Tuesday, September 04, 2007

SM100 - NEU Series Finale

I tried to get extra sleep leading up to the SM100 but couldn’t muster more than 6hours a night. Rode offroad for about 2hours on Wednesday. Did close to 20miles around Hartford on the track bike Friday.

Friday night I frantically packed everything up hoping to get to sleep early (never happened). Saturday morning I dropped Omega off at the kennel and headed down to New Jersey to meet up with TimmyD. I was not looking forward to the drive to Virginia. Guess I’m getting a bit tired of all this traveling every weekend. Once Tim and I got on the road I slowly lost those feelings and was getting excited for Sunday’s race.

Arrived at the Stokesville campground sometime before the sun went down. Picked up our number plates, realigned our front brake calipers (before we ran out of light), packed our drop bag(s) and started making the rounds saying hello and shootin’ the schit with everyone. Finally had the chance to meet Dicky himself and a few others. Asleep by 10/11 pm.

5am Chris Scott, the promoter, is out waking everyone up with the ceremonial gong. I got up at 5:30 to eat some breakfast and then went back to sleep for a bit. We’re both officially up around 6am getting ready for a 6:30am race start.

6:30 the race is on. Rollin’ through the campground out onto the road. Down the road for a while and a left onto a Jeep trail. TimmyD was out front from the get-go in pursuit of that SS win. I was enjoying having this 34x20 ratio ‘cause I was able to keep up with everyone on the road. Found Topher and rolled with him for a bit. The Jeep trail started. Didn’t feel like I was pushing myself anaerobic so I was comfortable with hanging with
Topher for a while. He eventually pulled away from me prior to us summiting this climb.

At the top the course ducked into some nice rocky singletrack. This was my first taste of the jarring my rigid fork would provide me. Somehow I faired well since no one passed me along that ridge and through the descent. At the bottom we’re out onto a fireroad going through aid station 1 (didn’t stop). The fireroad later turned into pavement. Lots of geared guys passed me but I found myself hanging onto this one group of riders letting them pull me for a few miles. We rolled up on Dicky as he was spinning his arse off but couldn’t seem to latch onto the group I was in. Left turn onto some more pavement and I still seemed to be sticking with this group. Maybe a mile up Dicky came by pedaling some ridiculous cadence and buzzed myself and the group I was in like we were standing still. I was in shock but also had no intentions to try and hang.

Couple more miles later I’m chatting with two geared guys and we happen on a Cannondale rider on the side of the road. Oh no. Not Tim. I stopped to offer help and/or a hand. He seemed to have everything together but had some issues with his Singleator. Not good. This concerned me for I knew how much he needs/wants to podium this race.

I mustered on without Tim. Left turn onto some doubletrack. Saw Chris Eatough and a fellow racer fumbling with Chris’ rear wheel. That doesn’t look good. As I rode by I heard something about a broken hub and its not trailside repairable. Trail turned into singletrack and so did what I consider the first big climb of the day (up to what I believe is Wolf Ridge). Rode most of the bottom singletrack as it meandered up the ravine. Then it crested onto a ridge which became rocky and climbed even steeper. Now I’m off the bike hiking along with just about everyone else.

Crest the top and now we’ve got a nice singletrack along Wolf Ridge. What do you know? As soon as I had a nice pace going and was riding the ridge fluently I came into a sweeping right turn a bit too hard. Pinch. Somehow punctured the rear tire. It seemed to be slow (which told me it wasn’t a huge hole like Michaux) so I kept on riding thinking Stans will seal it up. Not quite the case. The tire went flat. I pull over to watch lots of people go by. Rear wheel is now out of the bike and I’m shaking it hoping that Stans will seal the puncture. I couldn’t find a hole and it appeared to be near the bead. The more I messed with it the more I couldn’t find the hole. After wasting a lot of time because I didn’t want to put a tube in, I resorted to popping the bead, removing the rimstrip and putting a tube in. As I’m doing this Buck (’05 SSWChamp), Keith (Topher’s buddy) and a few other SSrs rode by. Damn, that’s not good. I finally got it all back together and jumped back in line in and around Danielle (Slingshot).

The ridgeline had a few bends that brought you to a short 10ft hike-a-bike. This was frustrating with everyone stopping so I shouldered the bike (good cyclocross practice) and ran around everyone. Did this a few times and got pass the bottle-neck. I eventually caught up to Michelle (VisitPA.com) going into the descent. She offered to let me pass but I declined knowing my rigid fork would slow me. She disappeared and I took a beating on the descent. My hands were moving inside my gloves and my right palm was burning. My waterbottle cage was also rattling now. WTF? I checked everything out prior to leaving Saturday and my bike was 100% good to go. First a flat, now a loose bottle cage and pump. The descent continued and I was on the brakes way more than I wanted. My right hand was getting worse.

Eventually got to the bottom and rolled out onto some fireroad. I knew aid station 2 was right up the road so I left the waterbottle cage alone. I also had a funny feeling that descent put a huge blister on the palm of my right hand. Not good. Slowly caught up to this fixed rockstar but couldn’t quite catch him. Rolled into aid station 2. Refilled my bottles and tightened up my water bottle cage. Didn’t think to ask for gauze to wrap my hand (go figure).

Away I go climbing the second big climb of the day. I remember this one from last year for we do it twice in the race (at mile 35 where I was and at mile 90). It was a gravel climb around Trimble and Elkhorn Mountains and up onto Hinkley and Lookout Mountain. I felt good and rode it strong. There was one singlespeeder who passed me at the bottom and I couldn’t quite bridge up to him ‘till near the top. Somewhere up on Hinkley Mountain (near mile 40) the fire road turned into singletrack and it got steeper. Now I was doing the old walk/run and ride routine. This got me up to that SSr and we stuck together for a bit. At the top we ducked into a nice, smooth, singletrack descent. This descent is my favorite for it winds around the mountain with plenty of time to see far up the trail so you can really gain some speed. Its all mostly a traverse with lots of tight tress you can hook your bars on. Reminds me of the descents on Brush Mountain down in Blacksburg VA. Somehow I was out front leading a relatively large group down this descent. I’m hand is irritating me more now and I felt like I was holding everyone back but I couldn’t quite hear anyone right on my wheel. Guess I was going fast enough.

We caught up to quite a few people and they let us pass them. Also came by my teammate Joey as he was messing with his rear SS hub. Once at the bottom we had a short doubletrack ride into aid station 3 at mile 45. On-track for a sub-10hr finish. I picked up my drop bag and asked for a medic. Pulled off my right glove to find a blister the size of a half dollar and the outer layer of skin pulled off. The medic put some antiseptic on and wrapped my hand in lots of gauze. My lower back was killing me from the climb so I asked for 1200mg of Ibuprofen. Got a warning that 600mg is the max dose but I insisted on 1200mg. Refilled my bottles, had a few words with Joey as he was trying to fix his rear hub and then was on my way.

This part sucked. We’re on the road (state route 250) going up to the next climb. Its false flat and is deceiving. No place to rest, pedaling constantly. I cruised this with the SSr I followed up the last climb. Cool guy from DC doing his first 100miler. Finally off the road to the next singletrack climb. I couldn’t ride this last year and rode most of it this year. Felt good and was stoked to ride it. One SSr pulled on ahead of me. I went into the singletrack descent with no one infront of me and a fixie behind me. It was a fun descent but, alas, the rocky sections killed me with my hand and lack of suspension. Again, going slower than I wanted to ride. Eventually got to the bottom and rolled into aid station 4 (mile 57) at Braley’s Pond. Refilled a bottle and took off. Spent very little time there.

Back on the road past aid station 3 (we just did a 12mile loop) and enroute for the biggest climb of the day…. It was a relentless 18mile climb to aid station 5 that spanned 1500-2000 ft of vertical. All on fire roads and mostly in the sun. That was just to aid station 5. From there we had probably another 1000ft to the summit. I caught up to the SSr that pulled away from me on the previous climb. Nice to see him a 29r. We chatted for a bit. He was running a 32x20 I believe and I was on my 34x20 (hence how I caught up to him on the flat). I pulled away and was on my own again. This fire road seemed to be pretty busy with vehicular traffic too. I kept sucking dust. As the road slowly pitched upwards I was gaining on a few people. One of which kept standing up and was pedaling slowly (oohh. Another singlespeeder). This is good news. Couldn’t quite catch up to him by the time we got to aid station 5. I stopped and he kept on going. I needed a break. Refilled my bottles, grabbed my drop bag, sat down and figured out what I wanted in my jersey pockets. From here its still a bit of a climb to the top. (A climb that mentally broke me last year for I wasn’t ready for it.) Then a descent into aid station 6 (also aid station 3), then another climb to a descent to the finish. I knew once I crested this ridge things were smooth sailing. Maybe a minute or two goes by and I somehow convinced myself I’m good to go. On the bike for some more climbing.

I knew this climb had a bunch of false summits. It would climb and then you’d get to a field thinking you’re at the top. This is how I fell apart last year. This year I used those fields to convince me I’m one more field down rather than “Am I there yet?”.. Yup, positive reinforcement. The funny thing was I had no idea how many fields I had to go through before I got to the top.

Something clicked for I was motoring up this. I felt great and kept on pushing along at a pace faster than I held on all the earlier climbs. Passed Cheryl Sorenson (Trek East Coast Factory Team) and eventually caught up to Michelle.
Encouraged Michelle (or rather later confused her) by stating Cheryl was a way back and didn’t look too good. Kept on pushing and finally reached the summit (around mile 82 I presume). By now I was riding for 9hours and my hopes of finishing the race in under 10hours were fading fast. Time to start the very long, rocky singletrack descent down Chestnut Ridge. My right hand was killing me and I was on the brakes way too much (hmmm. See a common theme/weakness this year?). I figured Michelle would catch me but she never did. I came across that SSr from earlier changing a flat tire. I had no idea who he was but as I rode by we both stared at each other thinking as if something big is happening. Well, that was an important point in the race and I’ll explain later.

Finally got to the bottom. Took me way longer than I really wanted. Right turn onto a paved road and I’m at the final aid station (#6 at mile 88). Refilled my two bottles and saw Cheryl roll into the aid station ahead of Michelle. Huh? Last I saw Michelle was ahead of Cheryl. Either way, I took off up the last climb of the day. This was the same climb I did earlier at mile 31/35 only this time we didn’t go all the way to the top. Something clicked and I was once again motoring up this thing at a pace faster than any climb I rode earlier (including this one).

If the last grueling climb didn’t kill anyone, this one will. It’s a kicker at mile 88/90 and you have to do it to get over the mountain range and down into the Stokesville campground. I didn’t see any singlespeeders but passed quite a few geared riders. They were crawling in their small chainrings and big cogs out back. I passed them like they were standing still. It felt so good for it made me think I was flying and also I had no ounce of cramping or signs of muscle cramping. So? I push harder knowing this it the last climb and kept staring at my watch hoping I can reach the finish in under 10hours. I was breathing as hard as I did at the start and knew I was on the cusp of being anerobic. It didn’t matter. If I did cramp I could nurse it along for I wasn’t too far from the finish.

Got to the top and started the descent. Again, rocky singletrack and my right hand and upper body were saying “NO” but I ignored and pushed on despite the pain. Son-Of-A….. I just saw my watch tick over 4:30pm (10hrs of riding) and I’m not at the finish. Not too far later I round a few bends on this doubletrack and I see some people and a ton of flags pointing into some singletrack. “You’re almost there. Campground is right down the trail.” Sweet!

I let go of the brakes and ignored the pain in my right hand. Flew through the upper portion of the campground locking my rear tire and sliding the bike around the turns in a drift. Then it opens into the grassy field. There are two rollers I launched over and then a sharp 120deg turn and a 30yard sprint to the finish.


  • 10hours 7minutes 14sec (just shy of my goal of a sub-10hr finish)
  • 41minutes faster than last year (and on a rigid fork this year -vs- suspension last year)
  • 17th singlespeed finish out of 60+
  • 101st overall finish out of 400+
  • 12,000 to 14,000 ft of climbing in 100miles
  • 1 flat tire
  • 1 loose water bottle cage
  • 1 blister the size of a half dollar in my right palm
  • 1 warped brake rotor due to excessive heat
  • 1200mg Ibuprofen for lower back spasms
  • 5 Gu gels
  • 6 Endurolyte pills
  • 4 flasks of Perpetuem
  • 10 bottles of Accelerade
  • NO cramping
  • solid levels of strength the whole day
  • 34x20 was my gear ratio of choice for the day

TimmyD and Buck were sitting just beyond the finish watching everyone. I walked over to say hello. Saw Keith. He finished 19mins in front of me. We exchanged identical thoughts of “Will I catch Keith at the next aid station?” and “Will Doug catch me at the next aid station?” like my comeback at the Mohican. Hahaha. So funny that we both thought of that independently. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite bridge that gap. I contribute it to my numb hand and my willingness to let the rigid fork get the best of me.

Remember that singlespeeder I passed on the Chestnut Ridge downhill? The one changing his flat tire? Well, I saw him cross the finish line a few minutes behind me. Turns out it was Thomas Greene (Blesso Consulting). I’ve never met him until the awards ceremony but he was the guy trailing me by a few short points in the overall series contention. I was freaking out a little leading up to this race not knowing who he is, what he looks like, and how to keep tabs on him during this race. I finally decided to just ride my race and let things work themselves out naturally.

The Shenandoah Mountain 100 was also the 2007 National Ultra Endurance 100miler Mountain Bike series finale. The events of the SM100 led to Dejay Birtch taking first overall SS with myself coming in 2nd and Thomas Greene coming in 3rd.

Thanks for the photo Danielle.


Blogger gwadzilla said...

good job out there!

I was shooting for a sub ten hour finish myself


no one told me you had to train to achieve such a thing

I just figured it I wanted it
I could have it

early in the race i settled into a more moderate groove

accepting I would not be faster than years prior

accepting I would finish when I finished if I finished

9/10/2007 6:40 PM  

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