We didn't leave STL till about 8:30 Thursday night. I insisted that my copilot catch some ZZZZ's for awhile in the back of the van while I cover some ground. With no twisting of arms he gladly accepted and passed out. Middle of the night I get the sleepys and we trade. As long as you trust yer driver there is no other way to travel to a race. A little out from Wall Drug we stop for gas. We see a dino and make good use of it.
Hit the road and make one last crucial stop for donuts at Wall Drug. For those that don't know Wall Drug has some of the best tasting donuts. The variety is slim, and the price is about $.50 more than I usually like to pay, but the flavor is well worth it. As because of volume of customers the donuts are always hella fresh and warm. A must for any donut connoisseur. I also made use of the penny smasher with a Mt Rushmore and Badlands smash.
Back on the road and then back off the road we get to Sturgis. We drive first to the Knuckle Saloon that is hosting packet pick up and rider meeting. Dudes, so as a side note, this place is a monolith biker saloon. The place is huge and ready for wild. With the hopes that packets just maybe ready for pickup we go inside and take a looksee. To our dismay there is nothing, nadda. The dood at the bar says not till 4pm, ugh. We leave and go hunt for the city park. We have trouble finding the city park due to dumb GOOGLE and have to ask for directions. Good deal this motorbike meca is hella small. We drive across town and boom there it is. Get a idea what the finish will be like and where the early morn shuttle service will be. We now commence to go for a pedal. We park over at Ft Meade and get kitted up and hit the trail "for a soft pedal" I tell Zoll. Within a mile of mashing up some rooty rocky punchy climbs I hear "Soft pedal, huh?" I guess the terrain was already foreshadowing a difficulty level of "difficult" for the next day. We hop on some gravel and then hop back on the last portion of single track that will end the race, and then back to the van.
Now keep in mind our first plan was to get to town early. Take care of business i.e. packets, pre-ride, and dinner all early so we could get to sleep then hella early. Knowing that we had to be at the shuttle to Mt Rushmore at 5am Sat morn. So far we are getting a wrench in the gears, so moving on.
We look at the clock and we still have a bunch of hours to kill. Plus we had a time change so we gain a hour. Damn. We also knew there was a free pasta dinner that we wanted to hold out for but hell we are active doods. We want food! We go back to the Knuckle and check to see if packets are ready? Nope, so we leave to search for food.
Now when I go outta town to a race, its not that I don't want to give the hosting venue/sponsor of the race my business, but I like to know what my options are. Plus in my experience at biker bars the staff sometimes I feel has this air of entitlement which turns me off. And we wanted pizza. Now the Knuckle has 'za, but in both of Zoll and I's experience you can't always expect the best from a biker bar that sells alot of bar food to have good 'za. So we search out our options for pie in Sturgis figuring we have time to kill. As we wander we look through some t-shirts on a sidewalk rack. I pull out a great 2014 Biker week purple tee that has a freakin rad 80s skatepunk vibe to it, but with motorcycle shit on it. I never get souvenirs, cuz i'm always to cheap, but the shirt was $5 so decide to splurge. Moments later Zoll exclaims that I truly did get the best shirt on the rack, and in the city. So I then felt good about my purchase. Back on the hunt for food we come to the conclusion that we are just freaking starving and that we might as well just go back to the Knuckle and try their 'za.
Back to the saloon and we sit down. Prompt service is given to us by cute Kimber. We order our veggie pie and easily get talked into a beer. Oh, the Knuckle is also a brewery. Outta the stout, so I get their porter, thank you. Pie arrives and we scarf it down. Dang that was good! Shoulda just come here in the first place. We are asked if we want another beer? Sure! Hmm, the Knuckle ain't too bad, and through the whole night there was no feeling of entitlement. Good to know!
Time is now packet pickup time. Are they ready? Nope! So we chill for longer, as Todd one of the promoters helps get the girls ready for check in. As we wait, another beer is purchased from cute Kimber. She says "I thought you guys had a race tomorrow?" Uh yeah we do Kimber, but things are taking some time out there buddy. It all really reminded me of back when I was playing in bands. The more time we had to kill before our set the more we would drink. In this case it was bringing back pre show anxiety so I reverted back to old habits. Not always good, but in the end it didn't affect anything.
Finally we get packets, and 30 min later pasta dinner is served. Some cover band was playing and in my early stages of inhibition I talk shit on them covering the song "Breakfast at Tiffiny's" one of the worst 90's songs of all time. Finally around 6 or maybe it was 7(forgot to mention our clocks were all mest up from the time change, so on hindsite time became questionable) the racer meeting gets started. Doods, don't you know we have to get up ass early to be at the shuttle?!?!?! At some point a fourth beer is actually relieved from our lovely barmaid and consumed. This is usually out of character for pre race hydration, but I couldn't stop. Meeting ends and we go looking for a place to stealth camp.
Seems like it was 10pm by the time we got all situated at Hog Heaven Campground, and 10:30 by the time we actually laid down. That gave us approximately 6 hrs of sleep if all goes well. Keep in mind our phones were both all screwy(don't ask) so being late to the shuttle was a non option. I set my alarm way early to avoid a oversleep which gave me 5hrs of slumberness.
Beep beep beep beep beep beep, hit snooze. And phone battery dies.
Get up a hour later after doing the time math and looking out to see if any other Tatanka riders were getting up. They are. Hit the bathroom and actually have a pre race hot shower. Now this is livin' man. Get back to camp and pack up and head to the city park for shuttle service to Mt Rushmore.
City park I see the originaly gangstar Ernesto Marenchin and his wife Jenny. We get a early morning twilight photo of two crazy bearded guys. Its awesome and then we get on the shuttle buses to head to the start.
I don't mind bus rides but early morning bus rides are the pits for me. So about 45mins into the 1hr ride to Mt Rushmore both my bladder and my colon start screaming at me. Its not good cuz when I have to go I have to go. By some stroke of luck I'm actually able to get the goods to stay inside until the we were able to get off the bus. Oh, and I think the driver knew this, cuz he kept driving real slow and when we got to the park he tried to pull through the car and small truck archway when there was another archway to the very right that clearly read "Buses/RVs". What a jerk.
Off load the bus, and offload the colon. Just the way I like it.
|We started here!|
So I did not make the hole shot. I kinda wasn't expecting to, but just wanted to stay up front for as long as possible. I had one major thing shutting me down, and I knew it and could feel it. Elevation.
I'm from St Louis,MO which is at about 550ft elev. The start of the race leaving the monument is at 5,600ft elev. Anybody got any extra red blood cells they can hook a brother up with, didn't think so. I get swallowed up by the pack just before the single track. We descend a slightly tech down hill and get out into some flat with a shallow up and back into tech trail. I know the elev is giving me gut punches cuz I'm watching the lead group walk away from me and there was nothing I could do. I actually had the exact same thing happen at True Grit in March when me and all the SSers road off the front and then I seemingly went backwards as I watched them effortlessly ride away from me, Uhg again.
Now into a 7 mile climb(you mean hike a bike?). This thing was the kinda a climb that was 50% mash 50% push yer freakin bike. This climb was also the widow maker of the race. The Soul crusher, forcing many a weak rider to throw in the towel. Me? I knew it was just par for the course. So now having my elev handicap dictate my race I decided upon the game plan of "Slow is Fast". I cut the engines and put everything on cruise control. Gladly hoofing my bike and keeping the heart rate low low low, or low relatively speaking considering I was still blown outta my gourd from the start!
A good chunk of SSers and Geared riders passed me including the infamous Rogo-a-Gogo. I jumped on his wheel and rode with him all the way to the first aid station. At one point during the long tech back side descent of the 7mile climb I see Rogo do something funny? A moment later I do the same. Later I told him I saw what he did and when I hit the tech rocky drop that I did the same. We had both puckered our ass holes. At the first aid he stopped to refuel. I boogie on and hit a gnar road down hill that gave me the much needed recovery to tackle the upcoming slow grind of double track into praire land.
Grind grind grind.
So one thing I haven't mentioned yet is that of all of the NUE races Dwayne and I always considered Tatanka to be one of our friend AJ Linnel's races. He always smashed it and in tribute to him I wanted to smash it too. Also, in previous post I've made no reservations in talking about how I felt AJ was riding with me in spirit. Well for Tatanka 100 I made for damn sure I was going to ride in AJ spirit. I also called upon him for strength, safety and guidance. Whether it was that extra drive to keep pushing my bike when I wanted to stop for a second or looking up just as I was about to overshoot a turn. Either way I don't think, but know he was out there with me doing what he could. In a strange way, I kind of wonder if he was the one giving me the push to go do Tatanka in the first place. This last thing that really made me wonder, and will probably make everybody think I'm just going cookoo is that in that prairie portion of the Centennial Trail I swear to god I saw a apparition of AJ cruisin' on his bike 20 ft in ahead. He turned around at me riding one handed and nodded his head forward as in saying "Come on Peat, lets go shred!", and then smiled. I pretty much shredded both the trail and my body the whole rest of the race constantly going from 100% bonk out to 100% power. Never had I had that much clash between ups and downs.
Ok, so I'm now going into Soul crush mode. Rogo catches up and we roll for a while together. Its fun. We then spot a SSer. I've tried to keep tabs on who is in front of me and gather its this doood and then Tyler who is on a Ti Kona in front of him. He is off on the side of the double track and I give a dig to get up and around him as he is getting back on and starting to pedal. I ask if there is a dood on a Ti ss frame up ahead and says "yeah, about 2 minutes up." Well, a 2min gap ahead if both riders are pretty equally fit can take awhile to close. I think it was like about 45mins before I finally caught Tyler on one of the many brutal four wheeling trails, but will get to that in a min. Rogo and I walk away from this dude as he seemed already in the pain cave sum 25 miles into the race.
We roll into aid 2 and Rogo makes short use of, and hi tails it. I had been battling a noisy chain and knew lube was the ticket. This race along with crazy amounts of rocks and gnar, also had abunch of mud holes and water crossings. So just like a sex fiend in a frenzie, my modo is always lube often, lube plenty. To prevent drivetrain failure of course. I jet in hopes of catching back on to Rogo, but never see him again. Its ok, we're friends.
Finally about 40/50 miles in I make contact with Tyler Huber. For some reason ever since Ouchita Challenge I've been doing this thing where as soon as I confirm a visual on a target I go into chill mode, recover, and then attack. I always expect to hang back for longer than what I actually do and then am all of a sudden on my preys ass like flies on shit. It was a bunch of technical 4x4 trails that encouraged much hike a bike and little pedaling when I caught him. I was blown up, but he more so. I tried to make simple conversation, and mentioned how I was happy I chose to ride the rigid fork over ol' reba. He really thought I was just being silly, until I mentioned how rad it was with all the bike pushing. We then get to a point were we remount and pedal. I ask how he's doin and says how he's hurtin. I tell 'em "don't blow up to much. you got some fast doods that maybe coming up behind ya." and mention Ernie and to watch out. I found out later that Ernie did infact catch Tyler and was then in 3rd, but unfortunately made a wrong turn going off course and ended up still holding onto 4th.
Just as I said though, I was stoked I used the rigid fork. Because as soon as we were back on our bikes I just walked away from Tyler and never saw him til the finish line. Sorry com padre, nothing personal.
From here on I spent the remainder of the race riding with myself. I was rather ok with it. At one moment when I got to one of the tallest most scenic vistas I took a moment to just enjoy the view. After all, life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around you could miss it. I also wanted to chat with AJ. To tell him I knew he was out there and thanks for hangin with me and being a rad dude. After, making this my last designated breather, it was time to hi tail it to the finish.
The remaining 20 miles was some of the most trying miles I've put myself thru in a long while. I was now going into deth march mode, but for some reason was able to find that magic mental over ride that so many endurance athletes search for. My muscles have been cramping out alot lately so that was becoming a stark reality at this point of the race. I still have a pain in my right calf from this stage of Tatanka where my cramping calf locked up when I was throwing my leg over my bike to remount. I had to stand there with my foot pointing down and force my toes on the ground until my heel hit unlocking my calf muscle. It was bad, and that one step away from destruction. I also kept getting crazy highs and lows of power, kinda like when yer car is runnin out a gas or the filter is clogged. You go for a little bit, but then no power. Get some gas, and then stall. Just like that. On hindsite, my mind is still blown I made it through the race like I did.
So here's another slightly aggravating thing. At aid 3 one of the volunteers told me I was 1st SS. Also, I had not seen any others at the start, or during the race so I believed this as truth. Then just as I was about 1.5 miles from aid 4 a older geared rider pulled up on me just before the first of the gnar river crossings. He got in front of me and as I rode his wheel I asked if he saw any SSers behind that may be gaining? He responded with a "NO", "but there is a guy on a black ss up ahead" and that he had been in the top 5 and thats how he knew this. I wasn't sure who that could be, but then was reassured that he was crazy when I was exiting the woods and Ryan O'Dell the NUE series promoter was standing there saying I was 1st SS. Ooops! Honest mistake I know, no harm no foul.
I make quick work of the aid station and boogie on out. 12 miles to go, this is less than my bike commute to work. Doesn't mean that it was easy. I continue to drive thru the cramps, bonks, blow ups, physical shut down. All in all I was really beginning to crack up, and all I could do is fly in low and tell my self to just keep pedaling or pushing no matter how slow, but just keep moving and don't stop "muther fucker". Yeah I curse to myself alot during a race.
The course then gets to just a scorching down hill, now my only thought is ride safe don't wreck.The trail then gets back into winding flowing single track where I get my last wind and really somehow shred my ass off. Thinking how are my arms still holding me up after all the pummeling I have put 'em thru. The shred fest continues and I roll with it, finding body english I didn't know I had and mental awareness that I thought was long gone. Funny how the end of a race gives you that last umf of strength.
So now I'm like 5 miles out. Sturgis is actually sometimes in view, but I have some good punchy climbs left along with some grinder with in a field section. Just as I was exiting the woods there was this crazzzzzy long fast field descent that was super mellow. I swore that it was AJ's last push cuz I wasn't pedaling and still holding well over 20mph on this prairie single track, but later was confirmed that everybody had the same experience.
Under the Highway 90 bridge I go and into the grinder field section. I'm like 3.5miles out and the course is directed off of the Centennial trail and onto a connecter trail of sorts and up hill to boot. At the turn there was a saw horse with arrows and signage saying to go left so I go left. About a 1/4 of the way up before the hill crests, the same "crazy" old doood that said there was one SSer ahead of me, come ripping down the trail. He is slowing and saying something about "I don't know why they took us off 89?" 89 is the same as Centennial Trail. This is the funny part and sometimes sad part of ultra endurance racing. So he is almost to a stop as he is coming towards me and catches a deep rut off to my right. He then at a dead stop topples over rolling in front of me due to not being able to unclip. Yes, I watched this doood fall over. I just kept moving and rode around him asking if he was ok. He said "I'm fine" so I didn't stop. Haha. I'm still chuckling at it now just because of how wrecked he was and how I felt and how bad of a deth march I was pushing thru also, plus how he was totally paranoid that he made a wrong turn and lost abunch of time and over all placing because he didn't trust his own judgement. Thats what happens tho in these races. The mind gets funny.
He eventually fades from view and I get on to familiar trail that Zoll and I rode yesterday. I get out to Ft Meade which is within a mile of the finish. I get on the bike path and immediately start getting vicious cramps from my hips down. Almost to the point that it was shutting me down. The only thing I could do was push through and breath deep. I looked at my bike computer and made sure to hold 14mph til the entrance of the stadium. That may not seem fast, but keep in mind I'm on a SS and on flat ground and not even fighting off the cramps anymore, but just hoping that the shear act of leg movement keeps the lock ups from taking hold.
I pull into the fencing and and have only about 50 yards left. One last solid push and I get through the finish line. I can barely even get to a shady spot to lay down, my legs are wrecked and about to give out on me. I find a spot and pull everything out of my pockets and lay down. I was done tho. I deed it! I couldn't move, but mission was accomplished. I was still unsure if I was 1st or 2nd SS, but it kind of didn't matter. My goal leaving STL was to secure a 2nd and icing on the cake would have been a numero uno. Victory was mine. Now at this moment I wasn't thinking any of this. I was more like "holy shit man" "whudge u do?" To say I was thoroughly wrecked would be a understatement. I was wasted pile of flesh laying on the ground as little kiddos rode their bikes around me. Tatanka 100 wasn't a true hundo, but sometimes if your finishing time and your body feels like you rode a hundo off road than thats all that matters.
I later found out that I was 2nd SS with a time of 8:37, and 9th overall. My time was right in the middle of my predicted finish time of 8:30-45 so that was my realistic goal achieved. Also, Richie Trent who was 1st SS came in at 8:01 which is totally rad. Tyler Huber came in about 13mins after me in 8:50 and secured 3rd. Ernesto, as mentioned earlier, had made a wrong turn after passing Tyler with in the last 12 miles. He still clung to 4th even though he had the miss fortune of the wrong turn and he got heat exhaustion and had a moment of puking. Damn, but nice f-ing work Ernie!
I also found out later that I had the stiffest of ss gears out there on course. I was rockin 38/22, which I didn't think was that bad considering how spun out I was at Lumberjack. On hindsight, I guess it was a big gear for Tatanka. With playing the What If? game, what would have happened with my power and a easier gear? Could I have closed that 36 min gap on Richie? Probably not. I think a lack of red blood cells was the deciding factor on that so really my gear was probably perfect.
While I was laying in the grass Rogo was able to walk over to me(like a zombie I might add) and we shared accolades. I later found out that when he went back to his motel room to change out and get his meal ticket, he was still cramping out so bad that he couldn't get his socks off, haha. Dude, I've been there before and thats why I laugh. Rogo also put 10 min on me from the moment we parted ways at aid 2. Nice work dude!
Zoll finally rolled in at 11:29 minutes, about 2hr 47min after me. If I thought I was shelled, he took the cake. But in classic Zoll fashion within minutes of his finish his name was called for the raffle and went up and won a brand new Lauf carbon fork.
In the end the race ended up being a major soul crusher in the best of ways. Putting many people who have dabble in the NUE series in over their head, and then just straight out pushing experienced riders past their threshold and showing them their new found limits. I give Tatanka 100 a bad ass race award and totally recommend it if you think yer tuff enuf to "Ride the Bull". With the rigid fork and trusty Ergon bar ends I truly felt like I was "Riding the Bull'' the whole day just barely holding on. The 2nd place mug was rad, but a little bit of payout would have been cool too. After all it specifically said 4-10 riders per category, payout 1 deep. And, SS only had 9 in the category so I can't complain. Just saying $50 woulda been nice too, but ain't no thang in the long run.
That being said I want to give a special shout out to a few folk that actually made this happen for me.
-Zoll for making the last minute decision to race and drive to Sturgis with me . Plus 2 nights of 'za!
-Christine, my sister Sue, and Super Kate for all chipping in just a little bit to get me to and from Tatanka. And Christine thanks for all the snacks. They came in handy! In my belly.
Thanks ladies and gents. It means more than you know. Also, thanks for trusting in me to go out and crush yet another race. Much love to all of ya's.
Lastly, I have some more photos that should be rollin in soon just to give some more eye candy.