My history at this race has been pretty cursed. I'm not sure what I did to piss it off. I first did it in 2003. I was in the lead group and flatted early. I tried to quit but couldn't figure out how to get back to the car. So I kept going, almost caught the lead group until I crashed hard into a ditch, finishing 14th. I skipped 2004 and 05 and was back in 2006 having just returned from my honeymoon. I was in the main group, chasing Simonson and I was hot. I dropped my bottle, missed a feed and imploded. Finished back in the 40s or so. In 2007 I took a wrong turn while riding in third behind Simonson and Matter. I went way off course. Chased back to 6th. In 2008 I crashed while in the lead group and bent my seat. I had to stop several times to adjust it. Finished 4th. Which takes us up to this years race.
The start went perfect for me, I stayed at the front and got over the first hill in the lead. There was a headwind and no one wanted to take the initiative to pull into it. The lead group swelled into a huge group. Eventually Mike Anderson and Tristan started taking some good pulls and I was tucked in third wheel. We hit the first set of powerline rollers and Mike A took off. I was hurting a bit so I just rode steady. Brian Matter attacked off our group and bridged up to Mike. I dropped to the back of our group and Mike Phillips took up chase. After a few minutes we stopped. We'd ridden off course. It turned out to be the same place I'd ridden off course 2 years before. This time I was following wheels, but that turn is not properly marked. Tristan, Marko, Jeff and Myself were heading back the right way, but Mike kept going I for I while I heard. When we started cruising back to the correct route we picked up a few other people who were heading the wrong way, including Jenna Zander/Reinhart who would go on to win the women's race.
At this point Jeff Hall and I took turned pulling. We were having to work through a ton of traffic. Tristan had a problem somewhere in there and was gone with a flat. It was motivating to pull up to and through groups. At Misery Hill we caught TJ who had flatted. He was moving good and I was getting tired so I backed off and drafted for a while. On the road section I was just trying to recover, and fortunately I did by the time we hit the woods again. TJ flatted again, Jeff crashed into a ditch and Marko lead for a few miles to keep the tempo up. I took over and kept it steady, eventually bringing back 2 more guys and moving us into a fight for third. Somewhere in there Mike Phillips bridged up from nowhere and started trading pulls with me. He was moving fast and I sat on him and yelled at him to go faster for the last few miles, eventually it was just the two of us. In the end he lead me out for third, a one spot improvement from last year so I'll take it.
Brian Matter won, I was happy for him. I guess he pulled the bulk of the remaining 30 miles or so. He was over 4 minutes ahead of me, and I looked at my GPS and we lost 2.5 minutes with the wrong turn, so I'm thinking they were gone regardless. Plus, after the mistake I felt better than ever so I think it actually helped me.
I had a lot of fun hanging out with everyone. I always go out to this race with Scott and Sara KJ which makes the drive a lot of fun. This year we had their daughter and hopefully next year Stella will be ready for O2S as well. We also got to hang out with the Eppens and I told them all about the importance of wearing long pants to protect your knees.