Bone Bender 6hr is in the books. Monday morning and I am becoming acquainted with the various aches and pains of the long race on the trails. All-in-all the race went well: had good power, decent endurance and the skills seemed to be working. A good season opener.
Rode the Scott Genius 20, mostly with the 150mm f/r suspension fully engaged. I locked the rear out a couple of times early on while riding on the pavement. I stopped doing this after I would forget to open it back up on the trail. Also ran a new set of Maxxis Crossmark 2.1 UST tires at 27/29 psi (f/r). This year I am also riding Scott's Team Issue MTB shoes. All my equipment worked great today and I had no issues.
Here's my recollection of how things went down. Some of the timing or laps may be off, but it should mostly be accurate.
For starters, the conditions were hard to beat. The trail was in great shape, the weather was just right, and lots of people showed up for some good-time racing. Over 200 toed the line for the LeMans start. We ran a short loop on the grass and beach before grabbing the bikes and heading on to the 11.5 mile loop. I started on the second row on the very inside (the run was a short counterclockwise loop). I was a little worried about getting pinched in the first corner but things went fine. I probably hit the end of the run between 5th and 10th, however, I had awesome bike placement and was 3rd on my bike behind Tige Lamb and Doug Stone. Things started to sort out after the first short singletrack section on the first bike path section. Tige was still in the lead with a small gap, Cameron (Duo 6) moved past me, as did Kent McNeill (Solo 3) and Mark Studnicki (Solo 3). A little later on the first lap I let another another 3hr rider by so he could contest the race with his competition.
I trailed this group for the first lap holding a fairly steady gap. I think Tige and Mark faded back to me later in the lap. So at the end of one lap, I was sitting behind one 6 hr duo team and two 3hr solo riders. I later learned I was about 2:30 up on 6hr solo competitors Kip Biese and Matt Gersib. About one-quarter of the way through the second lap Jon Schottler (Solo 3) caught up to me. I let him by and he and the 2nd place 3hr rider (I am pretty sure he was from Iowa or Nebraska) were riding together a little ways in front of me. I think this is how things stayed through lap 2 and about half of lap 3. And apparently I was about 6 minutes up on Gersib after 2 laps.
On the 3rd lap, I rode up to Schottler and the other 3hr rider. About halfway through that lap, the other rider looked to be fading and Schlotter accelerated on one of the bike path sections. I stayed with him and we rode away. Schottler was pushing the pace and I had no interest in passing him. Later, somewhere in the last quarter of the lap Schottler got caught up on a tree and ended up letting me by. I kept the pace steady and we continued to work through traffic. I think I must have put a little gap on him (probably because of lapped traffic) because I came into the start of the 4th lap by myself (although Jon was probably right behind me). At this point I was apparently 4-5 minutes down on Cameron & Travis, with Kent McNeill somewhere in between.
Laps 3 and 4 had a lot of traffic to work through. This is always a tough situation and its impossible to not have some issues passing riders. That said, I think the vast majority of passes were pleasant for all involved. I apologize to any riders who's flow got messed up as a result of my passing.
Laps 4-6 were more of the same, just keeping the pace steady and keeping fueled. Jeremy came out and did an awesome job up handing up bottles and food throughout the race. It was definitely a luxury to not have to stop and refuel.
Jeremy's pit assistant Atticus, however, didn't seem to have a firm grasp on his assigned duties.
Starting lap 7 fatigue was definitely setting in. At that point, I guess I was about 30 minutes up on Gersib. As it turns out he finished his 6th lap a few minutes before 4:00pm, but didn't go out for a 7th lap. I was happy to have a sizeable gap and have the luxury of taking it down a notch. I tried to keep it steady and rolled through the lap about one minute slower than my previous lap.
In retrospect, the race "went" different than my two 6-hour races last year. Here, I felt really strong and comfortable through most of the race, but felt pretty tired on the last lap. Last year I felt like I was suffering more throughout, but didn't feel as tired at the end. Who knows though, maybe that's just the memories fading.
The Ethos boys had a good day: Travis & Cameron took the 6hr Duo Class with Travis getting the fastest lap too. Garet Steinmetz got the win in the 3hr Singlespeed category.
(photos by Lantern Rouge and J. Pych)