Upon minutes after arriving I was made aware by Skip that I had my work cut out for me. Apparently he'd spied Dejay Birtch and John Mylne cruising around on their Niners. Since leaving the race circuit almost a decade ago I haven't kept up much on the national race scene. Unknown to me, Dejay is a national singlespeed 24 hour champ, John is no slouch himself, and then just to make the weekend even tougher, 2007 5-O SS champ Henry Horrocks was here too. A top heavy field to say the least.
Saturday morning came and we made our ritual journey to Common Grounds for coffee and breakfast bagels. It soon came time to suit up and spin the legs out. We decided to ride the stick of the lollipop as the course is a out and back with a loop. Legs felt good, crossed paths with Hurl and Kelly Mac and a few others. Everyone did the campground chill out thing in the afternoon and then back to Common Grounds for registration. Had planned on people watching until registration opened but when we arrived that were letting people sign up. Bingo, beat the crowds. Race attendance was up by 100 peeps from 2008 making for a full 400 on the line.
Morning came early with a 5:30 alarm. Had to get up and back over to Common Grounds for breakfast. Those guys opened early for us, totally kick ass.
As we rolled over to the start line it was packed already and I backed it in behind last years winner Kelly McGelky. Smokey the bear was giving high fives and at 7:30 he dropped his paws and we were off. I caught glimpses of Mylne in front of me and it wasn't long unitl Lucas passed me with Horrocks in tow. DSM boys Kent Carlson and Jed Gammell came by as well. The pace seemed faster than previous years so I opted to just chill out and ride conservative.
As we entered the singletrack I darted to the front of my group so I didn't get slowed down by the geared guys going to granny. I soon began picking guys off and did manage to catch a glimpse of Lucas which would be the last time I'd see him all day. At the top of the climb I was feeling good and as we passed through checkpoint #1 I saw Kent pull over, one down.
For the next 10 miles I was back and forth with the same 4 guys until we got up to the canyon rim. I got on the back of a 3 man train that would gap me a bit on the climbs and flats but I would pull them back on the descents. We were moving pretty good, and I would have my only (short lived) battle of the day. We had pulled back Henry from his earlier minute advantage and I got the pass on him through a rocky hike a bike section before checkpoint #2. I was worried he'd pass me back as I knew he had a support crew and I'd have to get off the bike and re-fill the bottles. The guys at the checkpoint were awesome as they grabbed my bottles and helped me fill up. Just as they were screwing on my second bottle top Henry came through, slowing to grab his bottles. I sprinted off and did my full speed CX remount to get back in front of him and pedaled off hard knowing that the next long descent could make or break the last half of my race. The downhill swung the tables in my direction as I wouldn't see him again.
Now I was nervous, I'd got the shout out from Jason Kingsbury that I was 4th SS. This gave me new life but left me extra cautious over the jagged rocks that occasionally littered the later half. Then it happened, cramp, and earlier than I've ever cramped before, mile 27, 23 to go, really? A quick off the bike stretch and then I remounted and did my best forward tri position to change my muscle use. I did a bit more out of saddle pedaling, downed more Marga shot blocks with water and although I felt the occasional twinge of a cramp they never came back.
My excitement of a podium finish made me skip the bacon station for the first year but 30 minutes later when I rolled in for a 5th place finish was a fair trade. Four hours fifteen minutes, 19th overall, 31 minutes faster than 2008. So fast that my time would have won every previous year, so yeah, the field was stacked at the front end. Lucas did an amazing ride to finish 4th, seven minutes faster than me. John Mylne won it, the first SS'er to go under four hours. Dejay Birtch rolled in second and Colin McKernan third. I will say I'm pretty stoked to have finished behind these guys as all four of them are quality riders. They'll definitely elevate me for next year.
Post race fun ensued with many many 1554's and local micro brews. Was well and passed out by eight o'clock. Livin' the dream at the 5-O.
Up next...SSWC DURANGO!!! Hittin' the road in seven days to kill it one gear at a time.
More pics of the weekend on Flickr.