Last weekend Katie and I headed to Arkansas for my first race of the season. The plan was to go down early Saturday, pre-ride a little, then head to the motel to watch the Cats play. This part of the plan worked nicely, we arrived at the motel about 2 minutes before tipoff. Then watched a very bad game. Oh well. After the game we went of the to local Italian joint for some carb loading and then to bed.
Sunday morning we headed over to Oden for the start. I initially lined up about 2/3 of the way to the back of the field, thinking there would be plenty of time to move up (5 hours). Shortly before the start I decided I didnt want to have to do this, so I snuck into the front row. The race started on pavement and then turned to gravel for about 30 minutes. I stayed close to the front while trying not to get out of the draft. At the top of the last climb before the singletrack I looked back to see no one in sight. I was at the back of a group of 6 or 7. Two guys immediatlely took off but I wasnt too worried as I was on the wheel of last years winner. After following him around for quite awhile I got by on a climb and managed to get a pretty good gap. Then he (Jeff Kerkove) and Noah Singer teamed up to catch me on a gravel section. I would get away again in the next section of singletrack, only to be caught by Kerkove on gravel again. We rode together on the Womble for awhile before I took up the pacemaking and found myself alone. Somewhere in the last hour I passed one of the leaders who was working on his chain. I cruised by but didnt really pick up the pace. He shortly caught me and went past. When I came out of the last section of singletrack he was standing on the road trying to figure out which way to go. We finally decided on left and rode together to the finish for the sprint. He took off and I tried to follow, but had nothing left. 3rd place. 62 miles or so, and 5hrs 2 minutes.
Katie had a great day navigating the Ouachita mtns. She was at every feed zone along the way. Allowing me to finish off 6 bottles, 8 gels, and 3 bars. I definitely couldnt have done it without her.
The Top Fuel was pretty awesome. I felt great the whole way and this was due in large part to the bike. I was just cruising through the rocks while others were picking their way through.