This year, I was determined to not make the same mistake and go out too fast like I did last year when I raced Cohutta as my first 100. The start was cold. I didn’t warm up very much, but figured since my strategy was to hit my 100 mile pace from the gun, that I’d get warm in plenty of time for the first real climb about halfway into the first miles of singletrack.
My strategy was actually working very well. It was tough to let a lot of people pass me at the start of the race, but I figured I’d see a lot of them again in due time. I entered the first singletrack in a group, but, amazingly, it was a group with a very nice pace. I was able to settle into a good rhythm, and I was feeling great.
Unfortunately, I took a bad line coming off of Boyd’s Gap. I was a little miffed at people avoiding some rocks and dabbing in order to get to an easy line. I just rolled though the rocks, but managed to flat my rear tire on the way. Talk about bad timing… avoiding an easy/slow line is a lot of what I practiced last time I was at Syllamo, and I didn’t have any issues on much gnarlier terrain.
I didn’t panic (at least not immediately) and pulled off the trail to install a tube, only to find that my spare tube had a cut in it from an edge on the Awesome Strap I was using to hold it under my saddle. Uh-oh.
Here’s a word of advice to anyone who has ever yelled out, “got everything you need?” to someone changing a flat on the side of the trail…
IF YOU DON’T PLAN ON STOPPING IF THE PERSON SAYS “NO,” THEN DON’T F^CKING ASK IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Eventually, Scott, one of my kind and generous blog readers, came to my rescue. He gave me his tube and was nice enough to stick around until I was back rolling. Scott, I am eternally grateful.
Time lost… approximately 10 minutes. Places lost… no idea. It was a lot. The next section was alternately rooty and wet. I was nervous about a pinch flat, so I took it somewhat easy. Once I was through the creek and over the bridge by the White Water Center, the trail pitched up in a nice power climb. I started to gain ground back on the people who had passed me earlier. Since the course conditions were so much better than last year, the rest of the singletrack seemed to fly by. I refilled a bottle at the exit onto the fire road then headed on my way.
The course is generally rolling for a little while. Between the water stop and the flat spots, I was back & forth with a few women. At one point where the course was pretty flat, a woman and the guy she was with flat out dropped me. He pulled her off into the woods and left me spinning in their dust. A while later, I caught him alone on the first pitches of the “big” climb, where I joked with him, “Don’t worry, I’ll catch her here in a few minutes.” About half an hour later, I did. We were back and forth for a while, but I was able to pull away on the last miles of the climb.
Somewhere along the way, I managed to find Laureen Coffelt as well. I knew that once I passed her that I couldn’t slow my pace lest she break me with her relentless motor. I basically rode the 2nd half of the race looking over my shoulder for blue/green/white kit.
Somewhere on the first hills, I hit a rhythm that stayed with me the entire race. I had this song in my head (which resulted in me telling a guy on one of the easy grades that he was a dime and asking why he was looking lonely), and I began singing the chorus in my head to keep time with my breathing and pedaling. I began flying past people on geared bikes like they were sitting still.
I’ve never been a good climber. I’ve always been too big to be a climber. However, what I have slowly discovered since the Death Climb at Shenandoah is that being bigger and more powerful is not as much of a disadvantage when you don’t have the option of a granny gear. As the race progressed, I was looking less behind me and more ahead of me, hoping to see one of the other women up the road.
Unfortunately, they never showed up. I crossed the line a few minutes short of 9 hours- 1 hour better than last year. Being the only woman entered in the women’s singlespeed category, I was eager to see how I stacked up against the other ladies.
I went back to the car, grabbed a towel, and sat in the creek for a few minutes. After cleaning up & changing, I went back to the finish area to wait for results. Eventually, the race director put the open women results up and announced that the 15 minute protest period had begun. I realized that my name was nowhere on the results board, so I protested. He told me that they’d give me an award for women’s singlespeed.
Based on time (which I still don’t have an official number for), I was 7th overall, and only minutes out of the top 5 placings. Awesome. Until this afternoon when I came home and saw the results that were posted on Cyclingnews… leaving me out completely. What. The. Fuck.
Apparently, since I was a single racer in the women’s singlespeed category, that means that I’m not worthy of getting an official result posted anywhere.
Pissed? Hell yeah, I’m pissed. Discouraged? Hell no. Not at all.
At my current fitness, I was half a flat change from breaking into top 5. Am I going to be facing off with Carey and Sorenson this season? Not likely. Facing off with any number of other women? I’m gunning for it.
I’ll singlespeed my way into your Cyclingnews whether you like it or not.