19 March, 2018
By: Pete Karinen
The mountain bike race season officially began for me last weekend at the True Grit 100! True Grit is one of my favorite events of the season. Two years ago, this was my first 100 mile mountain bike race. I typically stick to XC style racing but since this one is so early in the season, it works really nicely with my training and it's a fun way to test the early season fitness.
A little about the course:
The course is a two lap format with a little bit of everything, from gravel roads, to black diamond singletrack. Long gradual climbs paired with a couple short punchy climbs brings the total elevation gain to 10,000ft. Winning times for the 100 have been right around 6:45 for the last couple years.
A police vehicle provides a controlled start from the Santa Clara City Hall to a dirt road about a mile outside of town where the racing starts. The race this year seemed to string out fairly quickly with eventual race winner Taylor Lideen setting the pace.
About six miles into the race we were cruising down a gravel road at 25 mph. Almost zoned out on the smooth gravel I misjudged a corner that was slightly washed out and off camber. Next thing i knew I was on the ground wondering if I could even continue. Besides scrapes and bruises everything was intact so I started rolling again.
After working through a few riders that had passed me while I was down, I made it back onto Taylors wheel. On the very first technical downhill we opened up a sizable gap on 3rd place and rode away from there. We have similar riding styles and worked together for the next 4 hours opening the gap to almost 10 minutes.
Then the problems started... Roughly 4.5 hours in to the race I flatted, then again, then again. Once you start running a tube on the Utah rocks, the amount you can push your riding really decreases.
At the end of the day it's hard not wonder what could have been. I had been feeling great all day and I would have loved to try and give Taylor a run for his money. While I managed to still get across the line for 4th position. Taylor went on to win and set a new course record of 6:39!
I'll definitely be planning to make the trip again next year. If you're into marathon or ultra endurance races, I'd definitely recommend trying this one. They also have a 50 mile option in addition to the 100 which is the same course but one lap.
Interview with Taylor Lideen: 100 mile race winner