Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 Ouachita Challenge race recap

This weekend mountain bikers from all over the country descended upon tiny Oden, AR (population 212) for the 9th annual Ouachita Challenge; a 60+ mile race over some of the most technical terrain Arkansas has to offer.  It is an epic event drawing many pro racers like Jeff Kerkove, "Fuzzy" John Mylne and Garth Prosser.

I almost wasn't one of the lucky 250+ riders toeing the line because I waited until after 8am the day registration opened to sign up and by then all the available spots were taken.  But I put my name on the waiting list and luckily I was able to purchase a couple spots from a guy named Barry that wasn't able to make the race.

On Saturday Jared, Jessie, Cory, Lori and I made the 5 hour drive from Springfield to Oden.  When we arrived we set up the pop-up camper in the church parking lot across from the start/finish area, picked up our race registration packets and ate a pretty good spaghetti dinner supplied by the event organizers in the Oden elementary school cafeteria.

The Ouachita Challenge has the race on Sunday, but they also have a non-competitive tour ride over the race course for 275 entrants on Saturday.  So while we were eating dinner most of the tour riders were in the cafeteria eating spaghetti after their long day on the trails.  We talked to a few people including Luke Kuschmaeder of Kuat racks, and they all had very positive things to say about the condition of the course.  All the good vibes were making me more and more excited about the race. 

At 6 o'clock the race organizers did a raffle for 3 bike frames, a top of the line Kuat rack, some ergon grips and a couple free vacation stays at a nearby resort.  Cory won one of the vacation packages and I won a badass E.M.D 9 Niner frame.

After the festivities we hit the sack pretty early with an alarm set for 5am.  I actually slept pretty well in the pop-up and woke up before the alarm anxious to get started.

When we walked over to the cafeteria for breakfast we were the first riders there but the event staff were on top of things getting set up and already had lots of strong coffee on tap.  I paired the coffee with my usual pre-race meal of oatmeal mixed with peanut butter and after a large bowl headed back to the camper to prep my bike and mix my bottles of perpetuem+endurolytes.  I drank one of the bottles during the last hour leading up to the race.  The plan was for Lori to support us by getting our various hydration/nutrition supplies to each of the 4 aid stations along the race loop. 

The temperature was a little chilly but I didn't want to wear any unnecessary bulk, so I settled on my bib shorts, my Revolution Cycles Racing Team jersey, a long sleeve Nike base layer shirt, regular gloves and thin socks.  I put 2 tubes, a patch kit, 2 large CO2 canisters, and a gel flask with Hammer Gel in my jersey pockets and headed over to the starting line where a large group of riders were gathering.  

It was a pretty intimidating group.  Going into the race I had a goal of a top 20 finish, but seeing the riders crowding the front made me start to question it.  They all had "the look" of elite racers and that little voice in the back of my head was telling me I didn't have a chance.  Luckily I rarely listen to that voice.

After a short speech by one of the organizers, he lead us out to the course at 8am on a recumbent bike.  Our instructions were not to pass him until the course turned to a gravel road a mile or so away.  Riding in the a pack of 250+ riders on the 2 lane road was wild.  We were pretty much coasting and people were jockeying for position trying to be near the front.  When we made the turn to the gravel road the pace picked up quite a bit and we were riding 5 or 6 wide repeatedly passing and being passed by the same people.  After a couple miles there were a few hill climbs and a group started to separate from the main pack.  I hung on and was near the back of the lead pack when we finally hit the trail.

The guy right in front of me was wearing a WSU jersey and I made a vow to myself that I was not going to let him beat me (go bears).  It's funny how the mind works during a race.  I didn't know how many people were in front of us but we were riding a pretty good pace in a group of about 6 riders with the WSU guy leading us.  Unfortunately he had a few issues when the terrain got a little technical and was slowing us down from time to time.  The best line I heard all day was from a guy behind me that yelled "I'm from Iowa and I can ride this shit!".  After that comment I pulled over and let the Iowa guy and the others pass and stayed with the WSU guy.  Then a mile or so later I passed the WSU fellow and not long after caught the Iowa guy riding slowly up a hill and passed him as well.

The trail was so much fun.  At times I was worried that I was going too fast but I felt really good and I was passing people so I went with it.  A little later I was riding with a couple guys and one of them endoed right in front of me; he never even clipped out of his petals.  As I was riding by he jumped up cussing at himself.  He passed me while going downhill not long after.  Then when he was crawling up the next hill the other guy with us said "Man, if you could climb like you descend, you'd win this thing".  We then passed him and I never saw him again.  At one point I was passed while climbing a hill by Fuzzy John, then later passed him back as he was fixing a flat on the side of the trail.  I saw so many people fixing flats.

When I got to the first aid station there were tons of people standing around and as I pulled in they all started pointing towards Lori; it was awesome.  I was able to pull up, hand her my empty bottle, take the full one and head out.  It was perfect.  Then came Blowout mountain.

Blowout mountain was crazy.  The climbs weren't that bad.  My legs felt good and I was riding strong, but there were rock gardens unlike anything I've ever seen.  There was no way I could ride them.  I'm talking about 20 to 30 foot sections of picking up my bike and trying to cross boulder strewn sections and not falling on my ass.  On one of those sections I must have moved the cleat on my left shoe because I had trouble clipping that foot in the rest of the day.  I caught up to one guy on Blowout that I'd overheard at the starting line saying that this was his first time on singletrack this year.  He was like 6'5" and looked really fit but I swear he would jump off his bike like 6 feet before any rocky section.  Watching him was making me really nervous that I was even attempting to ride over some of them.

I finally made it to the aid station after Blowout mountain and since we'd planned for Lori to skip that one and meet us at the next check-point I blew right on through it.  Then I started climbing what people were calling Suck mountain.  It wasn't a technical climb but it was steep and it was long.  I passed lots of people walking up the hill which really surprised me.  It wasn't an easy climb but it was doable.  I was a little worried I was expending too much energy but I didn't want to walk.  At the top I started riding with a 918XC rider out of Oklahoma.  We talked quite a bit and he was pretty pissed off.   Apparently he was riding really well in 3rd, then got 2 flats and was now feeling wasted.  He then left me and pulled away.  I guess my idea of wasted is a little different.

At the next check-point I got another full bottle from Lori and one of the race officials said I was in 15th place.  That shocked me; I had no idea where I was in relation to the other riders but I told myself I just had to keep from being passed by 5 people and I'd make my top 20.  After that checkpoint we had a pretty long gravel road section and I could see a rider about a hundred yards ahead of me.  I tried as hard as I could to catch him on that road.  I was tucked in like I was on a road bike and I was riding as hard as I could.  I couldn't catch him but I didn't let him get away.  At the end of the road I got another bottle from Lori and turned onto the singletrack again.  After a few minutes I caught up to my rabbit and he was one of the Ergon riders.  I asked him if he was feeling good and when he said yes I told him I'd like to work together.  We rode for a while, up on a really cool bluff overlooking Ouachita Lake.  Then on a flat section I was feeling really good and I passed him figuring he would ride my wheel for awhile, but he didn't.  When we pulled out on 27 and crossed a bridge over the lake he was back pretty far and I could see 3 riders ahead of me.  At that point I was in 14th and started thinking about a top 10.  I was able to catch the 3 riders and pass them on a hill climb when we got back on the trail.  They were going pretty slow and didn't seem to mind me going by and all of a sudden I was in 11th.   Then I caught back up to the 918XC rider and after riding his wheel for a bit passed him and another rider and put myself in 9th.  That was a great feeling.  I finished that section of trail and came to another gravel road section.  I was able to catch and pass another rider which put me in 8th.   That road section was tough.  There was a heavy head wind and I was starting to feel some fatigue in my legs.  I pushed myself as hard as I could and when I got to the final aid station I couldn't see Lori.  My bottle was empty and for some reason I didn't stop and get water.  I just kept going and got on the trail.  There was only 15 or so miles left and I didn't want anyone to catch me.

The next 10 miles were hell.  There were only a couple climbs but they were the hardest of the day; I felt like I was crawling and it was all I could do to turn the cranks.  I didn't have any water and was sweating pretty hard.  I tried drinking my hammer gel but it was so thick it didn't help.  At one point at the top of a climb I looked back and saw a rider in the distance.  It gave me a bit more motivation and after a really fun descent I came out on a road where the volunteers directing traffic had water.  I was SOOOO happy to see them.  They filled my water bottle and told me it was only 4 miles to the finish so I took off.  I was kind of taking it easy because I was dead tired and was thinking I had 8th in the bag.  Then I looked over my shoulder and saw a rider behind me.  Crap, I was going to have to keep racing.  I tucked down and gave it everything I had, then looked over my shoulder and saw he was gaining on me.  It wasn't long until he passed me and it was the Ergon rider that I had rode with earlier.  As soon as he passed me he slowed down and was riding about 15 feet in front of me.  When we made the final turn onto 88 there was a short hill climb to the finish.  I decided I was going to sprint to the finish and pass him.  My sprint lasted about 3 seconds and my legs gave out; that was all I had.  I finished in 9th, a few seconds from 8th, for a total ride time of 5 hours, 15 minutes and 44 seconds.  My Garmin (which I forgot to stop at the finish) said the total distance was 64.7 miles and included 5,906 ft of elevation gain. Here's the link to my Garmin data.  For the most part I felt pretty good.  I couldn't feel my toes but everything else was fine.  My race preparations were spot on and the perpetuem+endurolytes were perfect.  Aside from missing that last bottle, I never bonked and didn't have any cramps like I had at the Spa City 6 hour.  I'm definitely going to stick with that combo for my endurance events.  I am so happy with the way my bike performed and I know I wouldn't have done nearly as well on a different one.  I love my Epic!

I haven't seen the final results but I'm pretty sure the winner finished with a 4:45 time.

While I was standing around at the finish line the 918XC guy came up to me and apologized for being so "negative" during the race.  He said he felt bad about it.  I understood.  After awhile I headed to the gym for a shower and saw Cory.  He made it to the 2nd checkpoint before dropping out.  This was his first mountain bike race and he did really well for not knowing what he was getting himself into.

The showers were hot and even though my feet turned a strange purple color the feeling returned.  Once I cleaned up Cory and I started packing the pop-up and Lori came by saying she got a call that Jessie was at the last checkpoint; he'd missed the cutoff by 3 minutes and needed to be picked up.  So we climbed in the truck and drove out to get him.  She kept apologizing about missing me at the last aid station, and must have missed me by minutes, but she was such a HUGE help to me all day there was no reason to apologize.  If I'd had my wits about me I would have stopped and filled my bottle when I didn't see her.

When we got to Jessie he was bummed that he didn't get to complete the race but he was pretty exhausted and glad his race was over.  He had a few mechanical issues during the day and the course took it's toll on him, but he made it 50 miles in his first endurance event on one of the toughest race courses he'll ever see.  He did really well.

After we got back to Oden we found Jared; he'd finished the race while we were gone.  It was his first endurance mountain bike race and his goal going in was to finish.  He did a great job and was very glad Jessie talked him out of bringing his single-speed.

Then we packed up, headed out and stopped at Outback in Ft. Smith so I could have a steak dinner.  Man, that was a good steak.

Thanks to Lori for all the help and thanks to the event organizers and all the MANY volunteers for putting on such a wonderful event and building such fun trails.  I did much better than I expected and if I can get a spot I'll be back for 2011!

UPDATE:  Results have been posted.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

UFD Leadbelt XC race recap

Sunday was the inaugural event in the United Federation of Dirt mountain bike race series.  It was the Leadbelt XC and took place at St. Joe state park in Park Hills MO.

I've been looking forward to this race for awhile.  My first Expert level race on my new bike and I was excited to find out what would happen.  I made the trip to the race with Jessie, Brett and Lori, leaving Springfield around 6:30.  Lori races in the Woman's Beginner class which has a start time of 10am.  We pulled in at 9:50, but Lori is used to that. 

When we arrived I found out my Revolution Cycles Racing teammate Zdenek was racing in the Marathon class.  I expected to be racing against him and wasn't disappointed I was wrong.  There weren't many people there yet but I did talk to a few folks I met at the 2009 MWFTCS events.

The weather was less than optimal for mountain bike racing.  It was cold and wet.  It wasn't really raining, but there was a mist in the air that sometimes turned to sprinkles.  I was having a hard time deciding what to wear.  I wanted to stay warm but I also wanted to stay light.  I erred on the side of light after I saw Chris Plock and Bob Arnold of DRJ Racing pull into the parking lot.  They are in my class and they are both really fast.  Eventually more people started pulling into the parking lot and while the field was not going to be massive, it looked like there would be a respectable number of racers.

As the beginner riders started finishing the race my heart sank.  They were a complete mess and were talking about how muddy the course was.  Slogging in the mud wasn't the kind of race I was looking forward to; but we had driven 3.5 hours to get there and I was going to race no matter what.

At the starting line I found out there were only 4 people in my Expert 30-39 class; me, Chris, Bob and Wes Biermann.  There were 6 Expert 19-29 riders and 1 Expert 40+.  They started the youngsters first and a minute later let the 30+ crowd go.  After a short bit of asphalt we hit the singletrack and I was in 4th with Chris, Bob and Wes in front of me.  Immediately the ride became difficult because of the mud.  I was having to fight it to maintain speed and keep the bike upright.  After a mile or so Chris and Bob started to gap Wes and I.  Then we started catching up with the younger experts.  Wes and I passed a couple of them together, then I made a move to pass Wes and went out on my own.  I could tell he was fighting the mud as much as I was and I imagine he was more concerned with not wrecking than what I was doing.

I was able to catch and pass the rest of the 20-29 group on the first lap and started to catch up with Bob.  I got within probably a hundred feet or so when he saw me and he sped up and pulled away again.  The laps were 8 miles long with the last half mile or so on a paved greenways trail.  The paved section ran parallel to trail dirt portion of the start of the lap so as you were finishing you could see how far ahead the people were in front of you and vice versa when starting the lap you could see who was behind.

It's hard to put into words what riding in those conditions was like.  I was tense the entire time because I was having to fight to maintain both traction and momentum while not wrecking.  The hills took a lot of energy and there wasn't much relief on the flats and descents.   It was just a lot harder than it should have been.  I don't know what my time was on the first lap but I was in 3rd behind Chris and Bob.  The second lap I never saw anyone.  Then about 4 miles in my rear tire went flat.  I was in the section where you cross a creek several times and I just rolled the tire and burped out all the air.  I only had about 19lbs in the back tire so there wasn't much air to lose.  Luckily the tire stayed on the rim and I was able to air it up with a CO2 canister.  The only problem was I emptied the canister and it was the only one I was carrying.  I had another one I meant to put in my jersey pocket, but forgot it before the race.  That meant if I got another flat I'd be SOL.  The rest of the lap I just rode as hard as I could, trying not to roll the rear tire and hoping that the organizers were going to stop me and say they'd made it a 2 lap race.  As I was riding in on the paved trail I saw Chris and Bob going out again and knew I had one more lap.

On the third lap I rode pretty cautiously.  I passed a few lapped riders but my brakes were pretty much shot from the mud.   I figured I had 3rd place wrapped up because barring a mechanical I wasn't going to catch Bob or Chris.  Then when I got to the river bottoms where I had flatted the previous lap I was riding very carefully and noticed I had a rider behind me; one of the 19-29 guys.  I sped up and lost him only to have him catch back up to me later.  I sped up again and lost him for a few miles.  Then with only 3 or so miles to go I saw him again on a hill climb.  That time I took off and rode as hard as I could to the finish.  I was somehow able to put 3 minutes on him in that time.

When I finished I was covered in mud, couldn't feel my toes and felt exhausted.  I ended up in 3rd overall about 9 minutes behind Chris and 3 minutes behind Bob.  I was happy with the results but not happy with how I got them.  The entire race felt like work and while I'm sure those trails are a blast in good conditions, they were no fun for me on that day.

I haven't been able to find any photos from the race but if I do I'll update this post with a link.

Here's a picture of my medal:

Here and here are the official results.  Zdenek finished 2nd in the Marathon, Lori won the Woman's beginner, Brett finished 3rd in Sport 19-29 and Jesse unfortunately DNF'd because of a mechanical. 

My next race is the Ouachita Challenge in Oden AR on the 28th.  It's a 60 mile race and I'm really looking forward to it.  I just hope its warm and dry.  I did receive a package yesterday that will allow me to more accurately report on my racing:
It's a Garmin Edge 500 and I can't wait to start playing with it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Story of Little Sac

I'm kind of a history buff and a little while back, while tooling around on the mountain bike trails at Sac River north of Springfield I started thinking about the history of the place; what came before the sweet singletrack that we modern humans have bestowed upon the land.

After extensive research I've been able to put together the following stream of people and events.

In the Ozarks, long before the white man came along with their fancy 2 wheeled contraptions they called bikes, the land was inhabited by Indians.  Not the people from India, it was just a coincidence that people on opposite ends of the earth had the same names.  It truly is a small world.  Anyway, these Indians were often divided up not by states or counties or even municipalities, but by Tribes.  A tribe was a group of folks that liked to hang out together, a bit like a modern day gang, and usually a tribe had what they called a Turf.  This was where they pitched a tent (or TeePee as they called them) and spent most of their time.

Most of these Tribes had a name and the Tribes that lived in and around what we now call Springfield were the Kickapoo, Cherokee and Pershing Tribes.  Not many of them remain but they have been memorialized by having Springfield schools named after them.

A family belonging to the Pershing tribe lived along a river just off highway 13; they went by the name Sac.  It was an Indian custom to name your family after something meaningful and while their spelling differed slightly from the European standards of the day a Sac was a bag (often made of burlap or deerskin) that the Indians used to carry groceries home from the farmers market (a tradition dating back to pre-historic times).

Now what the Indians couldn't grow to take to the farmers market they often hunted for.  You see the Ozarks was a bountiful land and the area was teeming with wild birds and animals.  If one was good with a bow and arrow they could make a fortune selling meat and hides at the market.   The only problem was that bows and arrows were expensive and if you couldn't afford to buy them at Bass Pro they had to be made by hand; the Indians hadn't developed trading with the pacific rim for cheap knockoffs just yet.  And the hardest part to make on a bow and arrow was the tip of the arrow, often made of rock; called an arrowhead.  People spent years making a single arrowhead and if they missed the animal or bird they were shooting at the arrow was sometimes lost.

In the Sac family the kids were tasked with making the arrowheads which they grew to hate because the elder Sac was a horrible shot and would sometimes loose 5 or 6 arrows on a single outing.  One day, while chipping away at rocks one of the kids had a brainstorm; why not have nature do the work for them.  Why can't they GROW arrowheads.

This intrepid youngster then made his life's work developing and fine tuning a natural arrowhead.  He cross-bread rose bushes with trees and planted them all over the land by the river.  This boys name was Little Sac and he invented the Thorn.

Unfortunately the story does not end well for Little Sac.  You see, the traditional arrowhead had been around for a really long time and there was a large establishment in place that had a lot to lose if people could just grow their own arrowheads.   The official record lists Little Sac's cause of death as an accidental drowning but I think you can come to your own conclusions about what really happened.  In any event the river was named in his honor.  His last known statement was that he wished that no horses or motorized vehicles (called iron horses back then) be allowed to traverse the land his family called home.  He would rather that trails be built that could be used for health and enjoyment for all generations to come.

Little Sac's story isn't all sad however; while the arrowhead establishment did everything in their power to exterminate the thorn tree, legend has it that if you ride your bike around modern day Little Sac, when you get home you just might find one of his inventions stuck in your tire.  His dream lives on.

One finger braking

Most of my thought involving my mountain bike revolves around how I can go faster.  But last night I had a break-through (pun-intended); how I can stop more effectively.

I've always been a two finger braker.  I've read about the benefits and tried to use just one finger but unfortunately I was born with stubby digits and always felt unnatural (and a little rude) using just the middle finger to stop my bike.  My index finger just wouldn't comfortably reach the lever so even though there were times I felt I would have better control leaving 3 fingers on the bar I've erred on the side of being able to stop.

Then last night while fiddling with my bike I realized that the levers on my SRAM XX brakes are adjustable.  The contact point (the distance the lever moves while contracting the brakes) is adjustable as well.  Which means you can move the lever a long way from the bars and have more leverage as you squeeze or you can move the lever right next to the bar and adjust the pad where the brakes will still fully contract.  Awesome!

So I flipped the shifters on my matchmaker xx brackets to the outside and moved the brake assembly in about an inch.  I then adjusted the reach where my index finger could comfortably get to it and the contact pad where the brakes would contract with a 1/2 inch pull.

I tested the setup riding around the neighborhood and it feels great; I can't wait to try it on the trails.

Yay for adjust-ability!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2010 Spa City 6 hour race recap

Saturday was the first race of the year for the AMBCS; the Spa City 6 hour mountain bike race at Cedar Glades park in Hot Springs Arkansas.  It was also the second event on the USA Cycling US Mountain Bike National Ultra-Endurance Calendar.  I didn't have any idea what to expect heading into this race since I'd never ridden the course and didn't know who I'd be competing against, but I'd been training really hard and hoped for a top 10 finish.

I made the trip to Hot Springs with Jesse and Brett who were signed up for the 2 man team competition.  We arrived at the race site around 6pm Friday evening after an uneventful 5 hour drive from Springfield.   We picked up our registration packets, set up Jessie's pop-up camper and headed into town looking for our pre-race dinner.  I wanted pasta so we picked the first Italian restaurant that didn't look super expensive and ended up at Rocky's Corner.  We all had spaghetti and it was pretty good.  I've had good luck when I've eaten huge meals the evening before a race and Rocky's allowed me to test the theory once more.

When we got back to the race site the temperature had dropped considerably so we made a campfire and met a few of the other early arrivals.  It looked like there were only 5 or 6 other groups camping on site that night.  Everyone was really looking forward to the race.  When the fire died out we turned in for the night.  Unfortunately we couldn't get the heater working in the pop-up, but I still slept pretty well considering the below freezing temperatures.

I woke up early Saturday morning to a bright clear sky with no noticeable wind.  It was still pretty chilly but I knew it was going to be a beautify day.  As people started arriving for the race I set up Brett's propane camp stove and made my other pre-race staple; oatmeal with peanut butter and coffee.  I then mixed 6 bottles of Hammer Perpetuem and started carrying our stuff to the pop up tent we set up next to the race course:
With the sunlight I was able to check out the park a bit more and there were some pretty cool features.  There was a bike wash station next to the flush bathrooms, a big tree house like thing with cat-walks, an outdoor climbing wall, a BMX track, an RC track and a small amphitheater. 

The race started at 10 am with a LeMans style 200 yard run to the bikes.  In my last 6 hour race I jogged the start and had a horrible first lap having to stop and go as the riders bunched up on the turns.  For this race I sprinted and was among the first riders to the bikes.  I had a little trouble clipping in when I got to the bike and that allowed a group of riders to get in front of me but I was still in a good position with only 15-20 riders ahead of me.  The race course was approximately 10 miles long and the goal was to do as many laps as possible in 6.5 hours.  My first lap went really well.  I felt great and was able to pass about 10 riders.  For awhile I rode behind the 2009 Leadville overall female winner, Rebecca Rusch.  She had an Arkansas rider directly behind her calling out the upcoming terrain; I thought that was pretty cool.  On one of the climbs about 7 miles into the lap I felt like I could handle a better pace so I passed them and continued on my own.  My time for the lap was 54 minutes.  If I could maintain that pace I would be able to do 7 laps.

The second lap was my fastest of the day at 53:29.  I was feeling really good, enjoying the trail and loving my new bike.  The trails at cedar glades park are really nice with lots of switchbacks and many of the turns are banked.  The hill climbs are generally short and sweet and there are lots of natural obstacles to keep things fun.  There was one really long straight downhill section that was my favorite part of the course.  It followed a switchback hill climb and lead to a really fun banked turn switchback section.  It was a thrilling ride.

On my third lap my legs were beginning to cramp when I pushed it going up the hills and this slowed me down a bit.  The perpetum was working really well since I wasn't tired at all and my time for the third lap was 56:50.

At the start of the fourth lap I grabbed a banana to help with the cramping and continued to ride as hard as I could.  It was really nice that I wasn't experiencing the lower back or shoulder pain I usually experience in the longer races, but the cramping was keeping me from going any faster on the climbs.  It was like I was right on the verge of seizing up.  I was in pain but it was a manageable pain.  I was lucky the hills were as short as they were.  I was lapping many riders and could never tell if I was moving up in the overall standings but I was still loving the downhills and doing as well on the climbs as possible.  My time for the fourth lap was 59:32.

The fifth lap was the worst of the day.  My legs were cramping horribly, even on flat ground.  Then I realized that it felt like I was riding a BMX bike;  my seat had sunk about 4 inches so my legs were never fully extending.  I tried to ride standing up as much as possible, but the entire time I was just trying to get back to the pop-up tent so I could grab an allen wrench and raise my seat.  Luckily nobody behind me caught up to me that lap and my time was 1:03:39 (includes time taken to adjust my seat).

On the sixth lap I felt like a new man.  Since I hadn't maintained the 55 minute laps I was shooting for I knew that 7 laps was not possible so I wanted to do as well as possible on my final lap.  I still had some minor cramps on the steeper climbs but nothing like the previous lap.  I really enjoyed the final lap and I rode it with a time of 1:00:49 for a total ride time of 5:48:19.  I was passed on that lap for the first time of the day; it was by the race leader who was lapping me.

There were 6 people that were able to do 7 laps and if I hadn't been cramping I think I could have also, but I am happy since I finished 9th overall and 1st in the 30-39 age group.  There were 78 male solo riders.

Male order of finish
Age Group breakdown

All racing pictures in this post are taken from the following pages:

Jesse and Brett didn't have as much good luck as I did.  Jessie rode the first lap and was sitting in second place among the 2 person teams when he passed the baton to Brett.  Brett had 3 flats that lap and took about 2 and a half hours to complete the lap.  After Jesse's next lap Brett headed back out and not only had another flat but also had a nice wreck while showing off for the photographer.  They finished last...... 

After the awards ceremony we packed up our stuff and headed back to Springfield.  We stopped at Coltons in Little Rock for a good steak dinner and arrived back in town a little after 1am.  The bikes were a bit dirty, but it was a great time and I'm glad I made the trip.  I need to figure out a way to prevent the cramps I experienced during the race, but if I keep improving in my training I think I'll have a successful racing season this summer.
More Pictures from the parks facebook page.
Nice article about the event's pros.