Ready for Charon’s Obol.
Charon’s obol: Payment for the ferryman who takes the unfortunate deceased across the River Styx to the underworld. Perhaps the next few hundred idioms will shed some light on what I mean.
My entry into the 2012 Crusher in the Tushar is official, and I’m almost already regretting my decision. Almost. Let’s rewind.
Last year I may have raced it…and by “raced”, I mean I fell off the pace of what semblance of a break there was, and contemplated suicide while finishing the last 1.5 hours solo. On paper, the Crusher looks like a modicum of sanity. 10.5k feet of climbing over 70 miles. In my mind, circa June 2011, this said “Hard ride, but not insane”. Of course, then I was subjected to promoter, former US road pro, and all around cycling sado-masochist Burke Swindlehurst ‘s idea of “fun”. I lacked the immediate foresight that climbing almost 11,000 vertical feet nearly entirely on loose, rocky, bumpy excuses for dirt roads on a cyclocross bike (while chasing a ProTour racer and a domestic climbing phenom) would be a akin to being kicked in the groin by Pele for 4.5 hours solid.
The Crusher is not road racing. The Crusher is not mountain bike racing. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. The Crusher is pain racing.
They say time heals all wounds. Or, at the very least, I’ve mostly forgotten mine. So, with little else to live for on July 14th, I signed on for another trip to hell and back. Plus, I like Burke, even after damning his name for approximately three days after the race, and the post-ride food at Eagle Point Ski Resort was as epic as the hamburger my taint had been transformed into by the journey. Not only that, but Crusher is probably the best-run race I’ve ever attended. The small burg of Beaver (yeah, really) goes all-out for the event – I’m pretty sure Burke conned the entire town into manning the race buffet stations. Not aid stations. Buffet stations. You know that point in a ride when you’re out of food, bonked, and are deliriously dreaming of a gigantic table with a plethora of deliciousness around the next bend? That’s what these are. This year, I’m going to try to convince the Open/Pro category to make mandatory five minute stops at each one so we can actually sample the offerings instead of just crying into our bartape as we ride past, haplessly grinding our undercarriages into oblivion. With that, I wish the other 349ish lemmings who’ve been similarly mesmerized by Burke’s siren song well-wishes as they ride themselves into the metaphysical abyss of his twisted vision of joy.
Given the recent folly of volunteering for self-flagellation, it seemed prudent to get some time on dirt in an unorthodox fashion on yesterday’s ride. 160k with 20k of dirt, a Dogma 2, cattleguards that could swallow a Yaris, 23mm Vittoria Rubinos, a straight-down switchback-riddled descent with 6-inch deep moondust turns, and part of the Tour of Utah’s North Ogden Divide stage? Sign me up. (Sidenote: CLICK to see the above image of the Avon Pass saddle in not-tiny-as-mandated-by-our-WordPress-theme glory).
This was my second adventure in the dust with the Rubinos , and even in the relatively narrow 23mm width, I was pleasantly surprised at their competence in conditions they were never designed for. I was prepared – even expecting – to puncture multiple times (it’s a rare day when I carry three spare tubes), but even after slamming them into rocks that would slash a lot of mountain bike rubber, they held their own.
Utah sucks, especially in the summer. Don’t listen to the travel brochures. The riding is awful, the mountains aren’t pretty, and the food is terrible.
Gloves, forgotten. Delicate roadie palms, thrashed by endless vibration. Lesson? Learned.