A sword is better than a knife, but you’re still gonna get pretty messed up.

Every year a couple people show up with singlespeeds to this epic ride besides me, and every year they swear to never do it again. They roll into the finish line with sore knees and promise to bring gears next year.

I didn’t bring any more gears, I just brought one larger, more painful gear.

It was great on the flats, which was the goal. I hung with the lead guys for about 8 miles, which is about 7 miles longer than the last couple years. The singletrack was a little rough. I never realized how off my timing would be with a different gear, and how much more I would hit a 44 tooth chainring instead of the 32.

But, really, that isn’t the important part. The question that I was asked time and time again was simply: how was that climb?

Well, you’re just gonna have to wait a minute for the answer to that, because I had a little mishap before that. It was about 1/2 mile into the big descent, and I washed out on a turn moving at a pretty decent clip. Here’s the result, and if you want to see the gory details, click though the picture.

Yes, it hurts like a bitch, and yes, it’s probably gonna look even worse tomorrow. Luckily my glove held up to the 20 foot skid on the gravel road I went down on, so the hip took the brunt.

I hope you weren’t eating anything while you clicked through on that one.

As you can imagine, I was a bit uncomfortable when I hit the bottom of the climb, but I filled up water at the river, scrubbed the gravel out of my hip, and settled in for the pain that awaited.

I’ll be honest, it was hot as hell on the first half of the climb. I heard horror stories about people jumping from shade to shade to make it up the hill. I just succumbed to the heat exhaustion, hiked a few of the steeper hills and pushed through.

I guess the upside to doing this ride for the fourth time was knowing that the last 5 miles of the 12 mile climb is a nice even railroad grade. That thought got me through the heat and the hills and I was rewarded with a nice steady 14 mph on the last few miles. It happens every year, and this was no different.

I feel like I could push any gear in the book up that last section. It’s amazing.

The ride was a ton of fun, and a ton of pain, but I’ll be back for more.

The afternoon and evening got underway soon after I rolled into the gold king mine. I cleaned up, stuffed my gut with BBQ from Bigfoot, and then set in on the beer while everyone else rolled in.

I think a record number of people bonked, cramped, and generally felt defeated this year. I’m happy to say that the vast majority of them pushed through, and everyone was in good spirits from the food and beer by the time the Shindaggers took the stage for their typical drunken rock.

It was amazing as usual.

Well, at least it was loud….as usual.

We spent the remainder of the evening around the fire passing around a bottle of Jim Beam and listening to Shawn and CJ play some bluegrass. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Alright, I lied.

Four of us rolled down to the bar in Jerome for ‘one last drink’ after that, but that technically was sunday at that point, so we’ll just leave that as an asterisk to the whole event.

Another weekend in the books.