I found out about this gem of a race around a month ago. I decided I would swing down to Southern Virginia and see if the inaugural event would be special. Oh it was, especially for me. I signed up for the Men’s Expert division, which was a 52 mile, 5000 feet of climbing, XXC course of STOMP and GRIND. The title of the race was given to honor a very special man, Karl Kalber, that dug cycling and did a lot for the Marion community. The race was aptly named Karl’s Kaleidoscope. The course resembled a kaleidoscope as it was diverse with single track, double track, bush whacking, gravel and pavement. The course had plenty of climbing and a splash of technical rock hopping for a little bonus. I was amazed at the talent that lined up as it pulled in some sure enough riders ($500 pay outs will do that). With the firing of a 9mm pistol, I was off and took the lead without intent and after a few miles I slowed and the lead group caught up and I dropped my chain for the first time of many that day. In the lead group I assumed my position and rotated with the group as we paced for about 7 miles or so. Went into the single track near the back, not my intention but that is what it was. After dropping my chain a few more times and slogging through some gravy thick mud that stuck to my drive train for the entire race, I made it out onto a gravel road and decided I would try to claw my way back on the first big climb coming up. As we hit the climb, I sat in the saddle and started to grind and began to reel people back in. After 4-5 miles of non-stop climbing, I had recovered back into the top 5. Now for a descent that was one to remember and was full of hoot-in and holler-in. I got off trail a few times during this time and had to navigate back, fun in the back country. As I was slipping, sliding and teeter tottering over some gnarly rock gardens, I went superman over the handlebars rolling out into a 9.8 landing, no ovations to follow, just me and my bike rolling through. I jumped back up, dusted myself off and remounted to enjoy the rest of the groovy descent. Eventually, I made it back out to the road heading back and did a lap around the lake at Hungry Mother State Park to begin the last big climb. At this point I was feeling the effects of the day and effort. This climb was 2+ miles of winding up, cork screw fashion, but it felt like 4+ miles. On the way up I caught the guy who took second and he was cramping. This gave me a boost and I pedaled up,up, up. After making it to the top huffing and puffing, I started the descent down to the Kalber Farm on a gravel roller. I broke out of the trees and passed the farm-house seeing the finish in site. Crossing the finish covered in mud and spent, the time crew told me I won, oh yeah baby! What a blast this event was and a huge thanks to the Kalber family, volunteers, sponsors and of course my fellow racers. Also, a shout out to the forest service for allowing the community to put this event on as it went through national forest land crossing the Appalachian Trail a few times. I took away $500 and the coolest trophy I have received for racing bikes. I recommend this race for those that like back country riding and a relaxed atmosphere. I expect this race to grow as it has a good payout, great sponsors and a super friendly family of people who put it on.
Now its time for me to prepare to head west and line up for the Summit Hut to Hut 200 miler from Durango, CO to Moab, UT. Should be fun and I expect nothing less. Hope this finds everyone’s summer in fine shape.