AJ Lester recounts his first ever GNCC race aboard a Warnert Racing-Equipped Can-Am Outlander Xxc
I had been told by someone who had never raced it, the Ironman is like a 2-hour fast-paced trail ride. WRONG!
What I didn’t expect was the all-out adrenaline fix I would be on for the full two hours. You just can’t practice for that.
The first hour went pretty smoothly and I held my own, feeling-out the Warnert-prepared Outlander Xxc under me and getting used to the way it handled on the terrain.
I also began to develop the knack for passing. It required me to yell at the top of my already out-of-breath lungs: “MOVE!” and when that didn’t work a NASCAR-style “I’m Back Here” bump was the only way to break the slower riders’ focus.
I knew I was up against faster, more seasoned riders and, more importantly, I knew if people wanted to rock and roll from the start and end up upside down or broken I should let them pass and make up time with consistency. So I let the faster riders go and eventually re-passed all but two of them.
By the one-hour mark I was spent. From here, I paced myself as best I could but had a lapse and let my ego ride a few laps even though I was incredibly worn out. In essence, I hit the wall.
My arms were pumped with lactic acid, my knees burned with pain from a few unhealthy impacts and my focus was becoming hazed as I blew a few corners and overshot a couple of jumps.
The final hour was all-out and required me to dig deep and find energy and strength I didn’t know I had.
While I did manage to cartwheel the Xxc twice in the final hour, the second crash involving a healthy oak tree, managed to re-focus me and get my mind back in the game.
Seeing the white flag was pure joy. Knowing the end was near, a final burst of energy came forth and while I knew I was riding on the ragged edge.
I forged on passing riders in the final minutes of the race netting myself a podium 3rd, but more importantly a feeling of accomplishment just to say I had finished the Ironman.