He said it was cool with him if I wanted to start riding bikes with gears. Actually, I wasn't at all surprised that god made an appearance at the 2010 edition of the Rapture in Misery 6/12 hour. The trails are awesome, and awesomely technical.
After spending the night in St. Joe, Anne and I arrived to a steamy venue as the the morning sun cut through us. It was going to be a long day of racing from noon to six. I've only attempted one other 6 hour solo race and that ended at about three and a half hours. I hoped today would be different. Looking around on the start line and the only guys I recognized were Aaron Elwell and Jeff Winkler, two really fast guys. The plan, pace off of them and see what happens.
Pics from JP Brocket
As the horn blew I got a decent run to the bike and slotted in about 7th or 8th wheel. The double track prairie start made it pretty easy to move up and I entered the most technical piece of singletrack, the boneyard, in 5th wheel. The pace was comfortable and nobody was trying anything crazy this early. As we crossed the dam and started the first big climb of the lap I had no choice but to keep my gear turning and push by taking the lead. So there I was, up front, no idea what was coming up, just spinning along in my 34x21. Aaron and another guy from a two man team would eventually join me as the team rider took the lead. Aaron and I proceeded to chat about the latest word from Leadville content to sit on the wheel.
At the end of the first lap I pulled into the pit to grab a bottle as I chose only to run with a single bottle. This let Aaron get about a 30 second gap on me. No problem, five plus hours to go right? By the mid-point of the 2nd lap, Aaron was coming back into sight and as we started the last switchback climb to end the lap I was back on.
Second time through the pit and Megan was ready for me. Bottle in hand. Awesome surprise. I had her toss me a dry pair of gloves and as I rolled out of the start/finish area I caught Aaron as he pitted too. Back into the lead. Then disaster struck. As I hit the most technical section in the Boneyard I punctured my rear tire. This was my first 29er tubeless flat in competition and I almost didn't know what to do. I had my wheel half off by the time Aaron rolled by and was just climbing back on the bike when Ryan Feagan came by. I was keeping an eye on the trail and didn't think anyone else came by which meant either Ryan was sitting in third or I just missed Winkler. Turned out Ryan was indeed in 3rd and now him and I were riding for 2nd place.
Ryan selflessly let me by and I went about chasing down Aaron. In hindsight, probably a bad idea. For by the end of the third lap I was only one minute off, not bad for having had to fix a flat. However lap four would start to see me break down. The constant jarring of the rocking trail was taking it's toll on my arms and back. I started to take precautionary measures and began walking the climbs. At the end of 4 laps I took a big break. Drank some peach mango coconut water, doused my body and wiped down with ice water, basically tried to refresh myself. I rolled out of the pit and through the checkpoint, now a minute thirty behind second place rider Travis Donn. I thought, minute and a half, I can get that back. Not so much. Across the prairie and every bump shook like an earthquake through my kidneys. By half lap I knew this was going to be it. The hands felt like they were beginning to blister, my back was cramping as I tugged at the handlebars and all leg speed was gone. Instead of gaining back that minute and a half, I lost another two and a half. Once again my 6 hour event turned into a four and a half hour.
As the minutes ticked by I watched as my third place ultimately turned into a 5th by the end of the day. I managed some consolation by posting fastest lap on lap 2, a 46:41. Mike Miles killed it, coming in as the best Nebraska finisher taking 2nd in the under 29 group. Ryan topped me taking 4th in the 30-39. Rafal finished 7th, missing 6th by just a minute and a half and a Nebraska 4, 5, 6 sweep. Anne stomped out another great Crowder race finishing 3rd in solo female. Trek KC and Omaha native Ben Perkins rocked in an awesome 2nd place finish in the solo 12 hour. Ryan Cech and Brandon Harpster battled a couple flats to take 4th in the 12 hour duo, losing the final podium spot on the last lap, not bad for two guys who've never ridden at night before.
It was, as always, a super fun weekend of racing and camping. I'm really looking forward to the 5-O.