Damn, I’m sweating already just getting my bike and my kit ready. It’s soooo humid. I’m fussing with the GoPro, but today it’s just not going to make it. I’ve had to make some last minute adjustments to my seat mounted tool bag and tube strategy and I burned up all my time. No warm up, but really, that’s probably just fine.
It’s always good to say hi to all my friends at the start line. Having a relaxing chat with good racing buddies is much better than being stressed out about strategy and the like. I forgot some of my food, Doh! No worries, no time to change right before the start.
We’re off! Alright everyone, let’s just get to the pavement with no dramatics.
Conditions were much drier this year, and when we started climbing festival this was evident. There are a few small rock sections that folks spun out on last year, but this time the climb was going a lot smoother. I settled in behind a few riders on Narrowback then had a lot of fun chasing another rider on the upper part of the tower trails. We were having fun hitting the sweet table top jumps and railing the corners.
I settled in with a pace line on Tillman and picked the pace up a bit as we headed for the paved road section leading to briery branch dam. I was getting some low back pain and wondered if I had set my saddle up correct when I swapped sea posts the other day.
Lynn trail was nice and dry, and in great shape after all the awesome trail wok to get it ready for the race. I was pleased, having managed to clean pretty much the whole climb. The secret to Lynn is to not push too hard in any one spot, but to take it at a light to moderate pace, and then crush the ridgeline and descent on Wolf Ridge.
I rode the majority of Tillman back to Aid 2 solo. I tried to pace line with another rider but he was just a bit stronger than I could go. So after a couple of pulls I popped off. However, I knew the pet cemetery area was coming up were Tillman heads mostly downhill back towards aid 2. Another pace line invited me to join and soon I was rolling into Aid 2 with a fast group.
I called out for my bag and the awesome volunteers had it to me in short order. They always take such great care of us racers!
The climb up Hankey was a sharp contrast to the first to two climbs. Basically an “easy” gravel climb instead of single track. I always find single track easier because it takes my mind off the toil. Another racer voiced some solid advice that I’ve also come to learn over the past few years. Ride the grass between the double track if it’s not too high. Usually it’s a bit smoother and less sandy than the mild double track ruts.
OK, so now my lower back was hurting more than it should, I backed off the pace a bit and that helped, but I needed to go a little slower than I wanted to.
Eventually Hankey Mountain’s rolling gravel gave way to a very steep grassy climb towards Dowels Draft. A super strong single speeder rode passed me in one spot laying down the Watts. The rest of Hankey went well and I rallied down Dowel’s Draft snagging a pass here and there and then ripped down to the final set of jumps into aid 3.
Ahhhh… 250… I always cramp up a bit on the road section of 250. Sure I play switch foot on Dowel’s but I always cramp a bit here. Nothing a little diesel fumes from a dually hauling ass a few feet off your left shoulder can’t cure. Get R Done!
OK, everyone needs to thank Bryan Wright for clearing a sweet line in the rocks that cross the creek just before the climb up Bridge Hollow. It’s super sweet to ride that bit!
Bridge Hollow is a tough climb, but if your patient, you can clean the whole thing. Definitely a case where a bit of tortoise works in your favor. I’ve seen a lot of rabbits charge this and then fall over on techy bits. Fortunately, I had a good run, with just a minor dab in one of the rock gardens.
The descent down Braley’s was fast, dry, and loose. Good stuff. One of my favorite descents in Virginia, just watch that last right.
On the next bit of trail an unfortunate rider crashed a bit in front of me and I believe he broke his nose. He was walking along OK, in some pain no doubt, but he indicated he would be alright. So I rolled to aid 4 got my drops, and gave them a heads up about the injured rider.
Soon I passed some oncoming racers from aid 3 and set to knocking out the pavement and gravel leading to the death climb. A couple of guys on road bikes passed me, but declined to trade whips for this section.
I don’t think it’s the “death climb” that gets me. I always have trouble on the deceptive climb up the fire road leading to the death climb. It doesn’t look bad, but it always seems to punch me square in the nuts. This day was no different, and I felt awful as I got into the climb to aid 5. That’s when I knew something had to give.
If you can’t change the player, change the game.
So I stopped, took a break to eat some cliff blocks, and drank some water.
I knew I did not have in me what I needed to push the pace I wanted to...I wanted to stop.
So I changed my goals away from a good finish time, got my mind into party pace, and shifted into ‘fuck it’.
The rest of the climb up to aid 5 was much more pleasant now. Sure, a steady parade of riders was passing me, and it was fine. I’ve done enough of these 100 milers not to get too serious. I mean, I still wanted to crush it, but I had a new reality to deal with, and going fast was just not in cards at that moment. I looked at wild flowers as I creeped up to aid 5 and dreamt of PBR hand-ups. I spent some time at aid 5 and got some much needed supplies. The rest of the endless double track climbs and grassy fields went by OK and I got my spirit and my legs back just as the Chesnutt descent began. I had a lot of fun attacking the loose and rocky turns and chutes. I crossed my fingers mentally a few times as I felt my rear rim ting off the off rock or three. Stan’s No Tubes baby, tube less is the only way to go!
Freshly invigorated, I skipped aid 6 and powered the pavement back for the second climb up Hankey. I made it up better than I thought I would, but not as fast as I wanted to. A fellow racer was holding my tail as we zoomed down Shaffer Hollow. I enjoyed having someone to keep me honest on the last descent and felt pretty good when he revealed that he was on a 6 six inch travel bike. That’s a lot of bike for 100 miles!
I rolled a section of the last bit of gravel with an SM100 legend, Ramponi. He was on his trip-cycle, and you know he was on it All Day!
Finally, the bomber section through the camp ground led way to the best finish of any hundred out there. It’s like rolling into heaven, with cheers all around, all your great friends, and a well-earned sense of self accomplishment and triumph.
Thank you so much to Chris Scott, everyone at Shenandoah Mountain Touring, and all the incredible volunteers!
Not my best finish time at the SM100, but not my worst either. I came in with a smile, and really that’s the only result that matters.
Oh Yeah, some highlights from the results:
1 Jeremiah Bishop
2 Sam Koerber
3 Brian Schworm
4 Keck Baker
5 Cameron Cogburn
6 Gered Dunne
8 Ryan Steers
9 Lee Hauber
10 Joe Fish
1 Selene Yeager
2 Laura Hamm
3 Kaysee Armstrong
4 Trish Koerber
5 Carla Williams
6 Linda Shin
7 Anne Pike
8 Misty Tilson
9 Simona Vincenciova
10 Denelle Grant
1 Gordon Wadsworth
2 Gerry Pflug
3 Ernesto Marenchin
4 Daniel Rapp
5 Donald Powers
6 Dennis Baldwin
7 Dwayne Goscinski
8 Watts Dixon
9 Todd Ace
10 Peat Henry
1 Roger Masse
2 Henry Loving
3 Alex Hawkins
4 Anthony Hergert
5 Michael Ramponi
6 Terry Blanchet
7 Michael Boyes
8 David Jolin
9 Jim Miller
10 Joseph Baremore
1 Joshua Draper
2 John Lewis
3 Joel Kelly
4 Mark Bates
5 Chad Sexton
6 Sid Rappe
7 Robbe Smith
8 Brian Parr
9 Tim Kelley
10 Daniel Abate