Well I should probably do a recap while it’s still fresh in my head. Last year I only had 2 hours sleep before the race. I was able to double that and get 4 hours this year. I actually felt like I slept plenty and was feeling pretty good. We had some rain the day before and was a little worried about some of the dirt roads that is only about 5 to 10 miles into the race after what happened year, I also still had a game plan of taking it easy the first leg and stay consistent the whole race and take short rest stops. Right before the start I moved back a little bit so I wouldn’t be holding up anyone wanting to go fast at the beginning I was probably still about half to 3/4 the way up. The race started and while still on pavement just focused on not tangling up with any other riders. We quickly hit the gravel and I felt like I had a pretty mild pace but soon I was passing a quite a few people and I wasn’t really expecting that. I soon caught up to friend and teammate Scott O’mara we stuck together and when we got to the dirt roads luckily they were a little soft but not too bad. I felt a lot less worried now and we had a good pace. Soon after we found one of the very front groups got slightly off course and was coming back towards us so we were in a good spot. Not too long after that about 15 miles in on a climb my chain came off and fell on the inside between my wheel and cassette we stopped I got it back on in less then a min Scott stopped and made sure I was ok and we back off again. At this point Randy Smith and Garret Seacat some other teamates that were actually ahead but got off course caught back up. The chain coming off may of been a blessing atleast this first time because shortly after the group I was in went down in a wreck I would of been caught up in it. Luckily no one was seriously hurt. So we keep going and later climb texaco hill which is a cat 5 climb which is about 30 ish miles in , I was still keeping a decent pace but was feeling good on the climb. Rebecca Rusch came up and passed me which surprised me because I thought she would of been way ahead but she must of got off course earlier too. There defiantly was some times where I was probably going a little harder then I wanted but sometimes you had to or you wouldn’t be in a draft. Not too much farther in my chain started popping off again more frequently I figured I would try to adjust my limit screw on my rear derailur a little then double check it at the checkpoint. Well I accidently went the wrong direction which made it worse and it came off again and this time got wedged somewhere to cause the wheel to lock up. I was lucky enough I got it out and got back moving again but now my chain was skipping. I was starting to lose a lot of time now and decided to go ahead and adjust my limit screw again Garret was with me at this point still and realized my mistake and we got it corrected now and was no longer popping off but was still skipping. I was not sure at first what was causing it or what I had damaged, I tried adjusting tension with no luck, but as I got closer to the check point I thought it could be a sticking link. We got into the check point and although I lost a lot of time from the chain I was still ahead of my planned time. As I was looking my chain over I did find the link was stuck but it was from being bent probably when it locked my wheel up. Some friends tried to help get the link out and put a link from a used chain on, then we used a spare master link I had with to connect it but was having trouble getting it on. Long story short link shot out into the grass and had a heck of a time trying to find it. Finally it was ready to go but had lost another 1 hour and 15 min now at the checkpoint. I was frustrated to say the least watching several other people come and leave and lose all that time. Luckily my good friend and one of my training partners getting ready for the DK Shawn O’mara came in and said he was going to stay until the bike was ready and we road off together.
When we first took off my legs felt like crap from sitting that long he pulled for me and then I started to warm back up and felt a little better and we started picking up the pace but legs still didn’t feel great. Luckily Shawn did a lot of pulling for me and we were making good time and he helped me mentally get back in the game. I did get a tire puncture on my rear and was thinking great lady luck just isn’t on my side today. Luckily it sealed within a min or so and we were back going again. We pulled into checkpoint 2 and people were surprised we had made up as much ground as we had so were doing good. We stopped and tried not too take too long , changed clothes in to fresh dry ones and refueled. We were back off. A few miles in we caught up to our good friends Bobby Wintle and Mike Wise they were in good spirits and we chatted breifly.The day had been really great cool weather ( well for DK weather anyways) and we thought it was not going to get any warmer. Well it did and although not horrible it was getting a lot warmer now. It was kinda funny because last year the beginning was much hotter but now that we were on the third leg last year a cold front moved in and we got rained on it was then much cooler then it was this year. About half way in was probably the worst I felt for the day but just had to suck it up and keep going. We passed were I had to walk in mud for 2 hours last year and was very thankful it was dry. About 20 miles left we stopped briefly and ate rested our sore butt and feet for a couple min while we eat some food then got back on. The next 20 miles seemed like it took forever. And about 10 miles out we were on a low maint road and there was a drop off with some broken concrete chunks I about wiped out on that, luckily saved it. That woke me back up. Rolling in the council grove was a great feeling. We got our final map and only 37 miles left. We got refueled. I really didn’t want to stay there long as I was ready to get this done. Shawn took a little longer then me getting ready , but no big deal. I defiantly wasn’t going to leave him after all he did for me. We got going and was probably about 8pm at this point. I was actually feeling the best I had in a while , the temps were dropping and it was a nice night. Once it hit dark though It was a little nerve racking. My headlight doesn’t work very well and goes in and out on bumps… yeah I should of got a new one lol, yeah not one of my best decisions. I had really wanted to get in before dark and convinced myself I didn’t need to worry about it ( I probably would of if not for the chain issues) Anyways I had to concentrate , luckily at one point we came up to someone with a light brighter then a car and I rode his wheel a good chunk of it which helped. When got right before town you hop on the pavement for the last mile or so and it was a great feeling. I felt a lot better then I did the year before at this point. We came into the finish line around 10:30pm to lots of people at the finish line (most of them drunk) I hugged a lot of my friends and some people I didn’t know 😉
I stayed for a while and watched some other friends come in. It sure was a relief to be done and to get home and relax. I really need to think my wife Renee’ and nephew Kyler for doing my support at the stops. I also need to thank Shawn for helping out on the ride after my chain issues. My friends Matt and Stephanie Brown of High Gear for all they do for me.And of course have to thank God for helping get through it all. I think the gravel is my church because that is when I do the most praying 😉
I took 3 days off from the bike and actually just did a hour tonight and felt pretty good. Looking foward to next year.