16 September 2012

The END!!!

No, this is not Cambodia...pretty wild lookin' huh?

At Raven Rock State Park

Lookin' over the Cape Fear

It rained today....so??


Autumn comes around this week.
Starting to feel a little hint of the change coming. 

09 September 2012

The Shenandoah Mountain 100

Hooray for singletrack

Got out on Saturday to mark the section of the course from North River Campground out to Aid Station 3. It was fun to ride with Jason and to help out with the event. 

So yes, I'm a week late on talking about my SM100 experience this year. That's exactly what it was, an experience. A weekend of camping, visiting with my many cycling friends, and spending a full day in the mountains riding my bike, hitting some of the best trails in the GW.

This year was made quite interesting with the entrance of broken up cells of the hurricane coming out of the Midwest. Typically it is quite chilly at Stokesville in the evening before the 100, but this year, the humidity was high and it was quite warm. I had a difficult time getting to sleep and felt quite clammy in my tent.

Felt pretty good when I got up to start the race and was ready to go. Lined up with Luke, Liew, and Gavin, and then we were rolling. I felt great at the start, I've put in a lot of miles this year, and had some really big rides under my belt. I new I could start decently strong, I was hoping to get in a groove early, and maybe get out ahead of some of the Narrowback carnage...

Somehow, it started to unravel going up Lynn...YES going up Lynn EARLY in the race. My legs started to cramp. WHAT?? I don't cramp much when I ride, maybe at the end of super long rides, but not like this. After walking the top of Lynn to stretch out the legs, I cruised out Wolf Ridge hoping to settle down and shake out what was going on in my legs. I spent the downhill feeling very poorly, and just hoping to keep it together till I got to Aid Station 2. Really?? I got out onto Tilman road, and then it got worse. Both legs locked up, and I had to get off the bike for about 5 minutes. Honestly, my left leg would not move it all, it was surprisingly scary and painful, I had never quite experienced it before. Was I really going to have to quit at 2, could I even make it to 2 under my own power??? Ugh...my "race" was over at this point...could I even finish?

Ok, so Misty rolled up and it was helpful to chat with a friend as I rolled in to 2, endurolytes, salty food, coke, and Jess helping me out brought me back to the world a little and I was convinced I would at least try to make it to 3. If I was going to quit, at least I could ride Dowells. The rain started to fall and climbing up Hankey was sloooow. I had already lost Luke on Wolf, Gavin had passed me as I stood on Tilman, and now Liew was passing me. The cramps had seemed to suck all of the strength from my legs...it was humbling, but I was still moving...I'll have to quit at 3...Rolling down Dowells help my mental being A LOT as it is crazy fun, and when I rolled into 3 look who was there! I found Gavin, and Luke. Luke had some flat trouble, and a slight shin injury on Dowells, and I guess I made up some time on Gavin on the downhill...who knows. Liew was ahead...Hey this is great, maybe I can jump on with these guys and at least make it to 4...more endurolytes, more salt, and more great help from the volunteers!!! more gel, ok, I think I can make it.

On we go, and so did the rain. Another stormed rolled in on us out on Rt250, and it was raining hard and the thunder was rolling. We made the climb up Bridge Hollow...man do I love that climb, it rolls and climbs so well, and before you know it, youre ready to head down Braleys. Oh man Braley's, the mud was incredible. I had to stop many times for mud in my eye, near misses with trees...it was crazy, I was covered in mud. Uh oh...are the cramps coming back?? Ugggh, well, now we are at 4...wow I'm at 4 and still riding?? Man, Larry is still rollin!

More food, more endurolytes, clean my bike, and my face, and we are rollin. Finally I'm feeling better, this is great...and now the sun is coming out! I had forgotten my light, but prior to the race was confident that I would not need it, but by now I was worried. Will I make the cut off? How can I get a light if I need it? I was really wanting to finish now. I had made it this far despite everything else. We made it to the first little hill where the Wild Oak Trail crosses the road, and I felt strong again. I was sorry to do it, but at that point I wanted to get to five as fast as I could to make the cut off. I left Luke and Gavin behind.. I knocked out the climb, and was feeling pretty good at the top, the views off to West Virginia were amazing, as the sun was out and shining. Man it is so great to up on that mountain!! Hey, there's aid 5...sweet. Plenty of time to spare for the cutoff.

Got the hook up from the SVBC volunteers, water, gatorade, coke, salt, endurolytes...Hey Luke is here! Still no Liew...Luke said he was suffering on the climb and was a little down and going dark and thinking to bail at 5, but we got it together and rolled out. There is a lot work to be done after 5, and the fireroad traverse out to Little Bald was a muddy, sloppy, jungle. Lucas gapped me here, my bike wouldn't shift to the little chainring and I was stalling on some of the little short steep pulls. That's ok, let him go, and I'll bring him back on Chestnut. Rolling down Chestnut was great. I caught Luke, and we passed quite a few others. We ran into Misty again, and then we caught up with Liew!!! It was fun to drop off the mountain with a good crew and we all rolled into 6 together. By this time I was just wiped, the cramps had killed my legs, and with the muscles so done, my knees were much more stressed than normal. Everything had taken its toll, but screw it, we were finishing. Misty rolled on without stopping, but I needed some salt, endurolytes, and ibu. I also had my bike cleaned up a bit and it was finally shifting again. Jess hooked us up great! Thanks volunteers!

Told you it was muddy...

The three of us cruised our way over and up Hankey one more time, and made the left turn. Made it up the one pitch, and then rolled down Shaffer Hollow. We all then rolled out to and back down into the campground. Luke, Liew, and I crossed the line all together at 11:51. Considering everything that happened out there, I was very very happy to have finished, and he we still made it in under 12. Whew, it wasn't the race I was hoping for, or the time I was shooting for, and I have certainly felt better on my bike. But, all of that is OK. I put in a long day, got to ride chat, and see a ton of my great friends, and got to experience an interesting variation on a wonderful event. We can all say, that hey, we were there for the SM100 in '12 with the rain, storms, mud, and wackiness, and we finished it. Considering the bad way I was in out on Tilman, just making it in to say thanks to Chris and ring the gong was superb.

I think in the results Liew got credit as first out of us three, and then Luke, and then me...whaaaat??? haha

I spent the evening, eating, chatting with great friends, and just enjoying being there. It was good to see my friends from the burg. I miss being there, and maybe Lemma and I can get back there in a few more years.

That is my last race this year...I've been chilling out this week, going for some walks, hikes, and healing my body. I am soooooo looking forward to the festival! Fall is coming, and that means 100% fun rides, the festival, cooler air, colors, and maybe goofing around at some cross events.

Thanks so much to Shenandoah Mountain Touring for putting on such a good time. Chris and Ian, and all of the SMT crew put it on in fine fashion once again. Thanks to Bikes Unlimited of Lynchburg, VA for so much great support, and thanks sooo much for all of the volunteers. It if were not for their help, encouragement, and support at each station, it would have been much more difficult to make it through this year.

That was a LOT of words for this blog...I'm sorry. I need to work on my bike...