Sunday, August 05, 2007
Last year I saw the Wilderness 101 and thought that it could be something cool to do. I decided this year to go for it, worst case scenario not finish, best case, podium for the Single Speed class.
Mountain bike racing is pretty cool because camping out the night before is socially acceptable and totally condoned! Imagine showing up at the registration for Altoona and asking where people are setting up tents. When I got to the park at about 7pm, there were at least 100 people there already to camp.
I talked to the Butler dudes for awhile before bed. Justin had gotten 9th the year before and gave me a heads up about some of the course. Eric said that there were going to be downhills that I would want to walk.
Some dude walks around with a gong at 5am to get everybody up. I percolated some espresso and had a peanut butter bagel. I talked to gunner about tire pressure, suspension and hydration. He did well the year before.
250 people line up and we are off. It was nice, not like a road race where everybody is jockeying for the first climb. I guess some people woke up and said "Im going for a 12 hour bike ride today." I was hoping for about 9.
On the first climb, the field strung out. I got to tell Tinker that Danny Chew is a big fan of his. Tinker big ringed most of america during RAAM. He didnt go into the little ring until West Virginia.
We were whittled down to a group of like 25 by the first feed, we blew through it and around a gate, up a double track climb. I stuck with the lead group of 8. I was feeling pretty good until the descent. I got dropped hard. This led into some single track with a bunch of rocks and bridges and stuff. I saw Von Leecher and he asked why I was riding a rigid bike. Because it is all that I have.
Out of the single track, Andy Gorski appeared behind me. I thought it was Gerry Pflug for some reason, but he had already flatted. I climbed at my pace, and put some time into Andy before the descent. This seemed to be the formula for the day: Climb a dirty road, descend on SUPER GNARLY single track with tons of rocks.
Andy made the time back on me and we worked together going into Aid station #2. He was riding really well, real smooth. I would draft off of him and pull on all the uphills, otherwise I was pretty much spun out.
We rolled into station number 2 and I filled my bottles, grabbed a few bars and headed out, eating as I started the next dirt climb. Andy had some special drink in his drop bag that made him go fast all day, so he was mixing that together.
After 20 minutes of climbing I ran into Von Leecher again. He dumped ice water on me. It was one of the best feelings ever. He said I was in 7th place. He said there was a technical descent coming up.
This is where the story goes bad. I passed up the turn for the singletrack. I rode right past it. Up until that point, and following that point every turn had caution tape across the road where you had to turn in. I went all the way to the bottom of the hill, didnt see any arrows or signs of a bike race. I knew I had passed it up. Part of me wanted to quit, part wanted to cry, and part was pissed at spending 160 dollars to enter a race and not being given a fair chance at seeing how I would do.
I climbed the 20 minutes back up the hill and turned into the singletrack.
Nate passed me, I flatted, I was frustrated and pissed and pretty much rode the rest of the day to finish. I flatted 2 more times, for a total of 3. I also managed to crash pretty good at one point as well.
During the tour of Ohio, Minturn had a plan to get away and hide, then jump back into the pack and let people think he was away the whole time. As far as I know, Wes thought that I was away. My prediction is that he would have passed me in the singletrack after feed number 3. That stuff was awful. At that point, my upper body was really really hurting. My chest of all things started feeling like I had broken ribs. It hurt to breath really deep, and my arms were just exhausted.
At the begining of the day, when I put my sportsbalm chamois cream on, I thought about how my ass was going to be whooped, but it turns out that I was out of the saddle on 90% of the singletrack. My arms are mad sore today, but my butt feels fine.
When I finally rolled into the finish, not knowing what place/time I was in, I saw Andy Gorski and he had a relieved look on his face. He never passed me, and I didnt finish in front of him, and he was worried about me. That is a good guy. From feed station #2 where I left him, until the end, the only person to beat him was Wes. He ended up 8th I think. Impressive.
Afterward, I ate 3 veggie burgers and hung out with the Western PA/West virginia people. Gunnar called Ibprofin "vitimin I" I must be getting old, because I have taken it maybe 3 times in the last 10 years, 2 of them in the last 2 weeks. I feel like I did when I rode BMX, I constantly have a sore or an ache or a bad this or that. Oh well.