I did this race last year...and was able to win the 6 hour. Going back this year I knew what it would take to do it again. I started things off right by setting up my pit right off course. Since I was here alone I was going to have to lay out all of my nutrition on my table then swing by and pick stuff up each lap. The lap rate here is about 1 hour for 8 miles. So, I filled up 8 bottles to play it safe.
All I had to do each lap was grab one section....and a bottle....then I was off on my way. At 1:00 the race was on. It started with about a 100 yard run. During the run, I felt my CO2 fall out of my pocket. I took a risk and left it. I was about the 4thsingletrack. The lead riders continued to ride in the front as I sat back for a bit. Part way through the 1st lap I made my move. I moved to the front, and started to gap the field. Then about 3 miles into the 1st lap........Pssssssssssssssssssss. The rear tire went flat. Since I lost my CO2 I had no way to fill it. So, I started to run the 5 miles left in the loop to pit area. After about 10-15 minutes of running and walking, Lee Unwin stopped and gave me a CO2 to use. As I stood in the woods changing the flat everything became soaked in sweat. My gloves were wet....and sweat was running into my eyes. The race day temps of close to 100 degrees were doing a good number.
I got the flat changed and went on my way. At the end of the first lap I am not sure what place I was in....but it was close to dead last. I pulled into my pit before lap 2 and changed gloves, aired up the rear tire some more, and downed my scheduled nutrition. Then it was off on lap 2. Lap 2 was uneventful. I did my lap, and made up a few places. I was in total XC mode taking a risk of blowing up before the end of the 6 hours.
I finished lap 2 feeling good and making up places. On lap 3 I headed out taking on more liquid because of the rising temps. Half way thru the 3rd lap I went to clear a log that dropped into what look like a dry creek bed. I cleaned it....but my front tire slid out from under me on the landing. I happened so fast that my left knee and forearm took most of the impact to the rocks. I also managed to jam my middle finger on the right hand went I put it out to break my fall.
It hurt like hell....and the blood was running. I hopped back on the bike and kept going. After about 1 mile of riding the knee felt OK and I was good-to-go for the remainder of the event. I finished out this lap and stopped at the pit for a bottle and Red Bull. As I sat there taking in my nutrition I was told by the guys from Twin Six that the 1st and 2nd place guys were about 5 minutes up. I went into TT mode. Soon I caught the 2nd place rider. Then towards the last few miles of the lap I caught the 1st place rider. I passed him....and no words were exchanged. I think both of us were deep into the pain cave. Once I passed the now 2nd place rider, I up'd my pace. I finished my 4th lap now in 1st place. All I had to do know was maintain a fast pace and keep the tires inflated.
Blood, blood everywhere!
My favorite magical racing slippers got all chewed up by the rocks from running with my flat tire on the first lap. What a bummer.
I left on my 5th and final lap. I went hard, cause I didn't know if I would have to change another flat....or another issue would arise. I did my lap with no issues. I came into the pit area at the end and looked at the clock. I had time to do 1 more lap.....but it was not needed, as the 2nd place guy was doing longer than 1 hour laps. So I called it a day and ended up in 1st place....but not with a little drama to keep things in perspective. After the event....I had the onsite medical people clean and bandage my knee. As I type this, it is stiff and sore. And I have a nice little limp. It's all good. A small price to pay when pushing the limits to get what you want.