After I fell off Marty's wheel I was with the 2nd chase group of about 15 riders. This was a strong group with one lady (who ended up being the 1st lady finisher). I stayed with the group until the 6 mile climb of Snake Mountain; at this point it was cramps that let the group gap me. I was wishing I had a compact crank. I kept pushing the pedals as hard as I could; I was climbing seated because I would fully lock up out of the saddle. (see photo)
On the decent of Snake Mountain I thought I was going at a pretty good clip but being cautious because I was told there were several blind sharp bends. Mid way down the climb a rider blew past me at full tilt. I did all I could and was able to get on her wheel, yes her. This was one fast chick. She was the local rider Nina that Marty mentioned. Looking at Strava data she was 46 seconds faster than I was for the whole 6.6 mile decent. Marty was 2 seconds faster than her, so much for his advice of go easy on the decent After the decent we worked together for a few miles until she stopped on one of the following climbs with dehydration issues.
Pushed on solo until the local boys caught me, they were so happy. I heard this hillbilly accent “hey it’s Dave, how ya doin? “ Then “Where’s Marty?” I told them Marty was still with the lead group and it kind of burst their bubble. This was at mile 71; they worked hard to drop me. I hung on until mile 83 the last big climb. Had plenty of cardio just not the leg’s, they slowly rode away up the climb. I was cursing my cramps…. After that I was able to scoop up a few more riders on the way to the finish only to get passed by a group of 5 less than a mile and a half from the end. At this point I was cooked and just happy to have beaten my goal of 5:30 by less than 2 min.