The Start. The race started with a loooong lemans start and prologue to break things up before all of the singletrack (which was 95% of the course). I came off of the run in 3rd behind Mark "T-bone's husband" Walter and another solo dude. Through the transition I moved up and was on Mark's wheel. Through the prologue on onto the 1st lap.
First Lap. The first lap was a little eventful. I rode along with Randy McVean who is a very strong rider I knew from La Crosse. He was taking a shot at 12 hours solo and that scared me as we were riding 1st and 2nd in solo. Following him over a log my rear wheel came down odd. My tubeless set up burped out a bunch of air. After a minute of digging out a CO2 and filling the tire with more air I was off. In the time loss I was now in 4th right behind 2nd and 3rd (Chris Schotz). When we got to the open hill at the half way point Chris came around 2nd and I came around both of them. I set off trying to establish a gap, but soon came across Randy and his bike that was falling apart. 1st lap down and I was in 1st with a 45 second gap. Cool.
Making money out on the course. Laps after this were fairly uneventful except for the hill climb. You see, on one of the major uphills there were 2 widely spaced apart log crossings. The first crossing was close to 2 feet high, the second about 1 1/2 feet. They gave you a $5 bill every time you cleared them (but only when the music from the boom box was playing). On my 2nd lap they were jamming and I set off to try what I thought was going to be way too difficult. Luckily I cleared them that lap, and the 3rd, and the 4th, and the 10th. I was 4 for 4 when they were paying out. Almost made back my full entry fee in just those damn logs!
Monkeys. Another race within a race that the boys and girls from La Crosse had cooked up was the monkey count. There were inflatable monkeys on the course of different sizes. First to correctly come up with the correct number (29) won a Bontrager Carbon crankset. My guesses never went passed 19.
Lap after lap. Turning over laps my goal was to get a gap, hold it, and never use the granny gear (that part was psychological). Check, check, and check. My baby's momma was letting me know the gap as it grew, it never seemed to go down, and I was still climbing in my middle ring (not that the rpm's were always the greatest). There is a ton of climbing on that course and after 6 hours it really is tough.
Ending. Towards the end I knew I had at least 30 minutes on 2nd. I headed out for my 13th lap and final lap. That had to be my slowest lap as I knew I had no fear of getting caught and no motivation to work hard, but I got it done. Called it a day just before the 11 hour mark. Even though there was time for a 14th lap, Chris in second was not going to be able to get me. Sat down and ate some pizza and joked with the guys that I knew from La Crosse.
The pit crew. My baby's momma and did a stellar job (again) of getting me hooked up with the nutrition and support I needed. Bottles, fruit, water, wipe downs, and time gaps were all handled with aplomb. While I ate she loaded the car. What a woman. I think I will keeep her around for awhile longer.
The race itself. This has got to be one of the best races I have attended. Awesome course. Great people. Monkey count. Hill climbs that earn you money. Beer, soda, pizza, brats, hot dogs, chips, and tunes were all provided by the crew from La Crosse. Just a ton of fun for the riders and support during and after. THANK YOU LACROSSE VELO!!!
The loot. I came away with $25 in hill climb cash (they gave me $10 the first time as I was the first to complete it), a very nice Saris hitch rack (anyone interested as I already have one?), the coolest trophy I have EVER gotten, a sweet Salsa apron as a door prize, and a bunch of Hammer product that was given out. I made out like a bandit.
Coming in from the leman's start.
Finishing a lap. And then....
...starting the next lap.
Mouth full of delicious pizza. Can you tell what Nina would like?
Some of the boys from La Crosse. Left to right. Kevin, Kaveh, Nate, Tostin, and yours truly.
The pit crew. My baby's momma, Becky, and Nate's soon to be baby's momma, Kati.
Getting paid yo! Dan on the far left of the pic and Erik next to him were instrumental in making this race awesome.
Wearing the apron and talking to Kevin about when he is going to buy me the Dilly Bar he now owes me.