As I was lining up at the starting line for my first-ever mountain bike race, I asked my neighbor if I had made the right choice by selecting one of Colorado’s most difficult 50-milers. He said “absolutely!” I couldn’t agree more.

I'm in there somewhere on the far right in a red jersey.

I’m the micro red dot square in the middle of the picture, behind the official in the green vest.

Oh shit, there I am (red sleeveless jersey).

Oh shit, there I am.

Aaaaand I have no clue that my parents (taking the picture) are close enough to punch me.

Aaaaand I have no clue that my parents (taking the picture) are close enough to punch me. Lip biting required.

The first lap was alright. I clipped a tree early in the race (mile 8 of 50) and bailed over the handlebars. Only an injured ego.

Gimme some SUGAR! Aid station 2, just before a nasty climb.

Gimme some SUGAR! Aid station 2, just before a nasty climb.

More Honey Stinger, less smirk.

More Honey Stinger, less smirk.

Taking my sweet-ass time getting packed up.

Taking my sweet-ass time getting packed up.

Jesus, that guy is having FUN!

Jesus, that guy is having FUN!

Despite cramping constantly for several miles during lap 1, lap 2 was where it really started to hurt. I was already in the back of the pack when I started, now I was waaaaaay behind. I made the cutoff by 20 minutes.

Dude is having waaaay too much fun for being 35 miles in.

Dude is having waaaay too much fun for being 35 miles in.

Thumbs up for "mooooar sugar, plz"

Thumbs up for “mooooar sugar, plz”

Seriously man, get your ass back on the bike. Less thumb, more pedal.

Seriously man, get your ass back on the bike. Less thumb, more pedal.

There's a good boy! On to suffer!

There’s a good boy! On to suffer!

I was more or less dead at the end of lap 2. My goal was to avoid wrecking in the fast downhill switchbacks at the end where everybody could watch me eat dirt if I mismanaged a corner.

Nice views!

Nice views!

God's hand ready to smite me just before finishing. No wait, just my stepmom cheering my not-DFL finish.

God’s hand ready to smite me just before finishing. No wait, just my stepmom cheering my not-DFL finish.

Race cutoff time: 7 hours. My official finish time: 6:51 and I was NOT DFL (dead-effing-last)!

Thanks to my dad who took all of the pictures, including the ones at aid station 2 where he worked a double-shift as a last-minute volunteer.

A great event with well-supported aid stations and well-marked trails, I will be returning next year for the Firecracker 50 2016!

You don't do races like this unless you have fun.

You don’t do races like this unless you have fun.

Sporting my mid-level race hardtail in case Trek wants to sponsor me with a carbon Fuel EX.

Sporting my mid-level race hardtail in case Trek wants to sponsor me with a carbon Fuel EX.