I guess I could sum this weekend up with one statement. XXC has it right when they say, Sometimes “fun” hurts pretty f*cking bad. And this event hurt real bad. I don’t think I have ever hurt this bad for that long in any ride before. To push myself through all of it to even finish is something to say. When I finally finished and got back to the cabin, the first thing I did was text my wife and tell her to not let me ever do that again! Now that is the next day and even as I type I worry about cramping in too many places to count, I might have been a little haste with my text. I don’t know if I will try one of these next year or not, but I learned a lot about what I need to do before and during the race.
The week leading up to this I chickened out on the 100 miler and transferred my entry to the 100k option. I can not say how glad I am that I did that. If I would have been in the 100 miler, there would have been no doubt that I would have dropped out. I knew my fitness was not where it should have been for this kind of event. I figured that I should be able to do the 100k and even had some pipe dreams about finishing near top 10 in the SS class. I have done 60 some mile events before and looking at previous times, I thought if I felt good I should be close to that.
I took it easy at the start so I would not red line my heart going up that first hill. It was a little stressful in the first single track section, but after the camp ground area we dropped in to some nice and flowy trail with lots of little switch backs. Traffic was bad in this section and made some passes as I could. The longer we rode this section, the more fun I was having and the better I felt. This had me pushing some passes a little harder then I should have. I tried to back off some in different areas, but people would always want me to pass. I would tell them they are fine, but soon enough they would pull over. This kept me riding harder then maybe I should have. I cruised in to check point 1 feeling really good. I rolled in there in just over 2 hours and on a great time schedule. I just topped off my one bottle and took off again. The section after that was still flowy and fun. I was having such a blast riding these trails that it didn’t seem like work.
I made mental notes to keep drinking and I think I was doing a good job with it. Later on I would realize that the thing I was not doing well on was eating. There was a section between aid 1 and aid 2 where you rode up a little hill and crossed the road. Just one the other side was a short steep section. I was feeling good and committed to riding it. The guy right in front of me spun out and I was in a tight situation. If I tried to stop, I would have either fell a little bit down a hill or stepped on his bike and probably fall down too. I kind of stalled out and just powered past and up the hill. I went around the next corner thinking that move was not the smartest thing to do. It didn’t take long for me to find out just how dumb it was. The next switch back my leg cramped up real bad and had to get off. I tried to walk it out, but the next few inclines found it cramping again. I was still riding good everywhere else and eventually started to climb a few things again.
Then we turned the corner and there was a crazy hike a bike up a hill that looked like it was just weed wacked in. This had a few more sections of my legs letting their presence known. I was doing fairly well for a little bit, but I had to start walking any hill that had any steep incline to it. Also, the road sections were starting to take their toll with the heat. I walked in to aid 2 feeling cooked and cramping like crazy. At this point I was starting to think that would be the end and I would need to figure out how to get back to the cabin. I sat down for a long while and eventually got up to eat as much stuff as my stomach would let me. From this point on I would not have been shocked to see what little I did eat laying on the side of the trail. At aid station 2 I had only eaten 3 shock blocks. Not 3 packages, but 3 squares. That is not near enough of the length I was going and how hot it was. I saw one barn that had a thermometer on it saying 95 degrees. I heard that the one racer in the group had a cooked potato in one of his drop bags and when it was opened, the potato was steaming. It was a very hot day.
Eventually I talked myself out of quitting and off I went toward aid station 3. I think I was at 2 for at least 30 minutes. I still had to walk a lot of the hills, but this section had a lot of road and I could spin more sections of it. The open road hills were killer and the sun was really starting to bake. I have no idea how long it took me to get to the next stop, but it was way longer then I wanted it to take. I had a hint of hope as I rolled around one bend just past the zip line section. I could see aid station 3 at the bottom of the hill. What a relief that was, well until the trail kept going on around the bend and then head back in to the woods the wrong direction. That was not very nice to the motivation.
When I finally rolled in to the stop, I looked around a little thinking that all the girls from the cabin would be gone already. I was very happy to see them all sitting there. They were so much help. They were filling bottles and trying to get me some food. I felt like I was part of some pro team pit stop. They were all funny and could see that I was not feeling the best, but tried to say I was looking good. I have to say next to the sweet single track at the start, this was my hi-light of the whole day. After all the hard work they were doing for me and the fact that I some how moved on from aid station 2, I was not quitting. Another cool thing that happened at this stop was when Jason Pruitt came rolling back in to that stop while I was standing there. It was great seeing him out there, but it was also kind of sickening thinking that he already rode out to aid 4 and back in the time it took me just to get to 3. But, he was riding strong and was rolling in the 3rd spot for the 100 mile single speed class. Congratulations to him for holding that spot and getting on the podium. I can only hope that one day I can be 1/2 that strong.
The last 20 miles took me forever. I was cramping in so many different places and could not ride anything that went up at all. I was even cramping walking up the hills. I was getting passed by a ton of people. I know most of them were 100 milers, but that didn’t make me feel any better. I don’t remember a lot from of these miles, but was very happy when I rolled in to aid 5. I had to sit down again for a while and try to find enough energy to get back on the bike, much less ride the last 8 miles. I think I was border line being over heated too much, that I probably should not have been out there. But, there was no quitting now unless they would not let me continue. Just when I thought I had made it, I came around a corner and could see the camp ground. There was 2 lady’s sitting there and said, keep it up, you only have a mile and a half….. wtf! So, back in to the woods I go and I am looking at another steep gravel climb. I think I could have just sat down on the side of the trail at this point and cried. I had been shot for so long, cramping up very hard for very little movements and that little meat timer had popped out over 2 hours ago.
I managed to push up that hill and started rolling down the trail to the other side. It seemed like a very long 1.5 miles, but I came around the bend and saw the finish line. I was so relieved to be able to get off of my bike and know I didn’t have to climb another hill. It seems like I ended up 20th place in the SS class, but the sheet had me listed as 19th there. I finished in 9 hours and 23 minutes. I know I wasted a good 1.5 hours sitting at 3 rest stops. If I add all of the time walking hills that I normally would have been riding, that adds up to a lot of lost time out there. I have a lot to work on before I would attempt to do something like this again. I need to work on my eating and drinking, probably much more then my fitness. I really would like to know how I could have done if it was a little cooler or I fed my body the way it needed to be fed. Those are just some of the reasons that I will probably end up giving it another try. I would still like to go for the 100 mile, but I would need to get my fitness way better before it would make sense to even try.
Even with all of the hard ships and personal torture from the weekend, I had a great time. I met a bunch of new people that are really nice and a lot of fun to hang around. This alone would be enough to get me back to try again. I sure hope to run in to them more often in the future. All of these people kept the weekend from being a total loss. If I was camping by myself and gone threw that, I have no doubt that I would not have gone past aid station 3 and if I would have had to lay in a hot ass tent after that long day, I am sure my mental capacity would no longer be the same. They probably would have found me the next morning laying naked in the creek. Good thing I have some new good friends. Thank you all for everything!