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Ouachita Challenge




There are many ways to describe a great race: Hard, Epic, Wow, torturous, beautiful, painful, and so on…… This race was all this together.

There are 2 versions. A 60 mile and an 80 mile route that differ a lot. The 80 mile that I did was close to 70 miles of wicked single track and started with 2 miles and finished with 8 miles on gravel roads and a touch of pavement. The 60 is 40 single track and 20 miles road/ gravel section. Well, needless to say I did some homework talked to last years winner Scott Henry got the scope on course etc. Except he didn’t know they cut the course 10 miles short and skipped the 2nd hardest climb on the course( 30 minutes of just tough single track climbing that rolled and rolled). So I had prepared for about 6 hrs as I start this Epic day. That definitely wasn’t enough!

The raced started with 60 & 80 mile riders together. So it was hard to judge who to go with etc. So I just stayed near the front. Looking around seeing who was there. Cameron Chambers, Garth Posser, Kip Biese, and Team Ergon was there. I didn’t know how everyone was riding and knew I would struggle with the distance. However, as the single track came up I grabbed the front of the race and set the pace. Quickly the race broke apart. Ergon was there with 60 and 80 mile rider, me, Kip and Raymond Hall who was doing the 60 were out in front. Then at mile 6 I slice the side wall of my tire….Sh*T….D*a* ….. Needless to say I was not happy. This early into a long race and I am already putting a tub in with a gel wrapper to hold the sidewall together. This could be a long day! Well as I am trying to navigate through riders, I mean lots of riders I am thinking up my stadegy to get back to the front. With a hole in my rear tire I was going to have to pin it up every climb and take it easy down all the downhills and for people that know me this is hard to do! So I focus picking of riders watching for any and every rock that could cause any more problems. Mile 20 I catch Stew Stafford who is doing the 60 and ended up 5th. He said I was probably 6 or 7 in the 80 miler. Then check point 1 came up and he hit the road and I hit more trail. 6 minutes back…what 6 minutes. I am like how? So I keep my head down, slowly I start to see a rider ahead. A Texas boy PACC rider was rolling. He said he was 5th, and he stuck to my wheel we were carving the single track I opened a 30 sec or so gap on him that I lost as we came to the next open section which I doubled back on where I couldn’t find any taping etc. We roll up to the next turn at about mile 40 and they say 6 minutes again…..I didn’t make up any time? I am hoping they are wrong.

Half way 3hrs…, atleast I think. Then the race starts getting really hard, steep climbs, more technical single track, and I am starting to dyhydrate. Up and over the next mtn. to a checkpoint. They say 2 min to the next rider, 5 min. to the leader. Finally, I make up some time. The course continues to go up and down, long single track climb after another. Followed by switch back decents and stream crossings. I catch Garth Posser on a switch back downhill, and he says 1.5 min to the next guy. At this point I am getting pumped up, but trying not to blow up at the same time. I am just staying steady and about an hr later I catch 2nd and 3rd, kip and the ergon rider. They seem to have lost their attack and I roll by neither of them trying to stay with me. Now I am in 2nd, 2 min. down. I am pushing it now. Fighting cramps, diggging deep, hoping 1st is hurting as much. I am out of water, it seems like it’s been hrs and hrs since the last check point. Finally, I see a gate…water?…nope….only to see another marshall pointing me up the next mtn saying 5 miles to the next check point. At this point, I am fighting whole leg cramps, stoping and using trees to get short 5 sec breaks. I see a rider! But, it’s only the back of the 60 mile race, I guess we merged courses at the last marshall. I am begging for water…then a rider says yes I have some…I latch onto the camelback and drink till I can’t breath. Then back in pursuit, I am now catching lots of traffic making it hard to stay focused, until I see I rider who looked like Cameron Chambers through some steep switch backs. I am marching on the pedals for all I am worth. It’s him! I take the lead as we hit a downhill to water station! 20 miles to go, I grab a bottle a water and fill up with cytomax. Looking back watching for Cameron, I am going for what I am worth. It seems like this race is never going to end. The trails are so sweet, but I just want to be done. Finally, I see a dirt road and a course marshall. 8.5 miles to go all on dirt roads. I keep looking back not to see anyone. After 80 miles and 10,000 ft. of climbing I WIN! WOW….
I couldn’t believe i battle back to win the race. Garth was 2nd 4 min back and Cameron was 3rd 9 min back.

I have a pic from mile 65 where I look like I am about to die. Then a pic of my rear wheel with the gel wrapper sticking out of the side wall. Then a sweet pic of my Lanza 21.9 lb 29er dirty.

Also, I had my 2nd set of Scrub rotors on( 90 grams for the pair) to test them in the nasty conditions and the worked flawlessly.

2 comments to Ouachita Challenge

  • Larry

    Over the mountain and thru the woods, a little mud, a scrub rotor (whatever that is) makes for a great cyclist; and face it you are one. Congrats! And best of luck to you.

  • HalleyTheComet

    bryan! you’re alive? where are you? what are you doing? besides biking… how’s life? come back to the wv and let’s go out riding!

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