I had been wanting to do one of these 100 mile races for a while, so when Les the International Man of Mystery sent me an email with the link to registration I signed up. I was excited and nervous all at the same time.
On Saturday morning Les and I made our way to the Stokesville Camp grounds in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. The weekend started off great, we hit no traffic on the way down. We managed to camp near some folks we knew at what I think was the best site there was.
You can't tell by this picture, but the view was awesome.
Once we were all set up it was time to eat and chill. We were hanging out with Elk, Tom McMillar, the current Rally King, Bender, Buck and his wife, Cheryl and her husband Lee, and Big Jake.
I have to mention how well this event is run. Chris Scott does a world class job. You definitely get your money's worth. From the free camping to the two meals, not to mention best racer support I have ever experienced.
After a poor nights sleep (because I forgot my pillow) the 5:00am wake up call came rolling through, time to get ready for the 6:30 start.
I had a loose plan, start easy, let all the fast starters go and hope to see them on the first climb. The first 3 miles were pretty flat so I saw a whole lot of people roll by me. Finally the road started going up, and a lot of folks were coming back. I had no idea how long the first climb was so I just settled in. I even walked a couple of the steeper sections hoping to save some energy. This climb wasn't too bad and I felt pretty good. After rolling across the ridge a while we headed down hill. WEEEEEEEE. The descent drops you into Aid Station 1 which I rolled through because 2 wasn't that far away. I wanted to keep going until aid station 3. After another long climb and fun descent I rolled up to aid station 2. This is where I made my first mistake. I figured 3 was only 13 miles away so I rolled through, I should have stopped for a snack. I had plenty of fluids and I was eating what I thought was enough so I rolled through. Not realizing the next climbing was probably the 2nd hardest of the race.
There was a lot of wet off camber single track on this climb and I found myself caught behind a group that couldn't ride for shit. This sucked because there was no room to get around and I ended up walking a lot more that I would have. Once we finally reached the top I on the down hill. This was where I found myself making up time. Who would have thought I could make up time descending on a single speed, but my beautiful Spot Brand 29er was flying. Like most of the downhills this one started off really steep. I was passing a lot of people when I hit a wet root and got thrown into a different trajectory that just happened to have a tree in the middle of it. Needless to say the tree won. I got a nice bruise and a broken pop lock lever out of it.
After taking a couple of minutes to adjust my brake lever I was off and rolling again. It was a long 13 miles but I was finally at aid station 3. The volunteers were nothing short of amazing. They took my bike and lubed the chain and filled my camelbak and water bottles, they make you feel like a rock star. I only hung out long enough to take in some food, refill my hammer gel and say thank you. next came my favorite part of the race. The descent to aid station 4 was on one of the sweetest pieces of single track I have ever ridden. I didn't want it to end.
Next stop was aid station 4. This was where I had my first drop bag. I was greeted by Dave Crouse, a Delaware guy who now lives in Virginia. He handed me my drop bag and took my bike. I tried to eat as much as I could because the big climb was next.
The roll out of 4 was a long section of flat road, I found myself getting passed by all the guys on gears again but I was confident I would see most of them again. The big climb starts off as nice easy false flat. Then it slowly starts get just a little steeper. I hooked up with a guy named Ray, he too was on a Spot 29er. Ray had done this race before and was kind enough to tell me what to expect. This climb was over 20 miles long, I was about 5 or 6 miles into it when it really started to hurt. Up until this day the farthest I had ridden a mountain bike was about 50 miles, I was now 67 miles in.
I knew I had to get to aid station 5 by 4:30 to avoid needing a light. Since I didn't have one in my drop bag, not making the cut off was not an option. I rolled into aid station 5 with over an hour to spare. I ate more drank more and took off once again. The good news was I was now 76 miles into the race, the bad news was there still about 8 miles to go before the top. Yeah there were a couple of short down hills but not enough to get excited about.
About 2 miles from the top I was in a bad place. I was cramping really bad, I was feeling pain I never thought existed. I just kept telling myself to keep moving. No matter how slow I was going, whether walking or riding I was inching my way closer to the finish.
After the summit it was time to rock out. I couldn't go up hill very well, but I was still able to descend pretty fast. Next stop was aid station 6 the last station and only 12 little miles from the finish. This was Wes the conqueror's station. After some encouraging words and some coca cola I was off again. I knew there was only 1 climb left, I heard it wasn't that bad, it was only 2 miles long. Well, when you are spent and you a hit a 2 mile climb 92 miles into a race it sucks. I rode and I walked, I was hoping for some last few miles magic but there wasn't any left. This climb was different than the others because once I hit the top, it never went down then back up. The last descent was great, I knew it was all down hill to the finish. The next thing I know I am seeing campsites and I know I am almost done. I hear Les the boys cheering for me as I roll by our camp, then I finally cross the finish line and get handed a pint glass. I can't believe I am done. I look at my watch and see it took me 11:32, I was hoping for under 11 but I was no where near disappointed.
It took a while for things to sink in, but after a while I was really glad I did it and next year I know what to expect and I plan on doing it in under 10 hours.
I want to thank Chris Scott for putting on this event, the guys running the kitchen for making sure every last rider got to eat when they were done, and the volunteers that took great care of us at the aid stations. This would not have been possible with out the people at Spot Brand bikes, Or the folks at Twin Six makers of the finest cycling jerseys around, the endless support from Henry's Bike Shop, and most of all my wife Rachael.