The day started early at 5 AM for breakfast at the Country Pantry enroute to the race venue. My parents and I feasted on a wide range of "go-fast" foods including eggs, pancakes, coffee, and taters. It was everything I need to get things started off on the right foot.
We arrived at the venue at shortly after 6 AM and quickly got things organized in and around the pit. Once set up, it was just a matter of staying loose and watching to see who the competition would be.
As for me, I keep things on the down-low be lounging around and keeping the water coming into my system.
By shortly after 7 AM it was time to gear up to get down. I went through my normal routine, warmup, and figured out my pre-race strategy. By the time it was 8 AM and the race was ready to start, I had eyed up the comp. There were about 10 of us riding solo. There were about 4 of us on hand that had a shot at winning this event. My goal was to start hard, to simulate what Nationals will be like. As with all my enduro events, I try to lap the field then do damage control. It forces me to go hard and attack.
The race start was good for me. At the gun, I was quickly out front pushing the pace with 2 team riders. The course at this venues has it all...long climbs, open grass sections, and tight single track. The first few laps were a bit sketchy, as the pace was fast, and the course was super tight. I would go hard then have to get on the brakes to make the sharp corners in the singletrack. It was a lot of stop and go for the first half of the course. As the laps went on, I finally got into the groove of the course. The laps became smoother, and the time of the laps leveled off to my pace for the event. My average lap times for the 6.3 mile course we sitting right around 35 minutes or so.
Lap after lap I would catch some of the solo 12 hour riders. After about 5 hours of racing, I had lapped the entire solo field accept for Lee Unwin who was having an excellent ride. About every lap I would make about a 10-20 second stop for nutrition. As with all my enduro's I was eatting and drinking mostly Hammer Products with a combination of of Clif Bars, Balance Bars, and Power Bars. After the short stops it was back to the trail. My legs felt really good during the event. Most of the time I found myself catching and passing some of the 3 and six hour racers, and in some cases, pacing off them. This help to pass the time and to keep pushing me.
Finally, after about 9 or so hours of racing I came up behind Lee Unwin who was in 2nd place. Once he saw me he threw down a good acceleration and got time on me again. I knew that that Lee would have to make up 35 or so minutes in order to catch back up to my lap. This would be impossible to achieve in the time remaining in the event...unless I had equipment or body problems. Since I knew Lee was close to me, I dropped my pace a bit and just turned out the laps till the show was over. I came in form my last lap at around 7:30 PM with the 3rd win of the year, and the 3rd time I have won at this venue!
Top 3 Solo Results...
1. Jeff Kerkove - CatEye Enduro
2. Lee Unwin - Unwin Chiropractic & Wellness Center
3. Mike Howard - Bushwhackers / Sun Rims
Here are the stats from my CatEye Microwireless computer...
Time: 11 hrs, 22 min, 16 sec.
Distance: 127.08 miles
Average Speed: 11.1 mph
Max Speed: 29.4 mph
I sound like a broken record when I say this, but I got through the entire 12 hours without having to use the backup bike. I messed around with different shock settings for this event, and I think I have found my set up for Nationals. Also, good brakes were a much needed item for this course with all the start and stoping. The Hayes El Camino's worked like a charm giving me all kinds of braking options. Whether it be power braking, or modulated braking, I had the option during the event.
Now it's time to gear up for National's at the end of July. Racing might be done till then. But I am still thinking pretty hard about heading to the next WEMSeries event at Blue Mound and racing the 6 hour instead of the 12. I just need to listen to my body, and the decision will be pretty easy.