by Tony Russo
I rode the 104 mile event. Greg and I were starting at the front of gold and we had two teammates Gary and Jimmy starting at the front in platinum. It has been my goal since I started riding in 2009 to make platinum at this event. In 2012 I crashed hard and was unable to finish and in 2013 I missed it by just 98 seconds. The weather was perfect so I decided to go as hard as I could from the start and see if I could get on Jimmy or Gary’s wheel. It took about 7 minutes but I was able to make it on to Jimmy’s wheel and the ride was uneventful going into the wash. I dismounted and ran as best I could across the wash but my heart rate was approaching 190 bpm by the time I remounted. I settled into a group about 100 yards back from the lead group and we held that gap most of the way till we got to Kolb (about 23 miles in). By this time we had lost a bit more time on the lead group and our group was down to about 12. We kept a good paceline going all the way to Old Spanish Trail 34 miles in. A larger group caught us and we all merged together for the descent down Freeman Rd. As we got closer to the second wash crossing we still had a large group and I worked my way up front as best I could as I knew I would lose a bit on the steep climb on Snyder Rd. The second wash was in perfect condition and I was able to ride all the way through. My teammate Margo was on the other side with a fresh bottle which I grabbed and then kept going.
Once I got on Sunrise about 50 miles in I started cramping in both my legs. I knew I had probably not taken in enough fluids and electrolytes. I sat in as much as I could and drank a bottle over the next 15 minutes. The cramps continued for the next 15 to 20 miles but started feeling better the closer I got to home.
Our small group of 7 made the turn onto the frontage road but we were all tired and it was hard to hold 18 mph in the headwind. I started doing the math in my head and knew it would be close at this pace. I thought to myself, "not again." I took as long of a pull as I could when it was my turn to try to make up as much time as I could. After a few miles a larger group caught up with us and I quickly jumped in. We were back up to 20+ mph and I knew I was gonna do it. About 8 miles to go I saw my wife, step daughter and newborn son on the side of the road cheering me on. I was feeling much better and made a good push all the way to the finish. My official time was 4:41:58. I cant wait to ride again with my new IC3 teammates!