Great day yesterday at the Tourne for the Cycle Craft Fat Fondo. I pulled in a little after seven on a brisk single digit kind of NJ morning, and was greeted by a strong Bulldog presence - Tommy, Kris, Dom and Greg were there to work the event, and helped Cycle Craft pull off a super successful event, with somewhere north of 60 total participants. My AM task was to pre-ride the course and make sure the markings BP and I put up on Friday were still in place. Got back from my course pre-ride with twenty minutes to spare and got into race prep mode - layer shedding, bio break, drink prep, ...

The event offered two options - casual poker run and more competitive endurance challenge, which I signed up for and was all about completing as many of the outer 3.5 mile laps as you could in under four hours. Steve and I lined up along with around ten other riders and off we went with Steve hitting the single track in first place, with me right behind him. About one minute in, we were getting ready to hit the long climb on the eastern side of the park, and I was feeling great so I called out to Steve that I was coming around him at one of the few passing spots. My plan was to hit the climb crazy hard to shake things up a bit - the conditions were such, that you could only ride on a 12 inch wide path that had been compacted by walkers and snowshoers, outside of that was a out a foot of snow that would stop you dead in your tracks. So once we started the climb, anyone who was behind a slower rider would be stuck. So I figured by going hard, I would probably have Steve and possibly one other person come with me before the inevitable gap would occur. Because of the narrow track, looking back was a bad idea lest you would get off track, so I just went hard having no clue what was going on behind me. By the time we exited the climb and single-track a quick check showed Steve on my wheel with nobody else in sight, SWEET! And that's pretty much how things stayed for the rest of the race, with Steve and me changing positions lap by lap, and cranking. First couple of laps we went at more of an XC race pace to solidify our lead, and then when we asked Greg at one of the checkpoints how much of a lead we had and he confirmed laughingly "at least five minutes", we settled into a healthy endurance pace and did our thing. Lap times were a consistent 20 minutes, conditions were fast rolling, with a few tricky soft spots and icy sections, both of which got worse as the morning went on. Unfortunately Steve had to pull off 12:15 to get to work, leaving him one lap short of the 10 laps the three podium finishers completed; I'm pretty sure we lapped everyone else in our field with a 12 minute gap to second place. Was definitely awesome to be riding out front with a fellow Bulldog, just a bummer that we weren't able to share the victory. Now I'm really ready for this stubborn winter to be over.