Racing your kid at the Ore To Shore Mountain Bike Epic: A Dad’s Story
by Eric Olshove
Opening start of the 48 Mile Hard-Rock is 650 man, mass start. Exciting stuff as it was my first ever like this.
The countdown started from 90 seconds. When they sounded the start Ky and I immediately took off only to have a 5 riders go down hard immediately in front of us. One was a girl and hopefully OK as she was bravely wearing an arm cast. Somehow we both managed get around this one without being sucked down with them. KEEP YOUR HEADS UP, FOLKS!
The opening is a sprint on paved road for approximately 2 miles. The goal is to get as far to the front of this group as possible, BEFORE they enter the trails. After that you are only as fast as the person in front of you. Kyan found the fastest looking people we could keep up with and drafted off them until the trail started. We were moving fast enough that Ky was actually spinning out in top gear. He may be in need of a bigger front ring!
Once in the trail, we picked them off one by one. Fortunately this race has a tremendous amount of 2 track so it does allow for passing … at least until you enter your first mud pits. At that point you may require a life jacket to avoid drowning (I did not expect this in a bike race). Regardless, if you are a mountain biker you need to face the challenges same as everyone.
We sought every dry path possible but mostly there were no good paths. Ky found himself stuck in the mud over the knee and couldn’t pull his foot out. His bike was buried up to the top of his front wheel. I am certain the middle of this pit would be over his head! I heard him shout “I can’t get my leg out!”. When I saw the problem I knew I could not help, and offered only “FIGURE IT OUT!”
He did manage and even came out with his shoe fully intact but not recognizable. Neither of us thought we would be able to clip back in after this but everything continued to operate as it should – ish.
Eventually you come to grips with the fact that these pits are out there, they are real and there is no “best way” … just be the first to get through and let everyone else fight the mental battle with the beasts. I can almost say there was a point where I thought if went fast enough I may just float on top of one or 2 but it never work out that way. Go figure.
Approximate 25 miles into the course, I began to have hope that I would no longer need swim lessons. The land became more dry but the terrain was growing more rocky and more hill ala Misery Hill. This sounds like a joke but it is real and it is miserable. Again, just know it is miserable for everyone! I got off my bike and got in line like a herded sheep. Ky refused to accept this and rode off the side of the trail in an effort to pass as many walkers as possible. He got a lot of cheers but like the rest of us he was eventually brought down. Still not giving up he got off and began to run. I really didn’t think he would get far but to the amazement of us all, the youngest 48 miler in the race didn’t stop until he reached the top, mounted back up and off he went. At this point I was inspired and tried to run after him….but it didn’t work out for me so I got back line and made excuses like everyone else why I can’t run up Misery hill.
When I reached the top, I now only had one goal. Somehow I need to catch Ky again, I am certain this would be the last chance in my life to witness him race, he is getting too fast! I reached in the pocket for a handful of Shotblocks, prayed that they would do the same for me as Spinach for Popeye, off in a sprint to catch him. This turned out not so easy, it took 20 minutes just to see Orange again but hope did return when I got a glimpse … he was a long way off but eventually we were riding together again.
Next stage: the road. We exited the course for 2 lane paved road, this is where road bike training helps the most. Unfortunately, Ky has only been on a road a few times before. I rallied willing participants to do some 30 second pulls, up-wind, up-hill. This means each person takes turn pulling as leader and cutting the wind for the rest of us. When the leader has completed his 30 seconds of pain, he drops to the back of the line to rest while the others pull him through. Kyan did a great job hanging at high speed but I am officially accusing him of “abused of roadie etiquette” because did not take the lead. He claims that he was “just about to” but we were coming to the end. I think he was saving his strength to destroy is father in the end but cannot confirm this. The strategy worked because he appeared fully rested while I was sucking wind a the top. I am pretty sure god did not create enough O2 to fill my lungs but I won’t blame him since I’ll need him in the next world.
Now, back into the woods for a bit of singletrack. There is maybe 18 miles remaining at this point. I was confident that my spinach supply would run out soon. My hydration drink was nearly gone and only a few Shotblocks left in my pocket. I needed to use them sparingly. Single track is my game but I needed strength as well. I recovered OK for an old man and I finally put some distance on the boy. This was the first time all race. I now knew I had him but is seems he is a dang good singletracker himself. Soon he was back on my tail and shortly after in the lead again. We changed lead several times from here and it seems we both wanted the win.
The final approach was back in the paved streets for the final mile I’m guessing. It was fun to hear people in the crowd screaming for NORTE! I must say I did not expect this so far in the North.
Ky was back in the lead and on the tail of a pretty strong biker, I was on Ky’s tail using him to break the wind this time. Why not let youth carry the burden? The 3 of us were pulling fast but I was not going to let him or Ky beat me in this race. One final goal, I was to be alone in victory in this final 3 man race. I pulled out to make my break but Ky also pulled out at the sometime – we must have the same strategy? I could feel the wind was direct in the face and the finish line was maybe 150 yards away. I tucked back in behind Ky and abused his youth for a few more moments. Then in the last moment, I burst out to make the final pass because I know I can sprint faster? Ky did not accept my efforts graciously, in fact I think he has no respect at all! Somewhere from the depths of his 87 pounds of god-like muscle he added another level of output through the finish line.
The result of this epic battle you will have to look up for yourself but let it be known that Ky now holds the 3rd place trophy for age group 16 to 19 “48 mile hard-rock” despite just turning 15. You can find him somewhere near 3 hours and 4 minutes … I have never been more proud!
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