Here are some pictures that Carolynn took:
First let me state that 63 miles on a mountain bike with no suspension and no gears over trails like Blowout Mountain is a bad idea. Especially when you aggravate an old back injury like I did this past week. I almost considered not racing today, but Betsy and Sarah worked on my back during the week and I worked my butt off with two-a-day therapy sessions to be able to ride mostly without pain today.
Carolynn got us a cool place to stay this year. We ended up staying in the Duck's Unlimited cabin on top of this hill with my teammates Tige, Randy and Dan. I highly recommend the Mena Mountain Top. After a good night sleep we awoke to the sweet sound of rain. Sweet for me because I usually have a good day when it is muddy. Combine that with the fact that I was riding a SS I was looking forward to the rain continuing. This was not to be and it soon stopped which is just as well.
I missed the riders meeting and arrived at the starting line late due to getting all my food ready and giving Carolynn driving instructions. When I did get there I had to start in near dead last. I really wanted to be in the top 50 places on the start I could draft and save my legs for the numerous climbs that were to come. Starting behind 375 riders is not the best place to start. I spend the next 10 miles passing a couple of hundred riders on a single speed. I kept asking myself if I should be going this hard this early. The answer was NO.
Once we hit the Womble I was in a good spot, but spent a ton of energy getting towards the front of the race. The trails started to get a little rough and I was bouncing all over the place due to no suspension and a little too high of air pressure. Some guy behind me yells out "hey Cow Town, you have a hanging nut sac". I did not know what he was talking about. I thought he wanted by or something then I looked down between my legs and sure enough my seat bag with all my tools looked like a "hanging nut sac". The main strap had broken and a second toe strap that I put on was the only thing keeping in on. I decided I better stop and try to fix it. No luck there. I tried to fit the seat bag in my jersey pocket, but it was to large and barely fit. I took off, but about a mile later it falls out. Again I stuffed it as far as I could in my jersey pocket. Rode my ass off for another 3 or 4 miles passing a dozen or so riders in the process. The next time it fell out I almost left it there, but decided I better take what tools I really needed out just in case I needed them. I rode really hard again passing riders left and right on the way to rest stop #1.
At the rest stop I continued my nutrition plan which was an all liquid diet for this event. For the past 3 months I have used Hammer's Substained Energy, Perpetuem and/or Hammer Gel's on my training rides with good results. According to Hammer Nutrition, you are not to eat anything prior to your event other than Hammer products. Nor should you combine their products with any others. My teammate Tige learned this the hard way last year during a local 6 hour event when he mixed Accelerade and Substained energy together. Since Carolynn was going to support the team and go to the rest stops I was able to have her give me two cold fresh bottles at each stop. Each 28 oz bottle had two scoops of SE and 1 gel pack. The idea was to drink one bottle an hour which would give me about 350 cal/hr. Everything was working great until about the 4 hour mark. I started to get some cramps, which I think was from the lack of water. I should have only carried one SE bottle (w/an xtra gel) and one water bottle. Too many calories and not enough H2O.
The next 1/2 hour was mainly on paved road and gravel. The paved sections sucked on the old SS. I worked with as many riders as I could drafting off all the geared guys. I could not help much because I was all spun out. Once past the town of Sims, we soon hit the gravel road where the old SS actually worked well. Soon we were crossing Fiddler Creek and the Ouachita Trail awaited us. I was still riding strong and soon found myself in 2nd place in the Single Speed division. The leader had "checked out" but I felt comfortable with my effort and good about the chances of reaching my goal which was top 5. A few miles from feed station #3 I was starting to get some leg cramps. I began to have trouble climbing and had to walk some steep sections. A few riders passed me including a couple single speed guys. Once past #3 and what I thought was Blowout Mountain, I still was in the top 5 and felt good. That was until we picked up our first token and the course volunteer informed us "welcome to Blowout Mountain and enjoy the trip". What a blow to the old mind.
The remainder of the race was a true suffer fest. The downhills were the worst. The old Ouachita trail is hard with tons of rocks and climbs. Not something that you enjoy when you have hit the wall. My teammate Garet Steinmetz caught up to me on Blowout Mountain, but he was also having some cramping problems and stopped to drink some pickle juice. What? That is what I said. Seeing him gave me some motivation and I picked up the pace some. I actually caught up to him on the final section of trail past feed station #4 and was hoping we could work together on the final road section. On that final section another teammate, Mike Classen caught up to us and we rode together for awhile. I was able to climb o.k., but was not able to descend as fast as Mike could on his full suspension bike. As Mike rode away from me on the final decent I cussed myself for not getting a suspension fork :-) On the final 8 miles of gravel road, Garet came flying by me in his 44 x 12. So much for working together. Must have been the pickle juice....
I put in one last ditch effort to catch the remaining riders that I could see ahead of me. I did not know if any were in my class, but I gave it my best shot. At the finish there was just one guy who I did not catch. And wouldn't you know it, he was the 5th place Single Speed finisher. I finished about 8 seconds short of my goal. Now that hurts. I spent the entire trip home wondering were I could have made up that 8 seconds. Damn that "Hanging Nut Sac".
This was my second time coming down for the Ouachita Challenge. Last year I decided to start racing in more long distance events like the OC. After each one I said I was going to stick with short distance events, but I aways seem to sign up for another. Already looking forward to next years event.
2007 Haro Mary Single Speed 18' with stock rigid fork.
Gear ratio: 2 to 1 , 48.7 (32 x 19 w/175 crankarms)
Tires: Maxxis Ignitors, tubless with Stans.
Wheels: Chris King hubs with Stans ZTR Arch rim.
Brakes: Avid BB5's
Bars, seat post, stem, seat : Team issued Ritchey Logic.
Here is YouTube video from overall winner Jeff Kerkove. His teammate, Sonya Looney won the female overall title.