It was perfect course conditions and great weather. A bit hot in the afternoon while climbing but otherwise the temps were ok. This was my first time doing the race and I didn’t quite know what to expect.
I went down with 4 people and camped at the site. It was a great venue and except for a few wackadoos that kept me up a bit longer than I wanted, the camp was pretty quiet the night before the race
The race starts off fast. Fire road climbing and singletrack descents for the first 60 miles. Most of the singletrack descents were pretty rocky and rough. Very enjoyable trails and technical in some spots with some pretty gnarly rock gardens. Some of the most technical areas had spectators to cheer you on over ladder bridges and through the rock gardens, buoying the spirit a bit.
I got to the third checkpoint at 4:45 race time. I was originally shooting for 9 hours and I felt that I was pretty well on target at that point
After the third checkpoint all bets were off, as the next 15 miles consisted of a brutal singletrack climb and more punishing singletrack descents. I crashed once at about mile 67-70ish. Coming over a ridge the trail got real steep with a turn at the bottom. I was carrying too much speed and wasn’t going to make the turn at the bottom. I bailed off the bike and did a few rolls on the rocky trails. I was scraped and bruised but ok and the bike was fine. After a quick inventory check and refocus, I was right back to the business of more punishing descending.
For me, the last 25 miles of the race was all about just keeping the pedals turning over. It was hot at this point and you just want it to end. There were a few rock garden sections at the end of the race that were pretty tough. Even more tough than usual because by now, my upper body was beaten to a pulp by the rocks and I didn’t have enough strength left to finesse the bike through like I did earlier in the race. Each rock felt like a hand grabbing my front wheel and pushing my bike backwards. Luckily the last 5 or six miles was on gravel roads and trails.
Seeing the camp site appear at the end of the ride was about the greatest thing I have ever seen. I finished in 9:20 which placed me 58th overall out of 243 finishers. I think there were about 45 more who DNF’d.
I was pretty lucky as the only mechanicals I had were minor and the only permanent damage I did was to destroy 2 sides of my eggbeater pedal on a rock early in the race.
Seeing the times from the top pros at this race remind me that they are not regular human beings. They are completely unbelievable.