This October 12th marked my second Filthy50 race, or what I call my second Trenton race of 2019. Trenton as in, Trenton Raygor, who (along with many dedicated helpers) organizes both The Day Across Minnesota (DAMn) and The Filthy50 unsupported gravel rides. The thing about Trenton is, while we all consider he has a definite streak of evil for the courses he creates, he is probably one of the single-most caring, evil people you will meet. If you finish one of his races (and even if you don’t) rest-assured, he’ll be at the finish line offering up free hugs. Sometimes, you just need to be held after finishing one of these. And this time, that person was me. I got spanked.
The Filthy50 took place in Lanesboro, MN for the first time. The course promised a lot more elevation and new scenery. That alone made me excited. According to the weather forecast, it also offered our first snow/sleet storm of the season – and the weather didn’t disappoint. Lanesboro knows how to make a group of cyclists feel welcome. From banners on the street to cinnamon rolls made by the Amish community and musicians playing at a mid-way stop, I felt the warmth during this cold, wet ride.
Notably, this year’s proceeds went to The Zumbro Valley Health Center, which provides mental health services to individuals, no matter their ability to pay. My family has a history of struggles with mental health illnesses, and I also treat for anxiety and depression. Many folks are unable to pay for mental health counseling. I hope, with the amount we raised, it can assist a few more people in obtaining treatment that they may not otherwise be able to afford. Mental health treatment should not be a privilege solely for those of us fortunate enough to afford it.
This year, my friend, Annie, was joining my other friend, Tim, and myself for her first-ever gravel race. She would be doing the 25-mile course, and we all rode together the first 8 miles. I love seeing new faces at gravel races – and especially FTW (femme-trans-women) riders. Power in numbers!
In all my excitement and preparation, amongst work and other life to-dos, I made a rookie mistake; I forgot to print my cue sheets. I don’t have a bike computer, so the answer was clear: Tim was going to have to suffer and ride with me. Suffer, he did, all with a gracious smile and attitude.
A short bit into this course, after parting with Annie, the snow, sleet, and sideways wind began. There was lots of climbing, and my recent increase in pounds was more than noticeable. Since riding the DAMn, and beforehand, I’ve been dealing with some physical issues. I have been working with bodyworkers, a bike fitter, and physicians to get myself back in order (I’ve coined this, “Project #MakeBikingFunAgain”). That means, while I’m still riding for work and bike commuting every day, I haven’t been doing physical strength training nor much working out. For the last couple of months, I’ve exchanged training for rest, mobility work, and bodywork. And I felt it during this ride.
Either way, this course offered beautiful sights of horses, bellowing cows in pastures, supporters ringing bells, mud pits (it is the Filthy50, after all), and nature’s microdermabrasion (aka sleet.) I lamented to my friends on the way home that I thought the new course scenery was gorgeous, but I didn’t get to soak it all in as I would have liked due to squinting my eyes and dodging flakes. While you can’t always win with the weather, it proves to make a tough course even harsher. As such, you can only presume that one increases their badass points.
I had a rough year; finishing at about 5hrs and 30 mins compared to my finish in 2017, at 3hrs 25 mins, felt defeating. It can be challenging to accept that some days, your mind is stronger than your body. It is humbling, and I am reminded that I need to be gentle with both my person and spirit. That is one of the most challenging things to do as a regular rider. If this had been one of my friends, I’d tell them I’m proud that they never gave up, finished the ride, and did their best on that day. That is all we can ever do.
This year, the last 50 finishers earn a Lantern Rouge patch, and I am amongst them. I earned every snowflake-in-the-eye, sleet-slap-on-the-face, wind-gusty, muddy-water-dripping-down-my-pants, moment of it without giving up. For that, I’m proud.
Annie, I’m so proud of you! I didn’t doubt for a second that you could accomplish this course. It was special to be able to accompany you a portion of your first gravel race – even when you swore at me. 😉 Tim, you are a true friend. Thanks for sacrificing a faster, likely warmer, ride to stick with me since I forgot to print my sheets. I’m proud and lucky to call you both my friends.
Thanks to Trenton and crew, volunteers, Lanesboro and local community, sponsors, and my fellow riders. It was a fantastic day. Next year, I’ll be back to get even at you Filthy50.