Monday, April 04, 2011
Ouachita Challenge 2011 recap!
The Ouachita Challenge went down this weekend in Oden, Arkansas. CVO, KKS, Scott and I made the ten hour trip from Lincoln to represent the Rasta. Yeah, that's a long time in the car for a 60 mile race, but it's definitely worth the drive.
This was my fourth (maybe fifth?) year competing in the Ouachita Challenge. The event has a non-competitive tour on Saturday followed by a race on Sunday. Each day is capped at 250 riders due to park regulations.
CVO and I left Thursday night and drove most of the way down. We were able to ride some of the Womble Trail Friday afternoon. KKS and Scott joined us on Saturday for a pre-ride of Big Brushy and Blowout Mountain trails.
The weather for the race on Sunday was great. At the start the temps were already in the mid sixties. Short sleeve and shorts! The humidity was really high so I found myself sweating bullets shortly after the start. The dew also made all the rocks a bit more treacherous.
The race was officially on as soon as we hit the gravel. The lead vehicle peeled away as riders began to pick up the pace.
A double paceline formed down the sweet spots of the rocky gravel road up to the first singletrack of the day...Big Brushy.
Riders attacked as soon as the climbs began. The group split into a lead group, several chasers trying to hang on for dear life (myself) and everyone else. I didn't have a great start and entered the singletrack around 25th to 30th position.
Once in the singletrack there wasn't much room for passing. Most riders settled in and recovered from the big effort of getting to the top. The trails were so much fun I forgot I was racing several times. Grinning from ear to ear.
There was plenty of climbing and descending throughout the race. That coupled with all the rocks and trees made it very difficult and inconvenient to pass or be passed. The gravel road sections in between the singletrack was the best place to pass or let folks by.
Yeah, there are some real technical sections during this race. A lot more rocks than I'm used to riding. After riding a few stretches I was able to figure it out. The rocks would claim a lot of victims throughout the day. The new bike ate up the rocks and definitely allowed me to ride a lot fast on the descents. Thanks again Cycle Works!
After Big Brushy the race ventured onto the infamous Blowout Mountain. As you can imagine by the name, flats are very common on Blowout Mountain. The rocks are big and plentiful.
So every year I seem to have trouble on Blowout Mountain. Either flats, crashes or both. This year I crashed. Endo'd onto some rocks after trying something I probably should have gotten off and ran. Luckily, I somehow landed "softly" onto the rocks and came away with only some cuts, bruises, and a broken camera screen.
After Blowout the race continued onto Sims which has a big climb on one side followed by wicked descent on the other. So much fun!
The last stretch of singletrack included the Womble Trail which is an IMBA Epic. This trail is the best singletrack I have ever ridden hands down. You gotta ride this trail!
The race was tough, but ridiculously fun. The heat was a little more than I was ready for at the beginning of April. Cramps were knocking all day, but I was able to finish strongly and not be a complete pile of rubble at the end.
I'll definitely be going back next year. If you want in, you better be on your toes. Registration filled up in six hours this year. Just like most endurance mountain bike events these days...it's a race to get in.