Ouachita Challenge Weekend



Two weekends ago was a whirlwind of amazing experiences, challenging rides, pleasant surprises, and minor disappointments. So much happened, but I’ll stick to the highlights and try to tell as much of the story with pictures.

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It all took place just outside Hot Springs, Arkansas.

TheOuachita Challenge Course Map Ouachita Challenge. The 1st day was a 60 mile mountain bike tour. The 2nd day was a race on the same kick ass trails. The plan was to ride easy and have a chill day with the guys from SweatBloodDirt.com for the tour on Saturday. Then throw down at Sunday’s race.

 

 Saturday

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Adam, Craig, and I ready for a long fun day in the saddle.

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I wanted to make sure everyone knew who I was.

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The Blues Brothers showing us the way. I had that song “Soul Man” stuck in my head for the next 2 hours.

All smile at aid station #2

All smiles at aid station #2

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Water crossing number… 6?7?8? of 20?21?

Just over 7 hours later, the 2 wheeled fun had come to and end for day 1. Made a bunch of new friends, rode some sweet trails, and set a new personal record for number of pickles consumed in one ride. A great raffle and pasta dinner kept us busy before we laid down to rest for another night of sleep in the school gymnasium. Holy cow, mountain bikers can snore loud!

Sunday

Ouachita Challenge

The race began with a neutral start (we roll out together, but don’t actually start racing until a few miles in), which was nice for me because the body was a little sore from the day before. Just before we had our first water crossing, it was go time. The lead vehicle pulled out of the way and the pace picked up.

As I have said in previous blogs, I know I’m not the strongest rider on straight, flat dirt roads. So for 3 miles or so, I sat in the pack and hung on. But once we turned off the road and onto the single track, I was pleasantly surprised. I slightly eased off the pace that we had going on the road (when I say eased off the pace, I mean we went from REALLY F*#KING HARD, to slightly less F*#KING HARD), but becuase of the rocks, roots, twists, and turns, that pace was somehow to fast for the rest of the riders I was with. I quickly moved up to 3rd and was bearing down on the 2 in front of me.

 Leading the Ouachita ChallengeBy the half way point, I had nearly a 4 minute lead over the rest of the field. I felt fantastic and if you had asked me if I could hold that effort and win the race I would have shouted back a big “HELL YES!” with a big smile on my face. I had followed my nutrition plan (Powerbar Gel’s and Perform sports drink) to the T, but around mile 40 all of that changed in the blink of an eye. As if someone had flipped a switch, the wheels completely feel off. In just a matter of minutes I went from king of the world, to drooling dunce. I struggled to the final aid station, and proceeded to down a couple of cokes and an entire package of cookies in about 5 minutes. With a woozie head, I hopped back on the bike, pushed when I could, and came across the line in 10th place in a time of 5:01:44.

Holding on for 10thWhy did that fantastic bonk happen? How could I hit the wall so hard? (And mind you, I see the following reason as a lesson learned the hard way, not an excuse). Well, as tough as I think I am, there is a limit to what my body can handle. 7 hours in the saddle the day before really drained my body of it’s precious fat stores and by not replenishing those properly after the race, when I emptied the tank on Sunday, IT WAS EMPTY! Nothing left to fall back on.

At the end of the day, I would actually say that I was very, very happy with my race. Why? Becuase like my coach says all the time “You can’t fake good.” Had I not ridden the day before, or actually eaten like I should have, the pace that I had early in the race would have continued and I would have picked up the W. You can’t fake that type of fitness. That has me quite excited for my next few mountain bike races coming up.

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Helping out with a little post ride announcing.

 

Huge HUGE thanks to Craig Roberson for setting all of this up for me. Adam and Kurt for transportation to and from the race and giving me a bed before and after the race. It’s trips like this that remind me that I’m doing what I love and that there is so much fun to be had out there.


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