Joe Kleidosty: I rode my first The Epic in 2017, and opted to do the 80-mile route, so I could experience it with my good friend Greg Vaught and his 14-year-old son, Nigel. With the amazing views, well-maintained roads, and challenging climbs, you are guaranteed to experience something Epic. In 2017, a microburst occurred near the finish line. Nigel lived to tell his story and gained a priceless memory with his Dad. This is his Epic story …
By Nigel Vaught: 4:30 am is the unholy time we got up at. The bikes weren’t even awake. We got to the start around 6:30, and I just couldn’t stay awake. I didn’t drink coffee or anything, so I wasn’t feeling like doing 81 miles of gravel. My dad (Greg Vaught) kept waking me up and waking me up, and eventually I got on the bike ready to go. For the first 10 miles, everything was fine; then I bombed through a creek and got my feet drenched. After that, things seemed pretty calm, but it seemed like the sun was going down at 7:30 in the morning.
It started to rain so hard that there were flash flood warnings going off. Of course, we didn’t know until we crossed some rivers. Until then, we were on top of a hill, then there was lightning going all over the place. Maybe this is how Metallica came up with “Ride the Lightning”? Or even better we were “Riders on the Storm”.
We needed to get out of there, so my dad hammered it so we could get out of there. The problem was my glasses were so fogged up and there was so much rain, I could barely see anyone. I had no clue if I was with everyone. Eventually it calmed down…for a while. We came to this river crossing that had branches and logs flowing down at high speeds. We were the last ones to cross because it was so high. Considering the water went up to my thigh, it was a good idea that they rerouted it after that.
My next problem was I has 3 gears the rest of the way so I couldn’t go very fast down a hill. So whenever there was a big hill, I would have to fly up it to stay with my dad and Mr. K (Joe Kleidosty). We finally made it to the 50 mile point, so I ate a bunch of Reese’s to get my energy up. After that there was no one behind us for miles, so we just kept on moving.
I felt so excited when I saw 80 miles on my Garmin. because I knew we were getting close. Two miles after that we hit this microburst or something because there were 15 foot branches collapsing and flying across the road. It became worse when we hit the part of the road with no wind protection from the trees. I’d say there were a couple bursts of wind in the 40’s. It felt like the last 5 miles took an hour. When I came in I was glad to be alive. I also thought how epic of a story this would be for school; I could title it “Thunderstruck”. This race lives up to its name very well.