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Recap of the Bear Growl Century Ride 2017

This August, the Dashing Family did the Running with the Bears Race. Again. As usual, it was great. Really, the only bad thing was that dogs had to be muzzled when at the start/finish area and during the luau.  It was a bit annoying, but understandable in this sue happy society.

The whole family ran again this year, but only the Dashing Wife did the half marathon with the Dashing boy dog. The rest of us did the 10k.

Family photo at Running with the Bears

Family photo at Running with the Bears

I pushed the Dashing Daughter’s stroller the last 3k and she ran in the last bit to the finish with me.

My finish at the 10k with the Dashing Daughter and Dashing Dog

My finish at the 10k with the Dashing Daughter and Dashing Dog

Dashing Daughter also ran in with her mom.

Dashing Wife coming in to finish her half marathon with Dashing Daughter by her side

Dashing Wife coming in to finish her half marathon with Dashing Daughter by her side

The Dashing Son ran the 10k only a little slower than last year, which was impressive as he did zero training.  But the next day he was walking like he had run a marathon.

Dashing Son finishing his 10k

Dashing Son finishing his 10k

The Dashing Dog now has the fastest canine time in all three distances there. Just look at how proud she is (the Dashing Daughter is “helping”).

Showing off our medals at Running with the Bears

Showing off our medals at Running with the Bears

But that isn’t what this post is about, this is about the Bear Growl Century Ride, also put on by Mountain Circle. This bike ride is available in six distances: three for pavement (33, 68, and 101 miles) and three for gravel (39, 58, and 97 miles). I thought about doing the 101 mile ride, but since I hadn’t ridden more than 100 miles in 18 months total before July, nor had I ever ridden more than 40 miles in a day, that was probably a bad idea. So I settled on the 68 mile ride. I don’t know if I will do the 101 mile course of the Bear Growl Century Ride next year, because that course not only has more mileage on the busy road and a nasty, nasty hill at mile 68.

To get ready for this ride, I did some bike training, including some hills because it was a hilly course. Stupid me did a 53 mile hilly training ride the week before the race, plus 11 miles on trail and a 6k cross country race the next day. I would pay for that later.

On race day, I drove up to Taylorsville from my parents’ ranch, about 2 hours away, and arrived at 6:15 am. The temperature on my car read 29 degrees. After months of 100 degree weather, I was not prepared. I had on three layers on my torso, gloves over my bike gloves, a beanie under my helmet, a buff for my face, but only bike shorts and calf sleeves for my legs. I normal bike shoes and normal socks. My feet were going to be cold.

I spoke with several of the riders, and having never done an organized bike ride before, I didn’t realize I was on my own to start. So at 7:08, I set off from the Taylorsville Campground. It was light out, but the sun had not peaked over the hills, so it was quite cold. My fingers and toes went numb quite quickly.

For those of you who have done the marathon course at Running with the Bears, the first 6 miles (and miles 48-54) are the out and back to Genesee part of the marathon. You know, the extra pretty part. It was a steady climb for the first 11 miles, and this was when I realized that my legs were still worn out from the previous weekend’s workout. The climbs were tougher than they should be and even the flats were difficult. But, as the sun peaked out over the hills, the frosty fields were quite pretty.

A frost covered field about 7 miles into the ride

A frost covered field about 7 miles into the ride

As were the frosty trees.

The sun shining on the frost covered trees.

The sun shining on the frost covered trees.

Around this time, I grabbed my water bottle, and ice had developed on it. Plus my Clif shots had frozen solid. I threw a couple of those in my mouth and let them warm up before I started chewing.

At mile 11 is where the big climb started. It was 2 miles long and it was about a 500 foot climb. I was quite happy that I had a triple chain ring in the front, because it made the climb that much easier. There were a couple short downhills that made things easier.

However, I hated every downhill on the way out. While, I enjoyed the respite from the climb, I knew that every downhill I did, I was going to have to climb later. The other thing that I found interesting was that at mile 13, near the top of the big hill, I saw my first car since I left the campground.   Now, there was still a bunch of climbing after the big hill, but it wasn’t that bad.

It was27 degrees at the start, but a balmy 35 about an hour in.

It was 27 degrees at the start, but a balmy 35 about an hour in.

I made it to the first aid station at mile 17, I checked in, but I didn’t take any food, because I was pretty sure everything was frozen.

I kept climbing up the hills (small hills thankfully). Antelope Lake first came into view around mile 21, and it was a pretty lake.

Antelope Lake at mile 22 of the ride, and nearly the top of the hill.

Antelope Lake at mile 22 of the ride, and nearly the top of the hill.

About mile 23, I was at the mostly done with climbing and hit the second aid station. I didn’t even get off my bike, but I also saw my first other biker. This guy was doing the 98 mile gravel ride. He was super fast on his mountain bike. I couldn’t keep up with him. There was also cattle on the roadway.

There were cattle on the road, and that's no bull

There were cattle on the road, and that’s no bull (its a girl cow).

The ride around the lake was amazing. It was quite nice, totally worth the cold ride up the hill.

Almost all the way around Antelope Lake, such a nice ride.

Almost all the way around Antelope Lake, such a nice ride.

Once the lake loop was done, it was time to go back down the hill. 33 miles were complete, and now I had 21 miles to go downhill. But, my hip was really starting to hurt. I flew down the hills, with some climbing of little hills, which I hated. I hit the first aid station again and had to get off the bike to stretch my hip. I walked around a little bit, stretched, grabbed some grapes, and continued to barrel down the hill. I hit 40 mph at one point, and averaged 32 miles over a 2 mile stretch.

As I was barreling down the hill, I saw somebody climbing the hill, and if looks could kill, I would have exploded into a million pieces. We had a combined speed of 42 miles an hour, but I was doing 36, and she was doing 6. I would have been pissed off too.

The flat-ish section between mile 43 and 54 was slower than I think it should have been. But I was tired and my hip was hurting. I was seriously questioning whether or not I should do the final 14 mile loop. I made it to the campground at mile 54 in about 4 hours. I dropped my gloves and beanie off at my car. I realized that beer wouldn’t show up until noon, in about an hour, so I figured I might as well bike for another 14 miles.

I biked to the Taylorsville Market where lunch was ready. I knew better than eating real food, but they had watermelon. I hate watermelon, unless I am exercising. At that point, I love watermelon. So, I had a watermelon, and continued on. The next 7 miles was the worst of the whole ride because I actually had cars coming up behind me, and there was no shoulder. I had more cars pass me between miles 56 and 59 than I did between miles 0 and 54.

After the 7 miles since leaving the last aid station, I turned on a small side road that had much less traffic.  There was only 7 miles to go. Counting down how much longer I was going to be riding became my mantra, “only xxx to go”.  I made the last turn, and was back on the marathon course. I passed by mile 7 and the bridge, and had less than 2 miles to go. I just kept pushing to the end and finished 68 miles done with 4,000 feet of climbing (and descent) in under 5 hours.

I changed into street clothes, loaded my bike in the car, and drove to the Taylorsville Market and had some tacos. I had chicken tacos with black beans and pineapple, and I bought a beer. Those tacos were amazing.

Chicken and pineapple tacos were great at the end of 68 miles.

Chicken and pineapple tacos were great at the end of 68 miles.

After I had tacos, I drove home three hours to see my wife and kids.

The ride was really nice, I didn’t see hardly any people for 4 hours and 54 miles. It was quite peaceful. Next year, I hope to be better trained and not over exert myself the weekend before.

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