The race itself was composed of gravel roads, a few dirt double track trails and some nicely paved roads. There is a lot of steep hill climbing on the 72 mile course, over 7000 feet of it. The interesting mix of riding surfaces, steep climbing and fast gravel descents is what makes this race so hard and what makes choosing the right bike for the job so important at this race. Using a cross bike on the fast road sections and for all the climbing makes a lot of sense, but using a mtb to make the descending less tricky and to guarantee fewer mechanical issues is a wise decision also.
|My Mamasita "Hybrid" 29er.|
|Salsa Vaya Ti|
It seemed as if after every hard climb or fast and gravel covered descent, another rider would disappear from the lead group. Eventually, by around mile 30 or so, the lead group was down to 4 riders: Garth Prosser, Adam Driscoll, Todd Latocha and me. On the climbs between check point 2 and 3, there were times where I felt like I might be the next rider to fall from the lead pack. I was starting to experience leg cramps and was having difficultly matching the pace being set by the others when climbing. I almost never have cramps during a race and I was kind of confused why it was happening to me at this race. I was eating, drinking and doing things like usual, but my legs were not cooperating with what I needed them to do. Eventually, I found that if I climbed in a harder gear rather than spinning up the climb in an easier gear my legs did not cramp. So, for the remainder of the race, I rode the climbs like a single speed racer and muscled up them rather than trying to conserve energy by spinning.