On Saturday July 8th, I lined up for my second Crusher in the Tushar. This race has grown substantially in the dozen or so years it’s been hosted. With it being added to the Lifetime series, it’s pulling some of the fastest riders in the nation/world. To demonstrate the way this race has gotten faster In 2019 I finished in 4 hours and 40 minutes, winning the 19-29 category and placing 18th overall. On Saturday 4:40 would’ve put me at 53rd overall.
My goal going into the race was to go Sub 4 hours 30 minutes. I felt I had put in the work, and was ready to have a good race. I started off smooth, being patient and riding at what felt like the right pace. I went up and over the first climb and on the Col De Crush descent I passed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in my category. I then joined with a large group to roll through the 20 miles in Circleville with. Unfortunately no one in the group wanted to put the power down through Circleville so we just easy pedaled the 20 miles.
It was at the end of the pavement that I realized I may be behind my time from 2019, and that my goal of Sub 4:30 was going to be really tough. I thought if I could maybe absolutely hammer up the Col then I’d have a chance.
When I started the climb I attempted to push harder, and I rode smooth and found a descent rhythm. But my power was slowly decreasing, despite a higher heart rate/perceived exertion than earlier in the race.
I crawled up the Col 4 minutes slower than in 2019. At this point, I just wanted to get as close to 4:40 as possible. Second place was closing the gap at the top of the Col and so that gave me a little extra motivation to push harder. I rode smooth through the final 10 miles to the finish, and crossed the finish line in 4:54. It was okay. Not terrible, not great. I was disappointed to be so far off my time goal. It was perhaps an awakening that I’m not as fast as I thought I was right now. But every once in a while being humbled like that can be helpful.
It’s hard to have a clean race, to pace and fuel well, and then still be way under your goal.
But there’s also more to the story. More that didn’t happen on the race course.
The night before I rolled into Beaver at around 10:45, with plans to go a little ways up the Canyon to lay out a pad and sleeping bag to sleep. But I stopped in town to use the restroom and when I got back in my car, it wouldn’t start. A little concerned I decided I better find a place to sleep around there because I couldn’t move the car. I found a place where I wasn’t blinded by street lights and was able to get set up and start winding down. At this point it was already 11:30. I was tired, but having a hard time falling asleep with thoughts of the race tomorrow. Right as I was drifting to dreamland, the sprinklers went off. I had to quickly relocate to some cement where I stayed for the rest of the night. I was awoken again by sprinklers right next to me that were watering the bushes, thankfully I was just getting an occasional misting from these, so I just stayed where I was.
The 5:00 AM alarm went off too early to get up and eat some pancakes. I laughed a little bit inside at how bizarre the situation was.
Sleeping all alone
Trying to race at a high level in the morning
After eating the pancakes I tried to catch a few more zz’s before the real wakeup time at 6 am to go get my race plate.
In total I maybe got 5 hours of mediocre sleep that night. Not ideal. But I focused on having a clean race and not letting the poor sleep get in the way.
This race was a good reminder that the details matter. The 1%’s. I wasn’t dramatically slower on any one section of the course, it was just the whole thing. A few minutes on each climb and voila you’re 14 minutes slower.
It was still a rad weekend with good experiences and memories to put in the journal. I loved seeing all the guys out there and pushing the body for nearly 5 hours.
And even though it wasn’t the time I was hoping for, I can be proud of putting together a clean race and pushing all the way to the end. And at the end of the day 4:54 is still a decent time, but I do want to continue to get faster, not slower. So here’s to figuring out all the pieces and getting faster.