Important bike-dork data for people who like that sort of thing and may be looking for new ways to flush money down the toilet:
Aluminum Cyclocross frame made in Southeast Asia like every frame from every manufacturer: In this case it's a Blue Norcross SP. I bought this from an online store for a great price. As much as I'd like a snazzier boutique steel frame, this bike has served me so well that I can't justify a new bike. Yet.
Wheels and Tires: Velocity A23s with a WTB Nano 40 on the front and an MSO Explorer 40 on the rear. PSI ~40 and ~45 respectively. I also use tubes. I've never ridden tubeless. But I've never had problems with flats and I am afraid to try new things.
Bike Computer: This was my first test of my brand new Garmin Edge Touring GPS thingy. I downloaded what I thought was the proper map so I could have some idea of how much time I had to suffer. I hit start at the start and after a few feet realized that I had the previous year's map loaded. This is important because the course is run in different directions each year. So every time during my misery uphill my Garmin was exhorting me to "Make a U-turn as soon as possible." Also about 55 miles in the computer inexplicably powered off. Not impressed, Garmin.
Oh yeah, my friend Roger was with me. He crashed in a well-marked rut on a descent. His bike survived and he had some bleeding, but nothing serious. Fortunately he was in front of me. Otherwise I would have certainly crashed in his place.
Long gravel ascent to the parkway, where the most godawful climb commenced. Hours it seemed, and I desperately wanted to heed my Garmin's U-turn advice. Roger caught me midway and we rode to a food stop. I reloaded on PBJs and potato chips while Roger went ahead. Hours passed and I almost caught Roger at the top of a climb. But to our right was tourist facility. I seized the opportunity to shed some weight in the bathroom that had been bothering me for the last hour or so. So yeah, I'm a Florida flatlander going up the biggest hill ever AND I've got to take a shit.
That happened. Back on the road, maybe 1/2mph faster. Get off the parkway onto one of the longest, fastest descents I've ever ridden. It's a good thing I made a pit stop earlier because this road was shit-your-pants fast. Another food stop, this one with quesadillas. (The volunteers at this race were great. You didn't even have to stop. At one I just tossed them my empty bottles and they handed me new ones filled with colored sugar water as I slowly pedaled by.)
More gravel roads, short but hurty climbs. It started raining when I hit the final paved stretch. I was rejuvenated. I TT'd all the way home and managed to pass some of the mountain bikers who made me feel like a pansy on the tricky downhills.
I will certainly do this race again. As a bonus the new Oskar Blues Brewery is only two miles from the park entrance. You should go there. They had a cask-conditioned imperial red with ginger and lime that I recommend. The brewery is a shrine to beer and bike love. Here is your author at the bottom of the steps leading to the tap room.