Well, I'm two weeks away from my big race day at the Trail Marathon in Pinckney, Michigan where I'll be running 26.2 miles through some intense terrain. I'm actually very nervous! It doesn't help that I've been fighting an injury the last two weeks and it's got me even more scared. I've basically been injured all of 2008 between my foot, my ankle, and now my knee. Luckily one of my good running buddies, Rob, gave me some great advice on how to get through it. Thanks Rob! I'm gonna take it and do this thing come hell or high water (as they say... exactly who are they anyway?).
A couple of weekends ago, my best bud (Tyler) and I took our bikes up to Pinckney, Michigan and rode around the course Potawatomi Trail where this thing is going to take place.
Tyler and I started out and had a hell of a time even getting started. I had just gotten my bike and thought it would "just work". I was wrong. We ended up killing about 2 hours finding a bike store and getting the tools that we needed to get started. I ended up dropping about $50 into a mini tire pump, a patch kit, and a universal tool for working on bikes. We didn't actually get on the path until about 1:30pm rather than our goal starting time of 11:30am. Oh well...
About 2 miles into the course, we knew we were way in over our heads. We should have just left the bikes at the car and hiked this thing. There was snow everywhere and it was near impossible to ride in many places. Tyler's brakes were busted, so he had no way of stopping on the downhills. Going uphill was next to impossible on our bikes due to the course; so we did a lot of walking while guiding our bikes through the narrow paths. We should've known better; the guy at the bike shop said this was considered a 'black diamond' course for extreme mountain bikers. I didn't really know what that meant at the time... but I do now! If anybody tells you that, reconsider your plans and leave the bike in the car! Unless of course, you are an extreme mountain biker.
About 6 miles into the course, both Tyler and I were physically and emotionally done fighting with these bikes. We both took really hard spills and came away with some nasty bruises and scrapes. Unfortunately, there was no time to lay down and cry about our situation, we just had to get up and crank through the next 7+ miles. The sun was going to be going down in a couple of hours at this point and we needed to make up for some lost time. We were literally on the exact opposite side of the course and there were only two ways back: the way we came or the way we're going. We decided to keep moving forward.
At one point, Tyler was in pretty bad condition due to his nasty falls (he took 3 really bad ones). I actually took both bikes (one in each hand) and told him I'd go ahead of him and push through what I can and wait for him when I get too tired. He agreed that it was the best thing to do since he was having a hard enough time walking without the bike from one of his spills. I took off ahead of him with one bike in each hand and navigated up and down the nasty hills of this trail doing a 'fast walk' or 'slow jog' pace. Needless to say, my shins and calves got tore up. The pedals kept racking them and I have some nasty scratches and purple bruises from them, still today.
The goal of our adventure was to (1) scope out the terrain, (2) get some quality "guy" time, and (3) get a course map on my Garmin. Well, we accomplished all of them! Here is the actual map that was created from our journey (link):
At the end of our voyage, we both agreed that didn't regret doing it the way we did it (with our bikes). We did however, vow to come back and hike it in the near future. Keep in mind that this whole post described one single loop around the path... I'll be doing 2 loops around it on my feet on April 27th. :)
I can't wait!!