• Race Report: Ouachita Challenge

    Jeff Kerkove at the Ouachita ChallengeAs last years 60 mile winner, I took it upon myself to not sit back, but rather throw everything out there.  I took the initiative on the open road to drive to the singletrack right from the gun....no holding back.  It seemed that myself and eventual race winner, Brian Fawley, were doing a lot of the work.  The effort was high at times, and the race began to splinter on the road.

    On the final road climb to the singletrack, a few other riders came up towards the front.  I would be the 4th rider onto the singletrack.  Two riders would push off the front....never to be seen again.  I would start to go after past race winner Raymond Hall.  He would get about 100 yards on me.....only to flat a few miles later.  I would not see him the rest of the race.

    Jeff Kerkove at the Ouachita ChallengeFor a majority of the race, I would ride with Aaron Elwell here in this photo.  We pushed the pace, and he eventually got ahead of me at one point.  I would then be joined by last years 2nd place rider, Noah Singer.  Noah and I would ride together until the first long section of dirt road.  Here I was able to get away from Noah and bridge up to the Aaron Elwell.  Working together, we would get a good gap on Noah.....not seeing him as would turn corners or crest the hills.

    Pushing a hard pace we would ride through most of the Womble Trail until I cracked.  Even with all the eating and drinking, I was cooked.  I pretty much burned my matches in the early parts of the race.  Falling off of Aaron Elwell's wheel I would continue to dig deep to get to the finish line in 4th place.  With about 8 miles left in the 70 mile race, I would hear chattering breaks behind me coming out of the small water crossings.  It would be Noah, who worked his way back up to me......and then past me.  I had nothing as I watched him ride by.

    I kept pushing on until the final dirt road descent back to the finish line.  Here I would hit something sharp in the road.  Nail?  Metal?  Not sure, but it sliced open my Continental Race King 2.2 Protection tire very quickly.  While I waited for the Stan's to seal the hole, it never did, as the hole was too big.  I quickly popped in a tube....only to have Garth Prosser of Cannondale Fatory Racing come flying by me mid tire change.  I just went from 5th to 6th in a matter of seconds.

    By the time I changed the flat, it was too late to catch Garth.  I pedaled across the finish line in 6th overall.  I can pretty much say I left everything out there this year.

    Ouachita ChallengeMy bike post-race (number 100)

    2010 Ouachita Challenge course profileThe event profile.

    Things I need to work on after this event?  The tech skills!  With no singletrack open here in Colorado prior to the event, I saw myself all over the place on the trails in AR.  The skills will come back soon....especially with these 70F+ and windy days were are having here at 5,300 ft right now.

    My race nutrition was pretty straight forward.  I went through 15 PowerGels (assort flavors), about 20 ELETE Tablytes, 3 bottles of PowerBar Endurance, and 2 bottles of plain water to wash down the gels.