Man this is a real mountain bike race. I think in 50 miles I touched a little over 1 mile of gravel or road which 3/4 of that came in the opening climb separating the field out nicely. Aaron Elwell and I slotted in up front with all the previous winners which got the front row call ups. I knew I wanted to be near the front as the climb started so no one pulled away before I figured it out. I definitely was getting funny looks as I lined up on the front row. It's sure nice still being unknown. It was a neutral roll out until the hill then we where off. As the climb started I was surprised that no one really took off or I didn't think so. I was just plugging away and went in the woods in the 3rd slot. I didn't want to over do it I knew it was a long race. I told myself race the race your style and let it happen don't force it.
About a month ago Jesse and I went down a round the course it's 50 miles of continuous single track. I recorded splits at the check point to just see what I could kind of average.
So as I came to the first check point I was still in 3rd but was 6 minutes faster than my time split so I knew I was going pretty good. I felt good but I seem to have an issue cramping lately so was taking four endurolites at each check point and I had some liquid stuff between to keep them at bay.
There was a quick 25 minute loop back to that check point and the another 50 minutes or so before check point 2. During that time I think we were on the blue section of trail which is the most technical area. I pulled up to the guy that was in 2nd and asked him how far Aaron was up he said 5 minutes or so. I cruised behind him for a bit and then went by durning a climb and didn't see him again. I had been climbing strong all day. I switched bottles and grabbed some more endurolites and keep moving. My pit crew Corbin said I was with in 2 minutes from Aaron and was pulling him in.
Heading out on the 3rd leg the big climbs where ahead. I knew I just needed to manage them and not go to hard the key to this race is the last 13 mile loop. So as the climbs started so did some cramping in the legs my hopes to continue to pull Aaron is diminished and damage control was in progress. I knew there were some fast dudes behind me coming and needed to just keep from full on lock up. So my quick change of plans was to chug up the majority of the climbs and any steep step ups just pop off walk it and jump back on. The managing worked no full on lock ups and I pulled into the last check point still in 2nd. I knew I had lost some time but that's the way it goes. On longer races your racing yourself and your abilities not just other racers. You blow to pieces your done.
Well it's gut check time and as I'm leaving the check point I see Chris Renshaw coming in, the race for 2nd in my mind would be on. Did I save enough for this final leg or was I going to fall to pieces. It was serious gut check! Time to make this trail buttery smooth and do some flossing. Well I pulled through and things went as planned I cruised the the last leg and finished up 2nd. Aaron won by by 10 minutes and set a new course record at 4:18 I finished 30 seconds shy of the old record at 4:29 not that that matter much but I was happy with my finish. I'm starting to figure out the longer races that's my third one.
Another awesome finish was Jason Knight another fellow Ethonian pulled in a strong 3rd place. He passed 3 people in the last hour to capture the final podium spot. Jesse Gross in the single speed division did some crushing him self pulling in 2nd!