So far, we are 3 for 3 this year when it comes to perfect weather on OMBC race days. I was the first one to arrive and the day was already gorgeous. As I set up the Breakaway Quickdirt team tent, the dew moistened my shoes, but the early morning air was not nippy at all. It was downright pleasant. A text from my lovely wife reminded me to apply sunscreen. I was happy to work on my bike under the tent and avoid a few UV rays because I knew I was going to be outside baking for the majority of this sunny day.
It was the perfect atmosphere to test my limits on a challenging new race course.
I was excited to compete, but I was a little nervous as well. I’ve lost count of the number of OMBC races that I’ve done, probably over 60, but my third expert event was going to be the hardest I had ever tackled. With 30 miles and 4000 feet of climbing, it was 20 percent harder than Mohican and would require way more effort than any of my past sport races. I hadn’t ridden my bike since Tuesday because I wanted to rest up and peak at this race since there weren’t any more OMBC races on the schedule until the end of June.
I was rested and ready, but would I be able to endure 3 hours of racing?
****Special Thanks to Doug Armstrong for taking a log of the great photos that are in this article.
There Is a First Time for Everything
On Saturday, May 2, 2015, the OMBC held its first race ever at Great Seal State Park. Jamie and Chris Sharp opened up their property, which is located about a half mile away from the opening piece of singletrack. It was a great place to have the start and finish for the race. Racers parked behind their barn/garage (barnrage?) and moseyed over for registration and socialization.
Jamie is the owner of the River’s Bend Bike Shop in Chillicothe, Ohio, which hosted the event. I know for a fact that he and several local volunteers from the Chillicothe area worked their tails off to get the trails primed for the race. Let me tell you, their work paid off. Despite the fact that we were hit with a deluge of rain on Thursday, the trails were in great shape. I noticed several new bridges that had been added just in the past week to get ready for the race. When I saw him that morning, Jamie looked exhausted from all the work, but excited to get a chance to show off his local trail.
The race course was made up of a loop that was a hair under 10 miles with almost 1300 feet of climbing. Novices did one loop, sport did two and experts did three. Racers started on the Sharp’s property, sprinted a half mile down Lick Run Road, and took a sharp left onto the singletrack. They immediately went through a creek crossing and then a grassy, muddy field. This was the wettest part of the race. I’m sure riders were wondering what the rest of the course was going to be like as their tires sunk into the earth.
After that, riders immediately started climbing what might soon be the most famous hill in the OMBC series – Barbed Wire. This ascent is a half mile of constant churning that can make or break your race. You want to fight for position, but you can easily blow yourself out. And, just when you think you are almost done, the climb gets steeper. The toughest racers make it to the top while the rest of the weary masses scream mercy and slowly drag their bikes to the peak.
The Low Down
It was unclear how many would show up given that this was the first time an OMBC race had ever been held at Great Seal. 130 racers competed with 50 novice, 54 sport and 26 experts. 17 of those riders were women and 10 were singlespeeders.
Ben Ortt won his third straight race in the expert division with a time of 2:20:56. The fastest sport times were recorded by two high schoolers, Clayton Travis, 1:43:50 and Nicholas Vorwerk, 1:46:56. The quickest novice racer is also in high school. Payne Wissler finished one lap in 56:04.
On the women’s side, Vicki Munnings (3:04:24) won expert, Sydney Wenger (2:07:40) won sport and Chris Sharp (1:11:32), the hometown favorite took top novice honors.
Congratulations to everyone who finished this fun, but challenging course. My condolences to the 4 guys who DNF’d. Better luck next year.
My Race – the Art of Survival
I had publicly stated that my goal was to finish in 2:51:00, a bold move considering that no one had ever raced here and there was no precedent about what a good finish time would be. In my mind, I knew that endurance was one of my weaknesses and that going over 3 hours was a very realistic possibility. I was just hoping that I wouldn’t be way over 3 hours. I was mildly worried that race director Ryan O’Dell would be packing up the podium and driving off before I made it back to the finish.
My strategy was to focus on pacing. When the race started, I didn’t panic at all when the leaders sprinted away from me. I knew that I wasn’t going to win any awards for being the first one to the woods. My plan was to go as easy as possible up Barbed Wire and save myself for the next 29 miles of racing. At least that was the plan…
I hit Barbed Wire close to the back of the pack, but as I started the climb I couldn’t shake the feeling that I could be going a little faster. I chugged patiently for a minute or so, but then my competitive juices got the best of me. I passed Randy Slaubaugh and tried to convince myself that it was enough. But next thing you know, I was churning behind Matt Becher, who was behind Chris Knapp. My legs were feeling good and I made a quick forceful move around them on the left.
“Okay, now I’ll settle down,” I said to myself. I could see Scott Young ahead. He had been a good person to pace myself with, so I thought I could trail him for a while. But no… I couldn’t just be happy with that. In front of Scott was open space and I figured I could ride more efficiently if I had unobstructed access to the trail. So, I passed him too.
Now I was in fourth place and had completely thrown my slow start strategy out the window. I reached Barbed Wire with my heart thumping out of my chest, but I’ll admit I was pretty excited to have free reign on the singletrack in front of me. That first section after Barbed Wire is great for recovering and I was having a blast weaving through the trees. The trail is well-constructed for this type of racing. It’s fast, but has enough of a technical element to it, that it keeps you on your toes.
Fairly soon, I realized that Vince Urichich was right behind me. He is a chatty rider, which makes riding with him a lot of fun. It takes your mind off the race when the going gets tough. We rode together for most of the first lap. Several miles in, we could see Brad Smith up ahead in 3rd place and Vince was challenging me to reel him in.
“He must be a little off today. We can catch him. Go get him Jimmy!” Vince said.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” I replied. I knew my legs had enough juice to catch Brad and maybe stay with him for a lap, but I was fairly certain that I couldn’t hang with him for three laps.
I was back in my pacing mindset and trying to be responsible, but I looked down at my Garmin and realized that I was putting out a much bigger effort than I had at Mohican two weeks prior. Was I just asking to bonk hard later?
Having Vince on my tail was definitely pushing me. The testosterone wouldn’t let me slow down and show weakness, even though I knew that I was probably going too fast.
At one point, close to the end of the first lap, two sport riders caught up to us. They rode behind us for a little bit, but I didn’t want to hold up their race, so pulled into the weeds to let them by. Vince zoomed on by too and I started to wonder about the wisdom of my move. I was now in fifth.
The whole lap I felt technically clumsy. There were no crashes, but I kept making small mistakes and having to put my foot down on obstacles that I could normally ride over. After Vince and the boys passed me, I made several of those stupid errors right in a row. The final blow was when I looked down for a second to grab some food, accidentally missed a turn and rode straight into the weeds. The three of them got away from me and I got to spend some quality time alone in the woods.
I soon caught up with Todd Blumerick, a singlespeeder from Michigan who is competing in the OMBC series with his wife Wendy.
We started our second ascent of Barbed Wire together and he had to walk when he couldn’t muster the strength to pedal his singlespeed up the steep slope.
“I’ll see you at the finish line.” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up with you without any gears”
I kept pedaling and managed to squeak some words out between gasps for air, “I don’t believe our story is over yet”
And it wasn’t. We spent most of the second lap close together with me in the lead. My legs were starting to feel the effort and I was starting to wonder if I could survive a third lap.
On my final climb up Barbed Wire, I once again caught sight of Vince Urichich finishing up the climb. I was shocked in a good way. I thought he was long gone. Maybe there was still hope of getting fourth place. But, two miles into the lap, my quads started to fall apart. I felt like I was on the verge of cramping and I could see my power level dropping on my Garmin – so much for even pacing. Every time I tried to power up a slope, my legs threatened to lock up. Even though mentally I wanted to push harder, my legs were not giving me a choice. When I did get off my bike to hike a hill, I had a hard time lifting my legs back over the saddle.
My brief dream of catching Vince quickly faded away and now Blumerick was slipping away from me too. Panic set in. How long could I ward off this decline in performance. Could I make it to the finish line without losing more spots?
With less than 4 miles to go, Scott Young caught me and zipped by me like I was sitting still. He went by so quickly that it almost felt like he was playing a mental game with me. Or, maybe I was already doing that to myself. I was now just hoping that if I could make it to the top of the Grouse Run climb and through the rock garden then I could make it to the finish unscathed. Once I saw the sign for Annie’s Trail, I knew it was three miles of mostly downhill riding.
My declining power would be less important when I could glide down a few slopes. I looked at my computer and realized that I was going to miss my arbitrary goal of 2:51:00, but that I was really borderline on finishing in under 3 hours – now I had a new arbitrary milestone to conquer. I pushed as hard as my legs would let me, but every time I exerted power, my legs threatened to revolt. There was no one near me. This new 3-hour goal was my only motivation. My arms and back were aching and I didn’t know how much longer I could hold out. I was dreaming about drinking a Great Lakes beer and eating a grilled hot dog at the Breakaway Quickdirt tent. It may have only been two miles away, but it felt like two million.
Finally, I exited the woods and hit pavement. I tucked into an aero position and summoned a final quarter-mile sprint. I looked over my shoulder and 6th place was guaranteed, middle of the pack. I crossed the finish line and Ryan announced my time 3:02:30. The time was adjusted to 3:00:30 to account for the staggered start. Arggh! I missed the 3-hour barrier by 30 seconds. Surely I could have squeezed that out somewhere.
I guess I have a new goal for the second-annual “Battle of Barbed Wire” when they host it next year.
See you there.
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Jimmy’s Stats (According to Garmin GPS)
I forgot to wear my heart rate monitor so I don’t have any of that information.
- 6th of 11 in Expert 40+ (45th percentile)
- 16th of 26 for all expert distance racers (38th percentile)
- Distance: 29.51
- Time: 2:59:21 (Garmin wanted me to finish in under 3 hours)
- Avg Speed 9.9 mph
- Max Speed: 23.8 mph
- Elevation Gain: 3,878 ft
- Calories Burnt: 2083
- Avg Temp: 71.4 F
- Avg Power: 194 Watts
- Max Power 805 Watts
- Normalized Power: 231 Watts
- TSS: 177.5
- Work 2084 kilojoules
Team Breakaway Quickdirt
Congratulations to everyone on Team Breakaway Quickdirt – a collaboration between Breakaway Cycling in Delaware, Ohio and and Quickdirt.com. I’m proud of the way we’ve come together as a team. Everyone raced their butts off and had a great day. The post-race weenie roast was one of the highlights of my day. If you live in Delaware County, Ohio and would like to learn more about the team, please contact me through Facebook.
- Joe Worboy 1:00:22 – 1st Novice Masters
- Dan Fausey 1:06:06 – 2nd Novice Clydesdale
- Mikey Worboy 1:12:49 – 1st Novice Junior High
- Shannon Williams 1:16:50 – 4th Novice Grand Masters
- Calvin Fausey 1:36:23 – 3rd Novice Junior High
- Nahum Burt 1:54:20 – 3rd Sport Veteran
- Kunihiko Max Tanuma 1:55:01 – 1st Sport Masters
- Michael Whaley 2:07:33 – 3rd Sport Singlespeed
- Christopher Boyle 2:25:34 – 4th Sport Senior
- James Knott 3:00:30 – 6th Expert 40+
- Doug Armstrong – 1st Weenie Roaster
Feel free to download and share any photos that you find that you like on Facebook. I just ask that you like Quickdirt on Facebook or tag the photos with Quickdirt if you do.