Wilderness 101 2014
NUE number 3 for the year, and one of the most forward looked to events of the year. It’s the closest thing to a home town NUE as we get, and Chris Scott does an amazing job. It really is one of my favorite NUE races; taking into account course, atmosphere and how it’s run. The very best thing about W101 is that people hang out and cheer everyone in, all the way until the end. That’s just an amazing feeling being cheered on like you’ve won, when you’ve been on your bike all freaking day.
I came in a little tired, feeling like the seasons worth of training is catching up with me. Let’s face it- I’ve trained hard for eighth months straight. I’ve done more training this year than in the past five years combined. Charlie didn’t have much to work with last December, save will power. I had no real base to speak of, a just a whisper of fitness all going into TG… With his help I’ve made tremendous gains at every turn. We’d made the decision to race nationals, resulting in a medal, extended podium spot and a swollen hand suffered from a run-in with rock trying to avoid running someone over. I’d been icing my hand, every day, using a brace to limit use, and changted out my ESI Racers’ Edge to the new Extra Chunky’s to help open my grip up. Overall I was trying like hell to keep a positive mindset.
A snafu meant I solo’d the trip to Coburn, I missed the normal hi jinks which make up a large portion of the good times. Waze got me to Coburn late morning and I proceeded to set up camp, prep bike. I cleaned the drivetrain with some Pro Gold degreaser and used a healthy dose of Pro Gold extreme on the chain and the Luber Pen to get the pivot points of the derailleurs while waiting for the entire crew to arrive from NY NJ etc… (nary a peep from the chain all weekend, preride-race-recovery) Instead of three bridges, our pre-ride took us on the rail trail that we finish up on and headed to fisherman’s creek to answer the question – Is this thing at all rideable? I know it’s not after 93 miles… In the tunnel heading to the rail trail a scant 2 miles from camp, Super Roy gashed his front tire. Oof! But better then than during the race, I suppose. He headed back and we went to get the answer to the question – a resounding – it’s not worth it.
We get back to the camp site, Jeff Jody Roy and Wheezie head to State College to pickup some new rubber and dinner. I brought my food, and wanted to stay close to home and chill in the creek. Soon enough I’m chilling with Mitch Chris etc… in the river having a beer and putting my legs up. I was doing a good job staying ahead if my hydration drinking a ton of water and some Skratch mix.
The afternoon flew by, soon enough I was in my tights feet up and breaking my beloved chair in the middle of the circle. – boo! Then it got a bit chilly and I broke out my ‘mobile sleeping bag’ that thing is the sht! I got made fun of a bit, all out of love, but I didn’t care a bit. I was comfy and warm. The night was cool a sleep came easy.
Race day it was raining, though more sprinkling or drizzling pending your point of view. The awful realization that I’d forgotten my coffee at home was in full swing as the coffee wasn’t ready with the gong. Ugh! Live and learn. The rest of the morning went smoothly. I took 4 Aleve to stave off the incoming pain my hand would suffer from the rocky goodness in central PA. I rolled to the line in plenty of time, said GL to the boys and got in position. I was measured on the climb, pushing but not too hard. When the road flattened out I got into a convoy/pace line group of five that the eventual second place female was in. We motored along up the climb out of 1 and I continued to be measured, pushing but not too hard. I went through three bridges saw ‘Uncle Bob’ who got my pic crossing one of the bridges, made it through the Rock Garden, unclip no dab. About this time Erwin shows up, I gave him hell for not hanging with us the night before. Jody shows up looking strong as hell, climbing like a goat, and they leave me. The road pointed down for a spell and I took a lot of spots back, including passing both Jody and Erwin. I just love flying along like that, not pushing the pedals, but not touching the brakes and letting the bike fly along underneath me. I caught up to a Toasted Head racer wearing ‘Amy’ socks, it was eventual Women’s winner Melissa Nash Martz, she was racing along with a dude riding a handmade Still bicycle. I had no idea if they knew each other or were just sharing the road. I chatted for a spell with each of them, talking about handmade bicycles, V-Salon and mutual friends. I was just on the edge of my comfort zone, riding with them. Occasionally I’d pull her back to his wheel, but wasn’t able to do any work out front, I was ‘hanging out above my pay grade.’ We rolled into 2 and I had to get my food bottles sorted, decide to add some air to the rear (a touch too squirrely) Erwin and Jody show up and I’m off to tackle the hardest section of the race. It will take me as long to get from the start to 2 and it will to get from 2 to 3…lots of climbing. First Greenlee then Seeger (flashback to 2013 http://dirtwire.tv/2013/07/w101-shoogs-alan-seeger-is-amish-for-this-climb-never-f%EF%BF%BDing-ends/ )
Somewhere in here I start riding with Chris Schilling, we go back and forth and back and forth a bunch. ’ I rode with him for the better part of the day and we hit some of my favorite single-track together, he kept me calm as I was none too pleased to have dabbed on some Central PA rocky goodness. Alan Seeger climbs and climbs and climbs until you hit the new super sketchy downhill. Chris and I cruised down this section, it was fun hearing him chat it up behind me’ hanging his ass over the rear tire, saddle on his stomach hooting and hollering. There’s a bunch of down between 3 and 4, which I take every advantage off, I kept waiting on Chris to catch up again. I pulled into 4 with a 9:15 doable if I continued pushing. I sorted out bottles, grabbed a coke, and was ready to roll. I remembered bouncing a bit too much still and aired up again. Unfortunately that caused my rear to rub on the derailleur, went back to the Freeze Thaw peeps, got worked on and passed by Erwin Chris Peri and saw Jeff Carlson while Jeff Carlson rolled up, they proceeded to take a selfie. That didn’t take a long time, but losing any time was going to hurt my chances. Up Stillhouse I see Erwin up ahead, pass Peri back and Chris is in there somewhere and Jeff is coming… Mid climb I start slowing down, foreshadowing a very dark place to come. The Aleve has started wearing off, and my hand in nagging me. I’m riding with Jeff we’re cruising along, talk about working together, hit a chunky little section and I’m popped off. The chunky grinding takes my legs to new lows for the day, twinging and flaring with cramps. I’m overheating and resigned to the fact I won’t be in the low 9s. I’m limping home and getting passed, on downhills I normally scream down, not something I’m used to.
I pulled into 5, have The Bicycle Shop tighten up my bottle cage while I grab a water bottle and spray myself down. The last time I stopped here was when I broke my pedal some years back. Anne Pike, cruises up, 3rd place female, I say hello and take off. I’m cooled off and know I’m almost home. I’m riding with two guys, and make sure I’m in front when we get to fisherman, power walk through, and hit the rail trail determined not to be caught. I motor through the tunnel, see the town, round the bend, kiss the ring and powerslide at the finish. Bob’s there to capture it – http://www.bobs-photogallery.com/MountainBikeRaces/2014-Mountain-Bike-Races/2014-Wilderness-101/i-4chmD6d/A 9:43
“Race hard, finish strong” Lynn and the girls say that to me every time I race, and love working hard emptying the tank at the end. The dark place between 4 and 5 is new to me. Historically, I have my lows in the middle portion of the race. I’m still trying to figure out why/how –I don’t think my effort was that much different than Mohican, where I was able to continue pushing until the end. I came in a bit fatigued, could that have played into it? In my haste to leave 4 I neglected to water down my sun sleeves, head and nect, I know I was overheating, and my water bottle was dry before I got to 5. How much did my hand play in that? The aleve wore off; it could’ve affected my whole mental status. I know that getting passed on the downhill deflated me. Who knows… there are too many factors contributing to be able to pinpoint the exact cause. In the end, I’m pleased with my finish time of 9:43. 1hr20min faster than last year on the new course, PR’d my all time by 20 minutes.
As a result my schedule changed. My original plan was to do Hampshire 100 geared so I could do Shen SS. Sadly, I will no longer be doing the Hampshire 100. Bitter sweet, I’m going to miss seeing some friends from that region, but my legs need the break before SM100…it’s that BIG.
FTR I’m done with that place we have eaten breakfast at the last several years…it made for an interesting ride home. I may have been gambling, but I never lost…
As always huge thanks to my wife and kids supporting me and cheering me on. PGLC