This post to help others that are riding in the 2013 edition of the Dakota Five-O. This years course will be run backwards from normal. I pre-rode the course after driving home from Montana at the end of July. These will be basic notes, ask me any questions here or on Facebook.
To preface this report, I had driven about 10 hours through Montana the day prior and another 3.5 hours the day of this ride. My nutrition seemed right, so that didn't seem to impact the ride. It was a little warmer than normal, since I had been in MT for the previous two weeks, the elevation was not likely a big impact. I was riding my Salsa El Mariachi Ti with a 34t front and 11-34 rear 9-speed cassette.
The short summary is that I was in 1st and 2nd gear for the majority of any uphill riding (maybe due to sitting in the truck for 13hrs). During the ride, I felt like I was at about 80% of race effort and was constantly thinking that I should gear down to a 32t for the race. However, after reviewing the Strava data, I was actually at a pretty low HR. I wouldn't hold too much weight to the comparative KOM ratings as not many people have ridden the course in this direction. I think that under race conditions that the 34T will be just fine. There are a few spots that the 32t might help relieve some pressure, but at an overall cost of speed. The 34t just forces me to race faster.
In summary, a full suspension might be nice as the course seemed rougher in this direction. I also noticed the rocky ridges more. For me a double of 32/36 with 11-34 on the rear would be perfect. But, I run a hardtail and 1x9 :) So...I'll likely stick with the 34t and hope that the race pace puts the gearing more into my comfort zone.
The Strava file: http://app.strava.com/activities/70826119
Some detailed thoughts: (mileage and elevation are close approximations)
I started at the Tinton Trail singletrack trail head. So I had skipped riding the initial gravel climb
(3.2 miles and approx 690 feet of climbing).
Climb #1 is up Tinton Trail, across the gravel road and up the double track. Nothing extraordinary about this section. But probably more climbing than expected. (5.2 miles, 1050 feet climbing for this section only)
The Bacon Station climb is as hard as expected. Initial singletrack is surprisingly rideable, but rocky sections make you dismount and walk several times. The climb actually goes past the bacon station a little ways. (2.3 miles, 850 climbing for this section only)
To me the key is to remember that at this point of the ride, you will be at approximately 13.2 miles and near 2600 feet of climbing (that includes the gravel road start stats).
The "unnamed road climb" in Strava is the fast double track downhill that is near mile 30 of the normal course. This was a little different than expected. Not as steep as I expected, but still hard due to trail conditions. For this section alone, you will climb 575 feet in 2 miles.
At the 16 mile point of my ride, the stats show a little over 3100 feet of climbing (make that 19.2 miles and close to 3800 feet of climbing from the start). That is a lot of the climbing for the 1st third of this race!
The next section to note is called "Cringle Connection" and "Taco Alley" under the normal course direction. This is the section of what I remember as cow trail through the scrub trees. Lots of big rocks that we ride over and down, now much flow in the normal direction. Again, many short walking sections in the reverse of the course. Lots of potential mud here if it rains as the cows really churned up this part of the trail. Lots of alternative paths to take as well. The main trail is pretty obvious, but the cows are making more and more options. Still some good climbing through here.
The climb from the above referenced section to the top (Old Baldy Trail head) is not as bad as you would think. On the normal race loop, this is the fun downhill after checkpoint 2. I would have thought this was steeper, but it went fairly quickly (despite me having to herd cows off the trail).
So now you are at the top of the course (normal checkpoint 2). Mileage should be near 25.5 and 4875 of climbing (including gravel road from the start). You would think that the majority of the rest of the course is downhill, right? Not so fast....
I was probably most surprised by the slow going on the second half of the course. The rock gardens and climbing sections keep the speed surprisingly slow. I was by myself, so I wasn't pushing any of my limits, but it didn't feel like there were too many sections to really push it on the upper sections. I had to bail out on my ride at the location of the normal first feed zone/checkpoint. From the top to this section it was 11.7 miles and still had 1250 feet of climbing. Some really fun sections and some spots that I wish that I had a full suspension bike.
Like I said, I had to bail on the funnest section of Tinton Trail downhill as it was getting dark. I remember that section having 2-3 more climbs as well, but nothing sustained.