This year’s Tour de Donut was not so much of a pre-planned event as it was an extremely last minute (registered with 12 minutes left) “oh what the hell” kind of event due to the very well timed and appreciated facebook reminder from Kate over on Team Virtus. Back in 2011 it was my longest bike race to date and I did relatively well. I then missed the following year after consuming a few too many adult beverages, losing my wallet and spending the day of the race looking for it and cancelling all of my credit cards. I was disappointed and frustrated to say the least, especially since I was going to be racing against my brother and his girlfriend and was looking forward to eating as many donuts as I could and then leaving them in the wake of my “boosters” as I rode on to certain victory. So after the friendly reminder I promptly registered to do the race, by myself this year, and stayed in the night before as to avoid any possible mishap due to lack of sound adult judgement.
Since this had been a last minute decision and due to the fact that my road bike was in pieces while being cleaned and rebuilt, I decided to just use my cross bike with bigger tires that were still on there from gravel riding. Having looked forward at least this much, the smart idea would have then been to get the bike, accessories and anything else needed for the ride ready the night before so that all I had to do was load up the bike and head out the next morning. I have never claimed to be very smart or efficient in my preparations though, so instead I frantically ransacked the house and my bike gear the next morning at 6:15 after oversleeping, went through a quick mental checklist hoping that I had everything that I needed, said screw it this is going to be fun and I was on the road by 6:30.
I arrived in Staunton and quickly registered as it was starting to get packed. We received a pretty cool t-shirt and water bottle this year to commemorate the 25th year the race has been held. The one year that I had participated I lined up further back in the pack and quickly realized how big of a mistake that was as I wanted to go much faster that most of the people in front of me. So this year I got ready as quickly as possible and lined up closer to the front.
At this point there were already hundreds of people lined up and it wasn’t even 8:00 yet. It is always an awesome experience to see so many like minded people out on bikes there to have a good time with a town full of people cheering them on and supporting the event. While waiting in said line wearing my new Team TOG kit, I was pestered and even hounded for autographs for a good half an hour until the race started. I guess this just comes with the territory and I will have to learn to deal with it as I am sure that all of my teammates can attest to.
Knowing that I had not been logging near the training miles I had in the past (and would have liked to have logged), my plan for this race was just to have fun. I wanted to finish as fast as possible but was more concerned with just having a good time and enjoying the day on my bike. With the national anthem sung and the timer started the pack slowly started to move until we were finally riding. The first two miles were a neutral rollout and went slower than I would have liked but that didn’t last very long. The crowd quickly started to thin and I was able to speed things up a bit. It spent the remaining miles up to the first donut stop trying to stick with groups keeping a comparable speed to my own. At this point I started to wish that I would have switched over to my road tires but oh well, I just had to work a little harder. This was ok with me as I was planning to attempt to do some damage to the donut supply and surely the little extra effort I put in over the course of a 2 hour race was going to burn off the 5000+ calories I was likely to soon consume, right? This brings us into donut stop #1.
I don’t particularly like sweets all that much and of the ones that I do donuts are not high on that list. My goal was to at least match my donut intake from 2 years ago which was 10. I only allowed myself 5 minutes at each stop from getting off the bike, eating and getting back on the road. I figured wasting too much time just kind of defeated to purpose of stopping to eat donuts in the first place (which is 5 minutes of your total race time for each donut eaten in case you did not know). Having pulled in near the front of the huge pack of riders was nice as I was able to get in, dump the bike, down 5 donuts and quickly get back to riding in just under my allotted 5 minutes. While I won’t claim to have felt good at this point I was happy to have something in my stomach as I forgot to eat that morning in my frantic race out the door. Surely all of this sugar was going to give me the energy I needed to knock out the rest of this race.
Things started to get a little more fun however when we finally started to hit some rolling hills and less groomed road. I actually enjoy rolling hills and crappy roads as it breaks up the monotony of the flats and makes me focus a little bit more on my surroundings. Plus who doesn’t like a good downhill? While I mean what I say about riding some hills, I would soon come to realize that the flats were doing me a favor in the lighter effort and keeping at bay the doughy discomfort that was soon to come. Enter donut check point #2.
The same game plan that I stuck to at donut stop #1 was quickly put into motion, but the donuts were just not going down nearly as well this time. I wish that you could see just how monstrous these donut are if you haven’t seen them. They are not a dinky little krispy kreme donut. One racer next to me attempting to eat more by soaking them in water described them very well. He said that they are like “personal size cakes that some idiot covered in Elmer’s glue.” I laughed at this as I stuffed the 9th into my mouth and grabbed number 10. As 10 went down, I briefly considered an 11th so that I could top my previous year. This notion was quickly dismissed as I convinced myself that there were still 10 miles to ride and they were supposed to be hillier that the first 24. Again meeting my 5 minute time goal, albeit feeling much worse, I mounted my steed and took off ready to tackle the hills.
Now when I say hills, these are not the type of hills that I, or most that ride, would generally find terribly challenging on a normal training ride. Add in a doughy ball of half chewed delights in your stomach which are potentially a ticking time bomb and the ride takes on a whole different dynamic. The next 5 miles were focused on not revisiting how those donuts tasted going down in the first place. After those 5 miles things started to settle and I was starting to really enjoy the hills and reveling in the fact that I did not feel like either soiling my new kit or pulling over to barf. I beat the donuts!! That was until I decided to stand up and try to rock out a bigger hill as fast as I could.
This was one of the final big hills of the ride and I wanted to get across the finish line as fast as I could at this point so that the donuts were not eaten in vain. I shifted to a harder gear, stood up and kicked the hills butt, which was promptly met with burping up approximately one donut into my mouth. Now this is where I had to really think about my path forward. I did not allow it to faze me and continued riding while evaluating my situation. Yes, I would have liked to discretely spit out this half digested donut and continued on to the end claiming my 10 donuts eaten and 50 minutes off of my total ride time. However, I knew though that I couldn’t deal with the shame and guilt of knowing that I really only contained 9 donuts in my stomach crossing that finish line. Therefore I did what any honorable rider would do and I re-ate that tenth donut and laughed at it going down.
The rest of the ride was less eventful and rather enjoyable. My stomach started to settle as I think that it accepted its defeat. I rolled across the finish line in around 2 hours 20 minutes with 10 donuts in my stomach and a smile on my face.
I truly forgot how fun it can be to just ride for fun and now worry about the “race” aspect so much. That being said, I was able to snag 57th out of 1347 riders on donut adjusted time and I was happy with that. While I will most certainly do this race for years to come, I have a feeling that my donut eating days are behind me as I felt like a hung over fool the next day or so solely due to the donut consumption. Who knows though, if the stakes are high enough in the future I will gladly accept a bet based on doughy superiority!