The week before the race was filled with typical activities like buying junk food from Trader Joe's and planning bottles. To add to the fun, my buddy Zoll needed a support crew too, so we threw him into the mix and hoped he wouldn't freak the first time Jeff played the Quark Song. The boys and I met up at our favorite commuter lot and loaded the Sona van for some Ozark gravel crushing. On the way to the Lake, we ate a lot of Mexican food and visited Jeff's boyhood home, where we picked up Leonard. Carrie was traveling for work and was giving us reports of seriously delayed flights. Oh dear. But she had a game plan which involved driving through the night with three teenage girls to make it to the hotel just about the time we would be waking up to begin our race morning routines. Woman on a mission, she is.
Race check-in was at Oz Cycles and instead of packets, Bonk Hard greeted us with OGRE-approved burlap bags. Seriously the cutest things ever. We saw a route overview posted on the wall, but Gary mentioned that we might have some detours due to high water. Duly noted. We had pizza for dinner at Shawnee Bluff Winery...and honestly it wasn't that great. But it was calories and we left feeling stuffed. Then we went back to Tan-Tar-A for pre-race meeting (short-n-sweet) and gear-sorting (longer). Carrie and the girls arrived right on time, and they crashed into bed while Leonard drove us four racers to the start line at Big Surf Waterpark. I was a little slow getting all my crap together before the start, but managed with about 30 seconds left and was ready to take whatever the OGRE threw at me and Jeff.
LEG 1 (50 miles)
|Don't think I know any of these riders but check out that sunrise!!! Beautiful day to be on a bike!
|Profile for Leg #1. Somehow the mind-bending climb into Pit Stop #1 is not showing.
|Hill into Pit Stop #1.
|We made it!! I release Jeff's tow as we arrive at Pit Stop #1.
|Me and Jeff rolling out of Pit Stop #1
|Back, back, back it up!!!
|Profile for Leg #2
|Jeff riding into Pit Stop #2.
|Zoll into Pit Stop #2.
|Me into Pit Stop #2. I love my bike.
I've finally ditched my knee warmers, and the day has warmed up into absolutely perfect temperatures for riding. Again, Jeff and I focus on constant forward progress at a steady pace...no sprinting, keep eating, keep peeing, it's all good. We've encountered low water crossings all day, but I think it's here where we have the longest one, about 20 feet wide. And, there's a car parked in the middle. Ummm...what? We notice there are two people standing outside the car. At first we think it's stalled, but then we notice they have buckets. And they are pouring creek water on the car. No big deal...it's just an Ozark car wash. People, you absolutely cannot see these things unless you are riding gravel. GETCHASUM.
|Profile for Leg #3.
We ride into Pit Stop #3 and we get great news - David is still ahead of us and feeling good, despite going off course for a few miles. Zoll has regrouped and ridden out of Pit Stop #2 in a superior state of mind. And now we only have 26 miles left of this beastly ride! Carrie and Leonard have some fries from the gas station and I stuff a bunch in my mouth as I'm swapping bottles...they are goooooood. Peat is there too and cheers us on with a traffic cone. Jeff and I are totally ready to get 'er done!
LEG 4 (26 miles)
|Profile for Leg #4.
There are still a couple monster hills to be climbed, and I am patting myself on the back for the Warbird's smart gearing. Even at the end of a 13-hour day, my legs can still push a 28/36 so we ride everything. Jeff's tow helps too, although I'm trying to only use it on the well-packed climbs. It's not as beneficial on the looser gravel so there's no reason to unnecessarily fatigue my awesome teammate there. We enjoy a really nice, long downhill into the last check point, CP#7, which is manned by another really cool guy. He spots our numbers from way out and then waves us through onto a short section of private-property doubletrack. This is awesome! We get a little bit of bike-handling practice and then a very steep "run-up" which of course we walk. Then it's only 2.5 miles of pavement back to the finish line at Oz Cycles. We hear the signature Bonk Hard cowbells from the bottom of the hill and are really excited to finish as the first team and in 17th place overall! What a great day!
Jeff and I are really happy with how our day unfolded. We never pushed the pace, just rode steady and smart all day long, kept eating, kept drinking, and kept peeing (trust me, we had a lot of pee breaks...but at least they were synchronized!). We worked as a team to keep each other happy and moving forward. Our bikes were perfect with no mechanicals and no flats. The course was marked extremely well (apart from only one tampered sign), and combined with our cue sheets/maps we stayed on course all day. General consensus on course data seems to be 154 miles and about 12,000 feet of climb. Our crew was INCREDIBLE - special thanks to Carrie and Leonard for being prepared and sooooo helpful at all of the Pit Stops. Bonk Hard Racing and Oz Cycles again put on a first-class event, and I can't wait for next year!!
|Jeff, Leonard, Carrie, and me at the finish line. Oh yeah!!!