You know, I trained into the early spring for this race only to succumb to the pressures of life and slowly give up my season with the reasoning I needed time of the bike. I had no real reason to get off that thing except that I was slowly falling away from a sport I had done on and off for more than ½ my life. In early January I pre-entered the race with aspirations of a top 10 in the 100 mile event. By spring I was going to be lucky to get a top 10 in the 100k event.
One week before the race I decided maybe I shouldn’t even show up, just skip it and loose my entry. For some odd reason I decided to go down the night before and change my entry to the 100k on the single speed. It was going to suck because I hadn’t ridden more than 3 hours all spring and here I was entering a race that lasted 6 hours.
Photo by Aaron Holmes
I showed up with a stomach full of butterflies and enough doubt to make even Thomas look like the most optimistic and faithful. On the ride to the starting line I opened my mouth and inserted my foot pretty far down my throat to choke on it. I was riding with another rider and we were talking about proficiencies in racing and such when I mentioned that there were too many category 4 racers that need to move to category 3 and quit posing around the 4 field for 10 years or more. Seems like one of the guys had been a cat 4 for many many years and found my comment a little offensive - DOH!!
I milled around the start area for a little bit before the race and tried to get myself pumped up and catch up with all the latest BS from the guys I hadn’t seen all spring. It was time to line up and it was announced there would be a prime for the 1ft person to reach the city limits sign but the catch was, you had to finish the race to cash in on the $100 prize.
With a $100 prime on the line the start was extremely fast and with hundreds of riders vying for position and some for cash, things got hectic. Being on a single speed it was tough at 1st until the road turned upwards and the gear heads started downshifting and the single speeders moved through the pack passing those with poor climbing abilities.
By the time we hit the woods the trail was one long massive constipated snake going no where fast. People were in single file waiting for everyone in front to bust a move so I decided to ride around them and risk hitting a rock or stump hidden in the weeds. It worked out pretty well as I was moving forward by leaps and bounds. By the time we entered the state park section of the trail I was in the company of some fairly competent and fast riders going at a satisfactory pace. Following them would keep me from burning myself up before the end. When we reached what the locals call Mt. Doom the riders in front slowly started to drop like flies. By the time we reached the top there were only two left, Betsy Shogren and someone from team Lake Effect. The Lake Effect guy pulled off and I passed Betsy while passing through check point one.
More miles of sweeping fast single track and one hell of a hike a bike. Under normal hiking conditions this hill was more or less tamable by even the most out of shape hiker. Add a 25+ pound bicycle to the ascension and you go no where fast. The guy in front of you is only 10 yards away but by the time you reach the top he already has a 1/8 mile of single track between the two of you.
The trails finally give way to a short pavement section and some gravel roads that link you to the next section of single track. I caught up to Wes Jones of Soup Can Racing and was riding with him for a while. He seemed a little pissed for some reason and I wasn’t sure why. Found out later he was mad because I didn’t acknowledge him when I passed him on the trail earlier. I never saw their new team kits before so I figured it was just another schmuck in the race. On one of the hills the pace was getting low enough I had to start cranking or succumb to someone else’s cadence and suffer. Wes once again got upset because he thought I was attacking him and trying to drop him. I just didn’t want to pedal that slow and not having another gear to select, I had to go faster.
I entered the next section of single track with a couple riders hot on my tail. I kept them at bay for a while but I was riding at a pace I didn’t want to burn up at so I backed off and let them pass. It was Betsy! We rolled into check point 3 where the 100k and 100 mile separate, I grabbed a PBJ and Mt Dew and kept on rolling. Betsy took the 100 mile route and I took the sissy 100k. She went on to win the women’s 100 miler. When I left the split I never saw another bike until I reached the state park again. I entered the woods and came to a section bannered off. I knew Lorsen was ahead of me and couldn’t figure out where he went. I spent the better part of 10 minutes looking for the right trail and decided to go back to the entrance where people were yelling the signing was wrong and pointed the right way.
It was almost too late as the 3rd single speed, Wes Jones, was coming at me at full throttle. We hit the woods and started what would be a 6 mile battle at efforts well above what one would expect at a shorter race. My legs were cramping bad and the pain was getting annoying as was the fact I could barely bend them any more and I had to peg leg one climb that was too steep to pedal. On the downhill grades I would see Wes gaining on me only to drop him again on the next climb. After many burned turns and near misses with trees, rocks and logs the trail dropped out onto a gravel road. All I could do was spin as fast as possible knowing Wes’ bike was geared taller than mine. I spent what would be the last ½ mile spinning with one leg as my left quad was seized tighter than a rusty bolt on Chevette.
After I crossed the finish line I rolled up to Trek Rep. Bob Myers and dropped my bike. I couldn’t lift my leg to get off so I had to lay it down and walk away. In the end I was surprised to find out I did indeed finish 2nd and 11th overall. I won $100 which gave me a net profit of $1 after deducting the $99 entry.
I was surprised that I was able to do that well in a race that I hadn’t even trained for. Maybe next year I will get my head out of my ass and make the big show and try to beat Betsy. It’s a long shot but who knows, maybe I can beat her, if she gets a flat or two, or three…