We arrived in Bend a few days before the race to do a little riding on the trails and float down the river(three days in a row). We also caught up with a bunch of old friends, went to an air show and watched a roller derby(go Lava City Smokin' Ashes !!!).
I signed up for the race the night before the went to the pre race meeting to get the scoop on the race. once I arrived I noticed a bit of the competition that I would be racing with... Sloane Anderson and Evan Plews who finished one spot ahead of me at the Intermontane Challenge. But I really had no idea what the SS competition would be like. I missed most of the meeting due to Ian being busy as usual. when it was done I asked a couple questions and took off to get a couple hours of sleep before the 3:00 a.m. wake up.
I arrived at the venue around 4:30 with an outside temperature around 32 degrees and dropping. By the time the race started the temp dropped to 30 and I found a little more competition, Chris Shepard the winner of the Intermontane Challenge.
I was on the starting line about 5 minutes early mostly because it was to cold to warm up. I was wearing arm warmers and a base layer!!! What's going on? I really wasn't complaining though, the cold was a nice change. 2 + hours into the race I was in 2nd overall behind Chris riding past this lake and my fingers were still cold.
While getting to the lake was a blast, what was to come in the next 10-15 miles did me in(for a while). There was a ton of little steep and loose climbs that I had to walk then a long and pretty steep climb where we topped out at about 6700'(frost all over the ground). After that was the lava rock descent that I had been hearing about. It wasn't any where near as rocky as I thought it was going to be, and I was able to go pretty fast! this is what did me in. while slipping between the cantaloupe sized rocks I managed to cut a side wall. I tried to put in a little air but it was bad enough to need to put in a tube as the Stan's couldn't plug a hole that big(the gash was about an inch long). I moved out of the trail, ate some Shot Bloks so I would have something to boot the tire, changed my tube, and got ready to air it up. Just then Evan comes by with someone else on his wheel, Great 2nd place to 4th in less than two minutes.
Get the air in and go!!! What? "Something is not right", the valve on my tube was bad and my tire was flat within 2 seconds of me taking my CO2 inflator off. What to do next, wait or walk? I chose to walk even though it was more than 10 miles to the aid station. I walked about 10 minutes before the next person caught up to me. It was about 20 minutes before I found a new tube(26"), a pump and got my bike working again. Thanks, Geoff Hubert of team Lost Coast for the CO2(more on that later). by that time I was in 12 place or so, not where I like to be so I went back out hard and caught 5 of them in the next 8 miles and was up to 7 place. On the descent after aid two I caught one guy who I had been following for about 20 minutes when he got a huge branch stuck between the crown of his fork and his tire and I caught Geoff a few minutes later who flatted and had the same problem as I, a bad tube and not enough CO2 I passed him a CO2 Niner (the only way to go for big wheels!) and I was off to catch the 5 people that were still in front of me.
The rest of the day was pretty lonely, 50+ miles by my self again. I never say another soul, except a few people that I was lapping. I kept hearing that someone was right in front of me but I never caught him. Unfortunately a couple became victim to course markings getting removed and were lost for a while, moving me to 3rd place overall when the day was done.