Well... its all over. The race was a success. First, I would like to thank Q7 for their support and sponsorship. Second, I would like to thank Karen for helping Aaron and I. Without her I don't know if we would have made it through the weekend, and for sure not as easily. We had a great time camping at Ouachita River Haven, saw Niles Boxer and Boxer's Crystals, ate some delicious BBQ, and thankfully didn't freeze even though I pack very poorly. Enough pussy-footing around though, this is all about the 60 miles of pain lovingly referred to as the Ouachita Challenge.
The course ran clockwise this year, which was opposite of last year. That puts the major climbs of Blowout Mtn, and Big Brushy first, and leaves Fish Hatchery and The Womble until last. I geared 32x18 and while I may have been a bit overgeared for some of the climbs, anything less would have sucked on the gravel stretches. The race started with a 7-8 mile gravel/road stretch that saw the group of 275 stretch out pretty significantly. I was pedaling my ass off just trying to stay in the main pack. I kept myself in the front quarter or so of people, and was riding with two other guys on singlespeeds. We just kept jumping from one line of people to the other taking short breaks and then hammering up the small inclines that would slow the geared guys. I knew from last year that I wanted to be as far up front as a could be when we hit the singletrack, but also realistically knew that with guys like Fuzzy in the mix that I had no shot of winning, so I needed to focus on riding my own race. In my estimation there were three SS'ers in front of me when I hit the actual trails, and two right on my tail. We killed the first sections of Blowout, with the climbing starting almost immediately. Then the rock gardens slowed everyone down. I don't know if anyone could ride these rock gardens entirely. After the rocks strung the group out even more, I found myself with two guys really riding well. I was comfortable with the pace and felt good about how I was riding through the trails. We kept picking off people one by one but the group as a whole hadn't totally separated so there wasn't any opportunity to let off and relax. I blew through the first check point, and started up Blowout Mtn. More climbing was forcing me to burn all of my energy just to keep the pressure on any competitors. In a race like this if someone gets out of your sight many times they are gone from there, and you never see them again. After reaching the summit and starting to descend I noticed that my rear tire was feeling squirrelly in hard turns and I feared the worst. I had put a dent/crack in my real wheel two days before after hitting a nasty rock at Sylvan, and was concerned about the tire holding pressure. Luckily, I guess, I found a puncture in my rear tire. I tried to get it to seal up using Stan's sealant and inflating it with a co2. Finally I got it sealed well enough, or so I thought. I took off again after being passed by one singlespeed, and focused on descending as quickly as I could. DAMN, about ten minutes later I had the same loose feeling in the back of the bike. The hole had opened back up and I was running out of co2. Thank God I got it fixed up, but lost one more spot pushing me back to sixth. I rode down the rest of the way and saw Aaron at the bottom. He had the same problem, only his was even a bit more severe. I stopped at the second aid station to grab a banana and some fluids. The climbing continued and my legs started really feeling it around mile 25. We hit a long gravel stretch where I narrowly missed a group of guys who could have pulled me down the eight mile gravel stretch that we had. On top of that another SS'er caught the group and I was forced to watch him ride away in a lovely pace line. The next 20 miles or so consisted of the same crap: climbing, cramping, dying (mostly), being resurrected by Gu, and repeating. Aaron had caught me after fixing his tire and then I passed him while he ate a banana. Honestly most of this race is a blur. We hit some more gravel sections in between trails, I hit a tree so hard the right side of my body went numb, I climbed some things and then wondered how I got to the top, I destroyed the last aid station's food supply. I have never been on empty so many times in one ride. I can recall pedaling as hard as I possibly could and looked down to see that I was going eight mph (epic fail). The finish came after riding with a group of five other guys for the last fifteen miles or so. Mercifully, at 6 hours 12 minutes Aaron and I crossed the line and saw Agent and Karen waving and cheering for us. I finished 8th in the Singlespeed class, and around 45th overall, not too shabby.
Race stats: 62.2 miles, 6 hr 12 min ride time, 9000 calories burned, 5 gus, 8 oz of beef jerky, 5 cookies, 2 natural chocolate nut bars, 24 oz water, 24 oz Accelerade, 48 oz Heed, and 6 cliff bloks. Post Ride included 1 cheeseburger, 1 mtn lightning, 1 grape soda, Pizza hut salad bar, breadsticks, and sausage pizza, and 2 Cutthroat porters.
I may come back to this, but honestly it is two days later and I am still pretty blown up so... this is all I have.
4 days ago