Westside Dirty Benjamin
Westside Dirt Benjamin has been one of the races I look forward to riding every year now for the past five year. This year a new course was introduced which was a nice change. The weather forecasted was to be a hot day and it was. A small group of five of us met up to ride out to Chaska to the start at Michael's Cycles with the plan to also ride back to Minneapolis. We had a nice ride out to Chaska with a Mc Donald's pit stop for some breakfast. Once at the start and registered it was a little wait until the start. We rolled out of Chaska and then hit the first gravel road. The pace picked up and the packs spread out. The wind also began to pick up with gusts up to or around 40mph. Mostly headwinds with some cross winds that stole my cue cards around mile 30. The gravel was freshly laid on and off for the first 45-50 or so miles. It was a challenge with all of these conditions to hold a good pace. I knew I wasn't going to push really hard since I still was planning on riding home. Once at the first water stop it was clear that the few people there were feeling the heat. I ate and drank and continued on. I followed Taco Cat racer Risa and fellow teammate Ben out of the park only to be dropped almost immediately. From this point on I rode alone only to see maybe 3 more riders. I rode my pace taking shade stops when needed. I had packed plenty of food and carried a good amount of water to keep myself happy an hydrated. Just before Le Sueur would be the last time I saw any others riding the course. After that it was to the checkpoint around mile 65. There were a few riders here but it was becoming clear that none of them would be continuing on. They'd wait for rides back to Chaska. I had a drop bag with bananas and a half frozen gallon of water to keep me moving on. I left pretty much knowing I was the last one on the 100 mile course. After this checkpoint conditions were still very warm BUT the gravel became hard packed with some pavement here and there. The best part may have been the tail wind! I'd checked my phone around mile 80 into the course to see that a few others that had rode out to Chaska were just finishing up. I knew I'd be a bit so I told them not to wait on me. What I soon would find out is the heat would get the best of them and no one was planning on riding home on a bike. I received a message from fellow teammate Jana offering a ride home. I continued on to the finish where fellow teammates Jeff, Ben, and Alex were waiting patiently for me to finish DFL and offer a ride home. I hung out for a beer, snacks and water before continuing on. I found one rider left packing up near Michael's Cycles who was nice enough to let me use his floor pump to add some air for the ride home. He would also offer a car ride home. I was still feeling ok so I'd decline the ride. I am very appreciative for all the generosity and concern but I was still feeling ok and wanted to stick with my plan. Off to home it was! Already at about 120 miles for the day it was only another 20 miles home mostly at railroad grade on limestone that has never felt so smooth! There was one climb up highway 101 but it was paved so not horrible. 140 miles later I was home and it was time to pre wash myself of the gravel dust with the garden hose and settle in for an evening of grilling, fire with some friends, and a few beers. All in all I was happy to be 42 of 42 to finish the 100 mile course. As well as the only one that I've heard to ride to and from the race. As always I can't wait for Dirt Ben again next year! Thanks to everyone for who had part in organizing WDB. Always a blast to ride!