***NOTE: This race report was written by Adam (so if it’s terrible please let us know, so we can fire him from the team). Comments have been added by Luke (in blue) and Rusty (in red). Enjoy***
I’m not sure how Luke found out about the Tour de Donut but when he described it to the rest of the team we were immediately on board with doing it. It was a 32 mile ride with 2 donut stops and for each donut you ate, you got a 5 minute deduction off your time at the end. I mean, really, what goes together better than riding your ass off for 32 miles and gorging yourself on donuts? Sadly enough, it was only Luke, Rusty and myself that ended up going. Bob couldn’t get anyone to cover his shift at work (I’m glad to see St. Marys employees working together to help each other out) and Robby was getting ready to move into his new house.
We showed up the night before at approximately 9 and found the city park in which we were to set up camp. Much to our surprise, there weren’t too many people camping and a few hours later we would find out why. After we set up the tent we went to work on some minor adjusting of the bikes. Since Bob was unable to attend, I was fortunate enough, or unfortunate as it turns out, to borrow his cross bike.
Luke: As we set up camp, Christian Hasselberg, the race director, came up and introduced himself. It was great talking to him, and he was a genuinely nice guy. We thanked him for putting on a great event, and I snapped the following photo of him for our blog:
Luke: Now if you look closely at Christian’s shirt from last year’s race (click on photo to enlarge it), you may notice something peculiar. Don’t worry if you don’t see it right away. I didn’t see it until I was looking back through my photos, and Adam and Rusty never did see it on their own… I had to point it out to them. Anyway, you’ll notice that the first line reads, “22st Annual” instead of “22nd Annual.” Not a big deal, but we all talked about how it would be cool to have a shirt like that. It would kind of be like getting a rare baseball card with a typo, thus upping its value. After the race, we learned that we could indeed buy shirts from years past at the ridiculous price of two for $5!!! We all snatched up a Typo shirt from last year, and we even snagged one for Bob since he couldn’t be there. I love it, and it’s one of my new favorite shirts.
Rusty, who proved to be the intelligent one of the group, pulled out a cooler with a few beers in it. As we drank and worked on the bikes we discussed what would be the plan for tomorrow. Luke and I both had a goal of at least 20. We discussed if the smart thing would be to ride our butts off the first 10 miles and eat as many donuts as possible at the first stop knowing we would be slower after eating so much or should we pace ourselves and spread the amount of donuts over the two stops or the third option of only eating at the second stop. We decided to just see how we felt tomorrow during the race.
Luke: Adam and Rusty must have a blinking problem, and I’d just like to point out that it took 5 attempts to even get the crappy photo above… And Rusty still just barely has his eyes open.
Rusty: We could have tried to take pictures all night and we would have ended up with the same results. My eyes are sensitive to bright lights, man.
As the night wore on we eventually noticed that we were the only ones awake and since it was around midnight we figured we should get some sleep. The weather was perfect for camping out as it was a clear night that wasn’t hot and humid. It was shortly after we fell asleep that we realized why many people don’t camp at the park the night before this race. Trains seemed to go through there every hour with the deafening sound of the whistles breaking the silence in the night…say it with me now…rails to trails.
Luke: I’d also like to take this opportunity to let you know that Adam only brought TWO air mattresses for THREE people – one single bed which Rusty claimed immediately, and a full-size bed which Adam and I shared by sleeping sideways with our feet hanging off the bed. For this, he has been fired from the team, and I wanted to include the photo below:
Rusty: And since neither one of them took me to dinner first, I felt it only fitting to snag the single air mattress.
We got up about 6 and started getting ready to go, exchanging pleasantries about the trains the whole time. They were starting to set up the registration area, which started at 7. We got dressed and figured we should register as soon as they were set up, so we could avoid the onslaught of people that was sure to arrive with the 1620 racers that were signed up for the tour.
Luke: Above we see Rusty getting his game face on. I, on the other hand, decided to get my “game-hair” on…
The registration seemed very well organized and it only took a couple minutes. We ran into Kate at the registration. It was finally nice to meet “SuperKate” and I was glad to hear that my endless terminations from the team bring joy to someone other than Luke and Bob.
Luke: Kate is basically the Den Mother for Team Virtus. She handed each of us a ziplock bag full of baby wipes to wipe the thick, gooey glaze off of our hands at each Donut Checkpoint. It never would have even crossed my mind, so big thanks to her!
As the 9 o’clock start time drew near we figured we had better get lined up. I think people started lining up around 8. It was insane how many riders there were. The entire street was filled with them. We found an open spot somewhere in the middle of the pack. There were a few announcements, and they handed out the Golden Helmet award to the person who traveled the farthest. This year’s winner was from Salem, Oregon which I thought was pretty awesome.
When the race started, it was a few minutes before we actually got to the starting line. It was chip-timed which meant our time didn’t start until we actually crossed the starting line. We actually had a decent pace early considering the hundreds of other riders we had around us. As we pedaled through the streets of Staunton, the streets were lined with crowds of people yelling and cheering us on. They were also ringing cowbells which I found amusing but when I yelled “more cowbell” nobody laughed. Apparently they didn’t find that “Saturday Night Live” skit as funny as I did.
Luke: Maybe they thought the skit was funny, but they probably heard “More Cowbell” a few hundred times already.
It was a couple of miles before we actually made it out of town and the first part of the course was mostly downhill. We tried to stay together as much as possible but with the massive amount of people it was easy to get separated.
Rusty: No I am just that slow!
At the first major downhill, I decided to pick up some speed for the upcoming climb and dropped my chain. I yelled to my compadres that I had to stop, but they didn’t hear me and kept riding. They stopped about a half mile up when they noticed I wasn’t there, although I think they heard me and it was the overwhelming guilt that made them stop. I was impressed with the number of people that offered assistance if I needed it. It only took me a minute or two to get it back on but it seemed like forever. I finally caught up to Luke and Rusty, and we rode on to stop number one.
Rusty: I don’t remember Adam yelling at us (we were too busy blazing down that hill) but what I do remember is Luke and I waiting towards the top of the hill debating on what to do next, and then about that time here comes Adam mashing down on the pedals and leaving us behind. I think Luke fired him again.
Luke: Yes, he was fired again indeed.
When we arrived at the checkpoint, we laid our bikes down and walked over to the donuts. I saw a rider dipping his donuts in a tub of water and overheard him say that he was already on his 13th one. Luke grabbed 6, I grabbed 4, and Rusty grabbed 2. We started eating and quickly realized they weren’t going to go down as easy as we thought. I tried pressing mine together but it didn’t seem to help. The donuts were dense and difficult to chew. We all finished our respective quantities, and Luke and I went back for another four apiece.
Rusty however may well have proved to be the intelligent one again and decided not to eat anymore. He decided to take off and finish the race because there was no sense in staying if you weren’t eating donuts to help your time. As we sat there and ate on the donuts we had just grabbed, we realized we were going to fall well short of our goals. They just weren’t going down easy. We finally choked down what we had left and decided to press on. Check out the video of the carnage that ensued:
Rusty: I was going to stick around with my teammates, but they encouraged me to go (I think I embarrassed them with having only two tallies on my race number). So the rest of my journey was solo.
Luke: Yeah, it wouldn’t have made any sense for you to stick around to witness our gluttony.
At this point in the race, it was just Luke and I. Rusty was well on his way to Donut-stop number two. Shortly after we left stop one, I got a flat tire and it was the back tire nonetheless. Are you kidding me…a dropped chain and a flat tire, all in the span of 12 miles? This was either bad luck or the work of Bob Jenkins. I haven’t decided which. We both pulled over to the side of the road and I started to change the tire when I told Luke it was OK if he wanted to go ahead. I didn’t even have the sentence out of my mouth and he was on his bike pedaling off into distance. OK, so it didn’t really happen that way but he did go on ahead at my urging. I knew I would see him at the next stop. I finally got the tire changed and was once again impressed with the number of people that asked me if I needed anything.
Alone with my thoughts, most of which were about throwing up and the pain in my stomach, I continued on to stop number two but Bob Jenkins wasn’t done yet because I dropped my chain…again. Along this stretch was the dreaded Possum Hill. I only say dreaded because I had heard some people talking at the start of the race about what gear they climb it in. It’s steep and short but it really isn’t that bad. I guess if I would have thought about it, I wouldn’t have worried. I mean anything that’s named after an animal that litters Americas roadways and plays dead when threatened isn’t really scary. If they would have named it “good luck getting your ass up this” hill then I would have worried. In reality it’s only named Possum Hill because the road is named Possum Creek Road or something like that. After a short time I made it stop number two.
As I was rolling to a stop I immediately spotted Luke and walked over to him. He was trying to eat 4 more donuts and from the look of things, it wasn’t going well. I told him there was no way I was eating anymore and I was just going to fill up my water bottles. He told me I should go ahead and ride toward the finish. He was only going to finish what he had and go on but every bite was a meal at this point, and he was going to be a while. I knew he had to be struggling. He had just eaten 10 at the last stop and I felt bad after 8. Clearly, we went about things the wrong way. Bob Jenkins where are you? I filled my bottles and headed down the road struggling to pedal with my stomach feeling worse with every stroke.
At this point in the race it was every man for himself. Rusty was closing in on the finish, I had just left the second stop and there was no telling how long Luke would be there trying to finish his 14th donut. I was keeping up a good pace despite the feeling in my stomach and I managed to chat up a few fellow riders along the way. The last part of the ride was going pretty smooth for me. For the most part, it was the same road we rode out on at the beginning. I kept thinking how bad I felt and knew Luke had to be feeling worse and I had no idea what Rusty was up to.
I was approximately 6 or 7 miles away from the finish when I saw a young man just taking off from the side of the road. I looked down and noticed he had a flat tire. I asked him if he needed help, as I’m sure most people would have done had they noticed the flat, and he said yes but he didn’t have a tube. I looked at the size on his tire and as luck would have it, the tube I had was perfect. I put it on and aired it up with some CO2 and told him he should be able to get back OK.
Luke: For following the Virtus Code and helping this young man, Adam has been reinstated as a full member of Team Virtus… For now.
I went on and rode toward the finish. After a bit I knew I was getting close because of the houses and people along the streets. I picked up the pace trying to finish strong while wondering how far back Luke was. I knew Rusty had to be done by now. The last little bit was through town. With the town rib cookoff going on the streets were lined with more people than ever. The worst part is that I couldn’t even stand the thought of eating ribs at that point. I pedaled faster knowing the end was near. If I wasn’t ready to be done after stop one, I was definitely ready now, although I have to admit it was pretty cool riding through town with all the people cheering. With the finish line in sight I took off in a sprint just wanting to finish strong. It was over at last.
I had finished the Tour de Donut with a chip time of 2:40:43. Not knowing how long it would be before Luke would finish, I made my way through the mass of people to the Virtus Van. I was surprised to see Rusty up and about when I got there, but it turns out he didn’t eat anymore at the second stop. Luke was there as well, sprawled out on the ground ready to pass out. He apparently passed me when I was changing that boy’s tire and didn’t see me. I promptly joined him on the ground so he wouldn’t have to suffer alone. He had ended up throwing two of the donuts away but made sure they marked them off his total which stood at 12.
To see how it went down at Donut Stop #2, check this out:
The miles on our legs, the sun on our backs, the sweat in our chamois, and the donuts in our bellies was just too much to bare. Luke and I simply had to assume this position for 15 minutes or so post-race:
Luke: I assumed that Adam had finished before me and was with Rusty somewhere under one of the pavilions, so I just crashed out on the lawn by the Virtus Van. I was surprised to learn that I had passed Adam without ever seeing him on the side of the road helping that kid out (I guess that’s easy to do with 1600+ riders). Before Adam and Rusty found me on the lawn, I had to listen to a guy describe to his wife, IN GREAT DETAIL, what the donuts looked like, smelled like, and tasted like. I nearly threw up all over myself just listening to this guy. Rusty, on the other hand, was faring much better than Adam and I were…
As we lay there, wishing the misery would end, we admitted to ourselves and each other that it was much harder than we had first anticipated. Now that it was over, we could really appreciate what this ride was about. With 1600 plus riders of all ages and skill levels, it was hard not to have fun. Sure we didn’t eat as many donuts or ride as fast as we had hoped, but it was a great time nevertheless. As you can see by the numbers below, we have something to shoot for next year. I have a feeling 20 will still be our magic number.
Most eaten overall: 40 donuts
Luke – 12 donuts
Adam – 8 donuts
Rusty – 2 donuts (wtf? seriously only 2 donuts?)
Fastest chip time: 1:16:27
Fastest adjusted time: -53.52
Below are some photos of our experiences after the race and on the way home. Enjoy…