Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Shenandoah Mountain 100 Recap
The SM100 was a great time and such a cool venue as usual. This was my 4th time doing the race and it's just such an enjoyable time that it keeps me coming back for more. As of late though I wish it were earlier in the season so I could really hit it hard as I feel burnt by the time this race comes around. Either way it was good for another attempt.
On my preride my legs felt flat so I knew it might be a bad day on race day. Well the horn goes off the next morning and I roll with the lead group until the first few hills and let them go. I'm not sure if it was the lack of warmup or the flat legs but I just didn't think it would pay to dig that hard at that moment so I letup and just rode a steady pace. That was probably a good strategy as it would keep me fresher for the miles to come.
Up the first climb and into the first singletrack in the top 30 or so all was going well until I hear the hissing of my back tire that just got sliced open on a greasy rock. Great. I spun it to get the stans to seal but no luck. I ripped it apart, put some duct tape on the hole from the inside and threw a tube in all while watching probably 100+ racers pass me by. That was the depressing part.
So after the tire was all aired up I jumped in the line of riders and took off...well not really. It was the conga line from hell. Everyone being slow and cautious and not knowing how to ride up a hill. Every time the terrain pitched up everyone got off and walked. Really??? So I got pissy and called out and rode up through what I could to try and gain some positions. It was a lot of hurry up and wait. There were just no good spots to pass that many people so I had to pick them off one at a time. Even on the downhills everyone was sitting in line and grabbing their brakes. Again...really?
Out to the next fire road - I jumped on the gas and rode pretty angrily. Knowing the leaders were MILES ahead was not a kind thought. All I wanted to do was catch and pass anyone in sight. I did pretty well and passed probably 50+ on this road section and headed into the next climb. Again only to sit in line and wait to pass or walk as I couldn't get through. Totally frustrating. On the next fireroad I got a bunch more and then just settled in as the crowds were dwindling down. I was getting closer to where I belonged but still at a huge disadvantage. I had to save some juice for what lie ahead since I was putting down a big effort to make up lost ground.
The next few hills went well but I just knew I was far behind the race. The hill after aid 3 usually kills me and I rode it pretty well. Still in traffic I kept on and rode the best I could. Then into the soul crusher I had all kinds of thoughts back to last year when I could barely pedal in granny gear. It was not going to happen this year. I put down a good pace and tried to make up some more spots on this climb which I did and topped it pretty well looking forward to the finish.
Then with a little bit of motivation, the weather sucked the life out of it. It had been raining a good part of the morning and now getting to the 16 meadows(or whatever it is) the trail just turned awful. It was just mudpuddles and sloppy trails as far as the eye could see. I was really trying to make up time and this was not going to help. It was miserable. At this point I gave up hope a little as it was just so hard with everything happening at once. Crappy legs - flat tire setback - and now the rain to make everything even worse. It was not going to be a PR or a great day overall but at least I'd get to the finish.
So after rolling through the slop for a long time I finally hit the last few uneventful sections and made my way back to the campground. As I was on one of the last hills I heard my garmin beep as the 9 hour mark hit. Then I just totally soft pedaled in frustration. I had the worst ride of my life last year and rode a 9:23 and now this year with some bad weather and some setbacks I'd be very close to that. It just wasn't worth pushing any harder. I was burntout. The motivation was gone and I was happy to have my mountain bike season over. At that point I just wanted to hang up the fat tires for good for 2012.
I rolled across the line at 9:13 yipee in 40th place. Disgusted and tired I was elated for it to be over. 40th really wasn't bad considering where I'd spent most of the day but I just knew that I had so much more in me and if luck went the right way the day would have been much better. That's why there's always next year I guess...