“Since this is my first Cup O’ Dirt submission I would like to share a little history from not so long ago. It was 2014 and my husband and a friend were training for Dirty Kanza, I had only discovered biking for about a year and was steadily improving, having finished my first century the previous fall. It was a training ride…flat, gusty wind, gravel ranging from packed dirt to loose and sloppy. I think it was about 30 miles…going on 100; I was suffering! I couldn’t believe why anyone would want to ride on such a horrible, momentum-sucking surface. I didn’t yet get it! I went to Dirty Kanza that year and was part of a support crew. The event was life-changing; I saw people at their best and their worst, people learning what their limits were! That very day I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. I started riding gravel and I haven’t stopped since. Fast forward to 2016. I finished the Land Run 50 and was still cleaning mud off of my, well, everything, while dreaming about filling the void until my DK 100 attempt. This is where Cedar Cross comes in… upon scouring the internet for a gravel ride in April or May I found this event that had some crazy awesome race categories and a general feeling of people just wanting to have a good time. I registered to do the full 115 miles, knowing that it would be a stretch for me to accomplish on my meager training schedule between full-time work and full-time graduate studies, but the 30 mile option seemed too easy. When they announced they were adding a distance option of 63 miles, I went for it.
I have described Cedar Cross to my friends as the highest highs and lowest lows I’ve experienced on a ride. The scenery was the best I have yet seen on a ride, and the event atmosphere was not disappointing. However, the hills were steep and long, it was the first warm weekend of riding, and I nearly bonked halfway through. I drank more water than I had ever drank on a ride before and I thought I was eating enough, but probably was not.
I only survived due to making it to a gas station with a cold coke and a snickers bar. Part of the reason I hit such a low halfway through was getting turned around for several miles. It was a morale killer for sure and after the final enormous hill before the gas station I even stopped and cried for a few minutes until I realized I was probably just needing calories because I was otherwise fine. The funny part about getting lost was that the whole time I was like “my Garmin keeps saying I’m off course!” Ha! It was the first time I had used it following a course and so lesson learned; don’t follow the guy in front of you! The best part of riding Cedar Cross was the singletrack and trek across scenic national forest land.
I have to laugh and then ponder when I think about the fact that it took 10 hours to go 71 miles (was supposed to be 63). My computer told me that my ride time was only 7 hours…what the heck happened to the other 3 hours!? I can account for maybe one of those hours, but I guess it was paused as I slowly trudged up some of those steep hills, or maybe I went through some sort of time warp, or was abducted by aliens!? All things considered, I will return to Cedar Cross next year and i will ride the full 115 miles…even if I don’t come in until the middle of the night like the riders who toughed it out this year. I am just happy I finished and that my Garmin lasted until I was in sight of the finish line (no joke, it died 1000 ft from the end).”