Well I'm back with the SM100 fully in the bag and I just have to say.... Actually I don't really know what to say. I'm kind of speechless. Here's the story according to cycling news:
Here's my recap.
I got into the campsite Friday night around 10 and got setup and got a decent night's sleep. Saturday I had a nice lazy day with a little hour and 10 minute spin up the road to the first climb where I put in a 3 minute effort and then turned around and rolled gently back to the camp. The legs were feeling good and the climb was fairly effortless. After all it was only 3 minutes and the big climb the next day was 18 miles. So for the remainder of the day I just chilled with a few teammates and friends, had a nice pasta dinner that the Shenandoah folks provided, and turned in early to get ready for the Sunday festivities. My thoughts were that I felt pretty good but I wouldn't really know until I was in the middle of battle on raceday. The other thing that worried me was that on the preride I noticed a bearing that seems to have a dead spot in my crank. Wonderful. Also my back brake was feeling squishy and I hoped I wouldn't have any issues on race day. So off to sleep I went and as usual I didn't have a good sleep as I was anticipating the race so I could only do what I could do.
Awake at 4:30 and the campground already had a quiet bustle about it. Warming up my water to choke down my oatmeal I was feeling very unsure about the race but was willing to give it a go. 5:15 the gong was traveling around the cground and before I knew it, it was approaching 6:30 and I was off to line up with no warmup. Knowing last year I fought through most of the field, I lined up to the side of the start to try and get a nice position. It worked. The neutral start wasn't so neutral as we were traveling fairly quickly down the cground exit and onto the pavement. Once we hit the bridge the pace quickened and around the first turn onto dirt the pace lifted again. I hung with the lead group for the first 6 miles or so and then I knew I needed to ride within my limits to finish this thing so I dropped back and rode my own pace. I blazed through aid #1 and down the gravel I went catching a wheel to help recover and prep for the next climb.
We made a left onto the pavement and soon the group of two turned to a group of 6 or so. We climbed the pavement pace-lining and got in a nice order for the steep climb ahead. This is where you DON"T want to be bottlenecked. I was in a strong group so everyone was steady and solid on this climb. We cranked to the top dismounting on one rugged section but rode the rest. Hit the top and started the descent catching someone's wheel very quickly. I start hearing this woman's voice from behind me and was wondering who it was. Sure enough it was Sue Haywood. I bobbled on a couple of features and she showed me how to ride them as I watched from the side of the trail. Shortly after Gunner Shogren came up and came through as I was bobbling as a result of shifting issues. I caught up with him a bit later as he dropped his chain. So back to the fire roads I was off to aid #2 flying solo. Just before aid 2 I caught Sue and two other riders came up, Brad and ?. So we worked together and hit aid #2. Grabbed a bottle and I was off.
Sue, Brad, and I worked together into the Hankey Mtn climb and once again I had to back off to ride within my limits. This was just as Gunnar came flying through and made me look like I was standing still on his SS. This climb was actually a lot easier than I remember. It was looking good but I was still tentative about the next climb and then the 18 mile one after that. That's where I cracked last year and it wasn't good from there on out. So charging the top of Hankey I let it fly on the descent and was having a blast on that sweet benched singletrack. Having a blast and pumping my back brake because it was becoming inconsistent and would pull all the way back to the bar at times. Not what you really want on these screaming descents but I worked with it and tried to let it not bother me. Actually at one point I was getting held up by a rider and couldn't see my line well and went down hard luckily falling to the good side. I got up collected myself and promptly got back on the wheel I was chasing earlier. Soon after rolling into aid #3 for two bottles and some lube.
All was looking good so far but now it was the false flat road section that I had no one to work together with. I was hoping to work with someone but no luck. Here's where I had some trouble. I knew climb 4 was only 2 miles but it was a hard two mile climb. I struggled at one point and actually lost my balance and stepped off to the bad side. I went running down the hillside luckily catching a tree and getting back up to my bike with my legs starting to cramp. Great. To this point my nutrition and hydration was on but now I was questioning that. At that point I was having trouble just getting started so I pulled to the side as I let Roger Masse through. As quickly as I saw him he was now gone. I started to get some more juice and I topped the climb in better shape and started the descent. I worked the descent and railed it and took those couple small climbs at the bottom in stride and rolled into aid #4 for two bottles again.
On the road to the big climb I passed aid #3 and I just tried to set a solid pace. It was going well and I felt someone in my draft and I looked back to see Jason Hilimire sneaking up. I have read his blog a few times and it was cool to see him on the course and chat a bit. It was especially good since we were chatting on the 18 mile climb which seemed to help. We we were both feeling kinda iffy and hoping thing were going to change around. We caught another single speeder at some point and started rotating pulls to speed it up and it didn't last that long. We made some time but I was starting to feel crappy and I looked back and saw Jason was gone. Then I couldn't hang onto the SS'er. I was on my own now. I kept on it and got through a couple of nice punchy climbs until the hard right and the real climb was there. At one point I realized that my legs just weren't putting down what I thought I could. I decided to get my heart rate down and try to enjoy the climb. The day was nice and overcast and the scenery was gorgeous. So I turned it back and just gave it an ok effort. A few came through and I let them go just racing my race but it was hard knowing at this point that I was probably going to finish in 9:15 or 9:30. I wanted sub 9 badly but I knew the stars would have to align to get this done and it wasn't looking too hot. I believe it was about 7:00 when I got to the aid #5. And knowing that it was 25 miles in 2 hours was going to be hard to beat.
9:15 or 9:30 was settling in and I was content with that. It's been a long season and to do that at the SM100 was a feat in itself. So from aid #5 I got into the downhill and started climbing again. This went by faster than I remember and was really a lot of fun. Now my back brake was barely even there. So I was reduced to braking with 90% front brake on 40 mph gravel downhills. I wasn't too fond of that. Back to the road up to aid #6 I was riding with another rider and we were chatting about breaking the sub 9 hour mark. Riding up to aid #6 it was 1:10 til the 9 hour mark. It was possible but it was going to be painful. I didn't really think that I had it in my tank to do it. So I kept a steady pace and hoped for the best. I topped the last climb with 42 minutes til the 9 hour mark. I drilled that climb with all I had left. Down the fast downhill I flew and made the left onto the gravel fire road. I knew this had a couple of short climbs to ruin any motivation and hope of sub 9. So each one I hit, I hit even harder praying for that elusive mark. Then another, and another. I was just praying for that last left turn into the campground to come ASAP so it would all be over. It FINALLY did and I blasted down those final water bars - across the double grass jump - and around the horseshoe to the finish line. Somewhere in the low 9's would have been fine but I guess I was happy with what I finished in:
Holy Crap!!! I have no idea how that happened. I wasn't feeling stellar or even great. I guess I just rode consistently mediocre and that was good enough.
What a feeling crossing that line in 8:41. Last year's time was 10:39. That's 1:58 off of last year's time. I knew the conditions helped but the fitness just pulled me through somehow. It ends up I was 43rd overall and 36th in open mens. It's totally surprising considering there was 550 people there and a LOT of strong people. Truly a strong end to my 5th 100 miler of the year and a great way wrap up my season. I do have a couple of races left on the calendar but I was really vested in the NUE series and it's a relief for it to be over. Once again the SM100 people and Chris Scott put on one hell of an event!!! Thanks guys!!!