I arrived at the pits on Friday night and stood around the campfire with a few other ADVers (commander51, fano and frog) chatting for a bit before heading to my camper to try to get some sleep. I was up around 5 to get ready for the 6 AM or so start.
The sun had not risen when the A bikes left, followed by the A ATVs, A UTVs and B bikes followed by more B class ATVs and UTVs. For a taste of the pits, here is a picture of the A UTVS and the beginning of the B bikes.
The air was really crisp, but since I tend to warm quickly I wasn't too concernred as I rolled away from the green flag slowly and built some speed up the long road heading up into the hills. I missed the first major turn in the race 2 miles in and flopped over while laughing to myself about blowing the first corner. My SPOT flew out of its holder but fortunately I saw it leap so I quickly grabbed it and threw it into a side pocket on my fanny pack. The first loop (55 miles) was fast and sweeping and had more than a few hidden basketball rocks. I was riding well and making a few passes before hit mile 38 and came up on the #7 bike crashed with a possible tib/fib fracture. He said he was ok and from the dust coming from behind I knew one of the riders I had just passed would be there soon so I headed out to find the next check to tell them about the injured rider. The rest of the loop was really fast and as I rolled into the pits I told the official about the injury, bike number and location. As I was pouring my gas and taking a long drag on my camelbak I was able to look around a bit and take in the good vibe in the pits. I was having a great time and ready for loop 2 (65 miles).
Loop 2 went up into the mountains and was more technical so I was looking forward to making up some time on the group in front. I had not done any pre-running, so the course during the first two loops continued to be a surprise. I was zipping through some of the tight left / right corners at the base of a spectacular mountian when some loose rocks on an off camber right had me sliding out and pulling my right knee. I remounted easily, but it was hurting for a few miles. I began to wonder if I had pulled something important on the inside of the knee. After about 10 miles it loosened and starting feeling really good just in time for me to have a pretty major get off in a fast uphill left turn. The course here was littered with pointy rocks half buried in the ground. As I crested the corner in 3rd the front end washed out (looking back at the crash spot after I got up I saw that one of the rocks I was using for the corner uprooted and the front slid out - lessen, don't use rocks for corners!) and I lowsided pretty violently. My left shoulder made a horrendous cracking sound and as I was crashing I was thinking, "wow, that is going to hurt!" After sliding to a stop I got up to discover no obvious broken bones, just a super sore left side including an obvious rock impact soreness on the inside of my upper arm; a very unusual impact spot indeed. The bike looked fine except for a bent hand guard. I remounted and rode a really cautious and sloppy remainder of the 2nd loop. The terrain continued to be a technical and rough loop and I was riding tight trying to wait for my left side to come back to life. My left arm was especially unresponsive from getting banged around.
Pouring my gas for Loop 3 had me getting back into the zone, and again gave me time to take a big long drag on my hydration pack that contained the Hammer goop. It worked so well for this race that for sure I'm going to stick with the setup for the longer events. Loop 3 was a repeat of 1 and I was loosening up and feeling pretty good as my body was working through the discomfort from the falls. The palms of my hands were getting a little sore, but I was really feeling good. The 450x was running fantastic and after a few miles I was starting to really flow. I rolled into the pits happy and having a great ride. I just wanted to finish loop 4 without incident and be confident that I could do 200+ race miles without too much wear on my carcass.
I asked for some help from commander51's pit before loop 4 because I really had to go to the bathroom. C51's dad agreed to pour some gas while I zipped over beside my camper make a puddle. I saddled up will a full tank and an empty bladder and rolled off to finish the ride. I was much smoother going into loop 4 and was really feeling comfortable on the bike and the distance. It had been a while since I passed someone and when I saw some dust a few miles ahead I thought it might be an ATV or UTV. Frog was manning the check at about mile 18 and was waving me through. Not really in any rush I figured I'd stop and chat for a sec since I was pretty sure no one was catching me. I rolled up and asked him about the dust up ahead and he said it was c51 and he was only a couple minutes in front and that the leader was only about 15 minutes ahead. I asked him if Chris crashed and he said he did but he wasn't hurt too badly. Surprised by the news at how close I was I zipped away from the check and caught Chris in a couple of miles. I passed him through the dust and zoomed on, passing both of the spots where I had crashed earlier. About 35 miles from the finish my hydration bladder popped out of my camelbak and was swinging to the side. I rode for a couple of minutes with it in my lap, but I was impossible to stand with the bladder once again swinging in the wind, begging to be set free. Finally I pulled over and shoved it in under the belt on my fanny pack. Every 2-3 miles it would come loose and I'd have to pull over and tuck it back in. I was getting pretty good at the Indy style pit stop to quick pull over, tuck the bladder and race away. This picture was taken at the finish and you can see my slick new method for carrying an extra bladder. I call this the Camelgut system.
I finished a strong loop through the silt, whoops and tight, packed up my stuff and got ready to leave. On the way out I checked the results and found out I'd finished 2nd overall and that the winning bike may have been a team effort. I was surprised yet pleased. Some of the preparations I've been doing seem to be paying off.
Overall avg speed (including pits, crashes, 4 potty breaks, broken down riders, hydration bladder stuffing stops, etc.) was about 38 mph. Top speed on one paved section was 91 while on a couple of smooth sections it looked to be about 85).
Sunday I was a little sore but mostly on my left side that has some bruising. I had 2 or 3 times where I hit hidden rocks pretty fast and the front or rear of the bike did a major deflection. I thanked the Scotts steering damper out loud every time as I almost always do, though I think my exact words were, "that just saved my bacon." No problem with the 450x though, I just grabbed some throttle and it straightened right up.
Onward for V2R it looks like. I'm confident I can finish well if I keep the bike on two wheels.
Thanks for reading this long report.