was hoping the volunteers would have bottles ready, or at least cups with fluids ready so I didn't have to stop, but that wasn't the case, so I burned some time there. Once I was back on, I thought I could hold my spot but it wasn't long before Ryan Dahl caught me. I didn't even try to get his wheel. Even with fluids now the damage was done.

There was one last climb back up and over Raptor Ridge, then a pretty straight shot to the finish. I was convinced if I downed my fluids I could muscle up Raptor and keep 3rd. That was until I hit the first pitch and my legs said no. It was pretty clear I'd hit full implosion mode. I rode what I could and had to walk the steep parts. It didn't take long to have some riders catch me. By the time I'd limped to the finish I'd fallen all the way back to 8th.

Happy to be done, disappointed in making mistakes, pleased I put on the hurt for a solid portion of the race. I'll be back next year, though. Properly hydrated.


Note: Jake in the lead in his custom Eliel Cross Speedsuit. Photo credit to Phil Beckman for both photos.

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