Going into the OC race I knew what was in front of me. I had raced this course in the opposite direction 2 previous times. Now, the question was what would the 60 mile field do? Who would launch off the front? Who would be the dark horse? Would there be cat and mouse games?
The race went off at 8 AM. The 60 mile racers and 80 mile racers all started together and were designated by blue and yellow number plates. All I needed to do for the duration of my race was keep an eye on the blue plates. The gun went off and we rolled down a county paved road. Riding in the top 10 at the front I kept myself out of trouble. Off the pavement we got on to a gravel climb which would take us to a longer, steeper, and rockier climb. I knew I had to be one of the top guys to this climb to keep from getting stuck in slower rider traffic. I hit the climb in roughly 5th place and sat back a while to see what pace would be set. Strong riders surrounding me included Cameron Chambers, Sloane Anderson, Garth Prosser, and Raymond Hall. After some brief climbing, 4 guys pushed the pace and got ahead of the main pack. The were dangling about 50 yards in front of us. My legs were feeling super and light, so I took off after them.....caught them.....and just kept going. I soon found my self alone off the front. I was the first into the single track...and held that lead until the road. Through the road section I kept my pace until I saw a group of chasers behind me. In the group were two 80 mile racers and one 60 mile racer. Riders were Raymond Hall (60 miler), and Yuki Saito and Kip Biese (80 milers). We worked together up the gravel climb to the next section of singletrack. Here Kip pushed the pace pretty hard. He had me and Raymond on the edge a few times. I looked back to find Yuki back off the pace....which was smart since he would be out for 80 miles.
After a lengthy jaunt of singletrack, we hit aid station 1. At this point the 80 milers went one direction, and the us 60 mile guys went another. I only had one guy to work with at this point.....Raymond Hall, a past winner of this race. We left aid station 1 with a 5 minute lead over the next group of 60 mile races according to a race volunteer. I took off down the road with Raymond in tow. We chatted a bit and Raymond was asking to work together for as long as possible. I'm cool with that.....so I settled into a pull and rode on. Raymond pulled through....and then I pulled through. Then it was Raymond's turn to pull through and he didn't. I looked back to see him about 100 yards back. I kept my pace and pushed on. Soon, I found myself alone with nothing in sight be the road and Arkansas country side. It would be this way for the next 40 miles until I finished.
Any chance I had, I used my strength on the bike and pushed the efforts on the road. Here I made some time any chasers. At about the 30 mile mark I started to cramp a bit in both legs on the inner thigh. Even with the 1.5 bottles per hour and ELETE tablets in combination with the gels....I was still cramping a bit. This forced me to slow a bit and spin a higher rpm up the climbs instead of a comfy tempo. With the onset of cramps coming on I chugged a bottle of Cytomax and more ELETE tablets. With in 10-15 minutes of riding I was back to normal....cramp free.
The remaining miles were filled with rocky climbs and descents, and some slow moist sections of dirt. Made the tires feel like they were flat at times. It was all about keeping a smart pace and not getting crazy. When it got sketchy on Blowout Mountain I chose to run instead of risking destroying a tire or other bike part.
After about 4 hours and 30 minutes of racing I emptied out onto the final dirt road for 8-9 mile push to the finish line. When I would crest a hill I would look back to see if I could se anyone.....and never did. I crossed the line at 4 hours and 50 minutes. Good enough for 1st place overall in the 60 mile race.
Chatting with 2nd place finisher, Noah Singer. Noah finished about 6 minutes back.
During the race I drank eight 24 oz bottles of either water or Cytomax. I also took in 12 ELETE tablets and 12 Power Gels. My HR was well at this elevation around 900 ft. I was able to push out between 155-175. If I did hit over the red line I was able to recover really fast.
My bike made it through the event with no issues what so ever. I am glad I switched out to the 100mm Magura fork and added the Continental tires with the Protection sidewalls. Flats were the order of the day for many many people.