I’m a little lacking in creative motivation right now, so I can’t think of any smooth and witty opener to set the tone for my report…
Or was that just it?
I camped out at the Stokesville Campground for the weekend. Todd and I pre-rode the first climb and singletrack descent the day before, and, based on the elevation profile, I knew it was going to be a challenge. I was kind of wanting the 21t cog I’d used at the Breck 100, but Todd swore that a 32×20 was the way to roll because of all of the flat sections between climbs.
Somehow, on Sunday morning, I managed to miss the 5am wake-up call and oversleep until 5:30 (race start was at 6:30). I’ve actually never overslept before a race, so it was an unfamilair near-panic feeling as I rushed to find food and coffee. Todd said something along the lines of “I figured you were up & moving in there!” ["there" being my tiny two-person tent] I was too busy getting things ready to ask him what exactly he thought I’d be doing in there for half an hour…
I fabricated a pretty nice breakfast out of two bagels, some peanut butter, and greek yogurt, then changed clothes, scalded my mouth on some campfire coffee that the guys in the tent across from me had brewed, and made it to the start line with about two minutes to spare. The only thing good about running late is that you don’t notice that it’s 48 degrees outside.
The start was slightly frustrating on a singlespeed since it rolled on flat pavement for a mile or two before the first climb. I was passed by a lot of people that I ended up motoring by as we negotiated the first pitches. Following that climb was a singletrack descent with some nice rocky sections. Between those sections and the next couple of singletrack climbs, I realized that riding with a lot of geared riders at about a 10-11hr pace will net lots of walking through sections that I feel reasonably confident that I’d clear otherwise.
Guess that’s for me and The Wizard to work on that this winter, eh?
I figured out going to the 2nd singletrack climb that the 32×21 might have been not as much fun, because I was able to Carey Lowery the Hell out of some guys on a long, flat section of road. (“Carey Lowery” being my term for sitting in and drafting men on 29ers so they do all the work while you get pulled along, doing no work, and acting like the cute, innocent killer that Carey Lowery is). That next climb was a beotch.
I don’t remember if it was Aid #3 or 4, but somewhere in that timeframe, I ate some gummy bears. If you’re easily offended, stop reading NOW, because I’m about to drop an F-bomb.
No, really, stop reading my blog altogether. Go see what Glen Beck has to say or something.
I fucking love gummy bears.
Seriously. Ever since Cohutta, where I crammed handfuls of dirt and sand-covered gummy bears into my mouth at one of the aid stations, I’ve sought them out at all races. They’re indescribably awesome in ways that you’d only understand if you rode a mountain bike over a bunch of mountains for 100 miles.
Around mile 70, on something called the “Death Climb,” I started feeling really awesome. I think it was the combination of gummy bears, electrolytes, pb&j, and just really enjoying a long singlespeed climb, but I’d look way ahead, see the hill covered in groups of people, then pass by them in what seemed like just a minute or two. It felt like no time before I was at aid 5 getting another handful of gummy bears and a bottle refill.
Speaking of aid stations, this race had some of the most on-point volunteers I’ve ever experienced. You’d pull up, they’d park or hold your bike, grab, refill, and replace your bottles, get things out of your drop bag, etc. Not that all aid station workers aren’t great and very much appreciated, but the SM100 volunteers were above and beyond that normal level of greatness.
So I left Aid 5 and was mentally prepped for what some people had said was the toughest part of the course. The “Death Climb” turned into a series of several long descent/climb repeats that the Appalachians are infamous for- no trail ever goes from the top to the bottom without a few 100 foot rollers in the middle. On one of the climbs, another singlespeeder passed me. He was absolutely flying- his unzipped jersey (a sweet Ibex one similar to mine) was flapping in the breeze, and he was on flat pedals. Holy crap! I can’t imagine riding a mountain bike- especially a singlespeed- on flat pedals! It was obviously working well for him, though.
I kept with my steady grind up the hills. I passed a woman or two, so I didn’t let myself back off on the flat spots between rollers. Soon enough, I was on the singletrack (mostly) descent and only had one climb between me and the finish. Luckily, the one remaining was the “easy” lower part of a climb we’d negotiated earlier in the day. It had been my favorite, so I didn’t mind a repeat appearance.
About 3/4 of the way up that last climb, I saw the flat-pedaled SS guy with his bike on the ground, standing on the side of the trail, chilling out & taking a drink. I generally make it a habit to encourage people late in races, and felt compelled to give him some motivation.
“Come on, gorgeous, let’s go…”
He was on my wheel and climbing before I could catch my breath from speaking. A minute later, he went flying past me, leaving me in a cloud of powdery Virgina dirt. Chivalry, meet death.
My official finish time was 10:30:24 and 13th place.
Stoked. I like finishing the season off with a good race. No cramps, no bad wrecks, no death marching. Even though it was slow, I call it a success. After food and beer, I met/gave isht to the guy (Nate) that passed me after my motivating words (he’s actually a nice guy from DC), met Dicky, then took photos of the podium presentations. Amanda Carey won the race and the 2010 NUE series and Todd won the men’s competition.
Some podium/other random shots…