Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Cohutta 100 NUE #1 Race Recap
The next morning we got up and had breakfast and started rolling the 1.5 mile trek over to the starting area. This worked out really well as I'm always super cold at the start and I actually got a nice 30 min warmup in before the gun went off. I pulled right into the middle of the front line and looked around at the nice company that was there. All the big guns that I've admired through the years were right along side of me. At least I'd see them for the start I thought. Glancing around I saw Tanguay, Pflug, Ferrari, Masse, Carter, Simonson, Montalbano, Sorenson, and many others that I am always impressed to be in the presence of. Of course last second came Jeremiah Bishop and after a short prayer the gun went off.
The race went off at 7am and I was content knowing I was actually warmed up for the start. We talked about an easy roll out to control the choke that came up shortly but Monte jumped and just cranked up the whole field. It goes hard for the first 2.5 mile climb out of the gate. My HR is screaming over LT as I shoot up the right side of the pack to tuck into the woods with the main group. I get in the long conga line into the single track as a rider or two shoots through and a bit later, 2nd place finisher on the day, Christian Tanguay shot through as I don't know how he got stuffed back there but I beat him for the first 3 miles anyway. So we sit in line and enjoy the tight singletrack goodness. At this point I'm sitting 26th and with a FAST group. It keeps on and hits the next good climb and I stay with the guys in front of me and we close the gap to a few others. At this point it's a group of 5 with Montelbano, Pflug, Ferrari, and some dude riding for Piggly Wiggly and we're freight training the singletrack. It was awesome and as it kicked up a bit steeper the singlespeeders took off and I just rode the wheel in front of me. As we hit the first sections of fireroad Monte and I dropped a few of the others with us and I rode his wheel and chatted with him for a bit. This kept on for the first 1/3 of the race. Monte soon walked away on a climb where I knew I had to ride within my pace.
Approaching the series of consistent and pitchy climbs, the surface got bad and it wasn't what I remembered. It looked like it was more recently graded and there was no good line. It slowed down the pace and made climbing so much harder than what I remembered. I looked down a bit later and realized I rode the first 40 miles of the race in just over 3 hours and was on a 7:30 pace. I knew I was going to pay for it later and Monte nicely reminded me of the same before I saw him depart. So I kept on the gas and limited my threshold efforts and got though the climbs I remembered were painful from previous races there. I did well and still rode solid for 4.5 hours or so. At that point there was a big decent, singletrack, and then a 2000 foot climb back out on fireroads. This is where I knew I was in trouble. My nutrition and hydration to this point was right on target but I knew I had burned a few too many matches earlier in the race. I had to moderate my efforts and really felt flat for the rest of the race.
I topped off the big climb finally and started rolling the hills I knew and picked up the pace a bit to help my placing. I took a downhill just like the rest and felt a rock hit the rim a little too hard. Up the next hill...yup...flat. So I was relaxed and pulled out my tube and popped it in. Hit the inflator...and it flatted. Crap. Completely checked over everything - turned the tire inside out - checked the rim for burrs or a spoke that cut the tube and nothing. Got another tube and finally got it to work after inflator issues. After 15 minutes of fighting with it and getting it to work - it worked. I was not looking forward to the 4 mile walk back to the last aid station. Finally I took back off and did what I could on the climbs. I wasn't very energetic but I got over them and looked forward to the finish. I was hoping for a sub 8 finish and knew that was long gone. So I actually stopped for a pee break and took extra time at the next aid station making sure I got rid of my bad tubes and picking up new ones and inflators. As the miles rolled on I picked up a little steam but not much else. Then I hit 100 miles and I still wasn't done...really? I know sometimes the Garmin is off but really? 101 miles...then 102...then 103...finally I see the road that is about a mile from the finish at 104 miles. I look at my clock and the 9:00 hour is rapidly approaching. I had to put down one last burst to make sure I didn't cross the 9 hour mark.
8:59:15 was my finishing time. A little disappointed, but proud that I persevered, I headed for the nice cold river to soak my legs. I was 43rd of 165 and in a pretty stacked field. There were some pretty big names in the top 20. It was just a good day on the bike if nothing else. The big thing I realized is that everyone goes through the blahs in these races. It's how long you're there and how it effects the race that really matters. I learned a lot and will have more of a great game plan in the works for the Mohican. My nutrition is what I question the most. I'm thinking I'm missing some key ideas in my daily and race nutrition that I need to get figured out. To have a consisted effort that I'm expecting now is going to take much more effort and experimenting than I originally thought on my minimalist attitude. Also in hindsight I would have MUCH rather have been racing the old course. I might have been able to keep it together since it was much less climbing and I knew it better. That's the way it goes with new or changed courses. It's part of the adventure. Just a great day riding the hills of Tennessee and Georgia.