trevor showed up friday morning, left larsson with adam's fam and the forbes fam for weekend duties, loaded up the child molesting race van with trevor and julie and headed south. very, very far south. we made it to mena (hotel location) in about 8.5 hours. not a bad trip, really. absolutely gorgeous once we left misery. i think that's how you spell it. maybe missouri. checked into the hotel...er...motel. clean though. good enough to sleep in. drove to oden and checked in for the race and got some grub. trevor scored some race x lite 29'er wheels as schwag just for eating some spaghetti...wow. a little jealous. got back to the motel knowing i hadn't put enough calories (read "crap") into my body. so a walk to sonic for some late night cheeseburger and fries was in order. got my stuff ready for the morning and tried to sleep. woke up every hour, maybe a bit anxious.
woke up to rain. and much colder. happy for the cold, not the rain. too hot saturday, would have been in the hospital by the end. got to the race, got dressed, met jj (still haven't seen results for him), warmed up a bit, ran into a couple iowa city guys (god i suck at names), brian and brother were there as well. rain stopped. readysetgo. controlled roll out on pavement SUCKED. fast and sorta fast geared folk out front, big mob of single speeds all rocking similar gears and spinning miserably together. then came a big ass climb. gravel for a while, then atv-ish. i passed a lot of people. i passed a lot of people fixing flats. A LOT. never seen so many flats. and we were still climbing. this did make me a bit nervous. i was running about 23 psi in the nano out back and about 21 in the big comfy weirwolf up front. mental note from the start...protect the tires. so many more flatted on the way down the backside after that climb. the trail was absolutely littered with people fixing flats, never seen anything like it. i felt good so i rode hard...or kinda hard. did a decent job of controlling the adrenaline out of the gates. got stuck in the first couple sections of single track behind down-shifting geared folks so i ran a couple hills just to give the legs a break. never lost ground, just trotted along behind some guys spinning crazy high cadence. it was obvious early...these trails were awesome. super flowy, amazing views, rocky, long sustained climbs, rippin fast downhills. even sight-unseen you could rip through this stuff. for only being on trails for about a week i felt very dialed technically. nutritionally i was doing pretty well. 100 oz. of water on my back and 2 24oz. bottles of carborocket. doing well nutritionally til i blew past the first aid station where i had planned to stop and sort some stuff out. turned out to not be a problem since we now had a ridiculously long stretch of pavement. i was able to eat and hydrate a lot. two very cool geared riders time trialed up to me but let me latch on. i spun my ass off in their draft and they pulled me graciously all the way to the next gravel section. super cool guys, don't remember names, but huge thanks to those guys. more gravel, more water crossings, had to walk the big one, mandatory dismount. started tearing into my beef sticks, which others found amusing but i say they are the shit. i'll take them above any bar or gu on a long ride. luckily i take all of those.
basically at this point it was settle in and ride. push it when i felt good, back off a little as i was starting to feel fatigue a little. most importantly...ride smart! every 2 seconds there was something to flat on. i felt my front rim bottom out on rocks more times than i care to admit. you had to be mentally sharp or you'd be patching something. the course continued its mix of gravel and sweet singletrack and i felt good. riding with a smile and very happy that my nutritional plans were working out. then we hit blowout mountain. wow. walk, walk, hike, hike, ride, walk, hike, ride, walk, hike. holy shit it was rocky. and it climbed forever. by now my hands hurt...a lot. having to battle to the top of blowout was bad enough, but i almost had to walk the downhill side because my hands hurt so bad i could barely ride over the rocks anymore. i will buy a suspension fork someday. got to aid station 2 thrilled for a break. refilled the bottles with some pre-portioned carborocket, then it was back into the trails. more hike a bike. more rocks...huge gnarly rock gardens that were difficult to walk through. i gave up on trying so many of these because walking would lose so much less time than fixing a flat or dealing with a taco'd wheel. starting doing a yo-yo game with some geared full suspension guys. i'd catch them climbing what i could, they'd pass me going downhill. finally the bonk started to come. i could tell and it was too late. too little food, too much gu and i was about to be in bad shape. the hunger came, then the feeling of overheating, then the dizziness. fuck. i knew there had to be an aid station soon so i started sucking down as much water as i could. needed to eat but was stubborn about it. finally saw julie again and she said aid was just up the road. stopped for some food. shoved down some fig newtons that had baked in the sun and guzzled more water. the bonk was going away (a VERY quick bonk/recovery by my standards) and i headed down the gravel. less than a quarter mile of gravel to the next singletrack and just as i was about to enter...no twinges...no warning...just BOOM!...there goes the hammy. first cramp of the day. damn it. this one took a long time to rub out. back on the trail...very gingerly. basically couldn't pedal up hill. ride the flats, coast the downs, as soon as it went back up i'd push a few strokes then walk. every hill that came i got a couple strokes further up til the strength started to return and with it came renewed confidence in my body. super fun last section of singletrack. last group of volunteers..."all gravel and road from here". me..."how far?" them..."8.5 miles". christ. totally spent, here we go for 8.5 miles of ripping fast downhill gravels with a few climbing efforts thrown in. about a mile or so onto the gravel and spinning my legs like the road runner my hamstring blew up again. no stopping now. unclipped the right foot and let the leg hang while the left one continued to spin and propel me forward. got the cramp worked out and sucked down every bit of water i had.
in the end i had absolutely no idea how i was doing. but i knew this...i could not have done much better. going into the race a good friend asked me my goals...realistic was top 5 ss, top 50 overall and sub 6 hours. what i wanted was top 3 ss, top 25 overall, sub 5 1/2 hours. while recovering on the good side of the finish line someone from the tent hollared at me not to go anywhere. huh? she told me she owed me a check for winning the ss category. "are you fucking kidding me?" so much for acting like you've been here before. so much for acting appropriately on elementary school grounds. sorry, i was just a bit surprised. 1st ss, 19th overall, 5:44 and change. judging from results it looks like this years times were pushed back about 20 minutes by the difficulty of the ride so even my time goal was achieved. i've ridden my ass off this winter, and really for the last year and a half. i've worked hard on getting my nutrition figured out. my jabber is a phenomenal weapon. sometimes things just come together.
time for pics and time for me to get out on the road bike and spin the littlest gear i can for a few minutes. legs are still garbage. still don't have all my grip strength back. glad to have a two week break before the next race. congrats to brian on taking the 80 ss. write up eventually about carborocket. been using this stuff for about 6 months now and i'm hooked.