Half a RedAss The Red Ass 300 was a blast. At least the first half of the course was. The race started at 6:00am sharp with a easy rollout through Winnipeg headed for gravel. Everyone stayed together at first then I found myself in the lead group of five flying down the dirt roads at 30+km/hr into the wind. I stayed with those guys for about 70km then I had to let them go. That was just too fast a pace for me. I slowed way down to recover and stopped to stretch out my screaming back. Lindsay's group came down the road shortly after that, and I jumped on the back of that train until just before the first town. I took a nice 20 minute break at a gas station and ate a big sandwich and a frappacinno. Refilled my water bottles and I was off again. Not to far out of town there was a stream crossing. On the cue sheets it said "dry river ford" : ) It didn't look too bad. I saw some tire tracks riding right through it. I decided to take off my shoes and socks and carry my bike. I didn't feel like riding all day in wet shoes and socks, or worse falling in. It was only knee deep, and it felt nice and cool on the legs. I then pushed on to the first checkpoint at Tinker Creek. There I found some very friendly volunteers and Dallas Sigurdur chilling out. I filled my bottles again and loaded up on some tasty bars they were handing out. Me and Dallas took off and just as we were leaving the single speed malitia came flying by. This was a group of 6 or 7 really fast single speeders. Including Nathan Barten from Grand Forks on his fixed gear bike and Tomek, from Winnipeg, who thought it would be fun to oversleep, start 15 minutes late and chase everyone down! Very cool! Anyway, Dallas and I were off to checkpoint #2 about 90kms away. It was great riding with him. This section was along the Pembina River and there were lots of fast downhills into the Pembina Gorge. I hit almost 70km/h on one of them! Unfortunately the fun downhills meant lots of climbing out of the river valley in the heat of the day. I was doing really well until I ran out of water about a hour from the checkpoint. Dallas was kind enough to give me a few drinks of his. Thanks Dallas. We made it to the checkpoint just before 6:00pm. We were on a 24hr pace! I needed to recover and rehydrate so we headed over to a restaurant and had a tasty cheeseburger with fries and gravy. Perfect endurance nutrition : ) I had a chocolate milk and a gatorade with lots of water too. After about an hour and a half rest, and some egging on from Dallas, I headed out for checkpoint #3. There was rain on the horizon, but I didn't think it looked that bad. I started a climb out of the valley and it started to sprinkle. Then about 3 or 4km down the road the sky opened up and the wind started to howl. I was going with the wind, so it wasn't too bad but I was soaked. Then I made a turn and the wind blasted me from the side with what felt like pellets of ice. It was cold and stung. There was lightning going off all around me. Too close for comfort at times. I started to think, "I'm riding in a thunderstorm on a steel bike this can't be good". So I pulled over, threw my bike in the ditch and dove in after it. The ditch sheltered me from the wind, but I was still getting dumped on. I waited for about 15 minutes until the storm let up. Then I hopped on the bike and flew back to checkpoint #2. I was cold, soaked and muddy. My bike was a mess and wasn't shifting very well. I had 140kms to go before my next drop bag which had a change of clothes and my jacket. I decided to call it a day and leave the rest of the course for next year. This was a great race eventhough I DNF'ed. I felt strong other than when I ran out of water. I had a great time, met a bunch of nice people and got to ride my bike through some beautiful country. I'll definitely be back next year. A huge thanks to Lindsay Gauld and the folks at Olympia Cycle and Ski for putting on this beast. You guys did a great job! Also a big thanks to all the volunteers who helped out. Thank you, thank you! And last, but not least, another BIG THANK YOU to Rick Mangan for chasing us around Manitoba and taking a bunch of great pictures. I nominate Rick for Director Sportif of the year! I'll post some of those pictures later after I go through them. Until then check out the play by play and some pictures at http://www.olympiacycle.com/redassprogress.htm. Later.