In the mountain bike world there is a magical, highly sought after number. A number of such mythical implications that it causes grown men to break down in emotional fits so embarrassingly tormented as to cause even the most dignified of observers to squirm in uncomfortable, awkward, pause. That is, the quest to finish a bike race in under nine hours – that elusive number – is an epic tragicomedy riddled with enough dramatic outcomes, near misses, and “if only’s” to fill the annals of soap opera’s for decades.
In 2004 I raced my first off road 100 miler. The Brianhead Epic 100*. I wanted that sub-nine chalice, and was on schedule to earn it, when I started to struggle through the last 15 miles of the race. I crossed the line at 9:16. The next year I had an epic implosion and finished in…uh…12:16, but that is another story.
Entering the Point to Point I estimated that 9 hours would be a good finishing time for me. In fact, I thought that sub nine at the PCPP would be very similar to a sub nine at Brianhead, or even roughly equivalent to that holy grail of mountain bike races, The Leadville 100. The ensuing results proved that to be, more or less, accurate. And like the Brianhead Epic 100 I was well on my way to an under nine finish in Park City. I had an ear to ear grin on my face as I floated over the Mid Mountain trail, just a few miles from the finish line. And that is when a comical series of events ensued that, in the end, cost me around 20-25 minutes.
I crossed the finish line at exactly 9:16.
It was Brianhead all over again. And so, this winter I am going to keep 16 minutes in the back of mind. Fomenting and stewing and rotting. Because, at some point, and in some race I will have that mythical sub nine standing out in front of me once again. And that is when I will take those 16 minutes, wad them up into a ball and hurl them into the void.
*Why is that the races I enjoy most all end up relics of history?
Exit Question: What is your best sub-nine story?