-got in some good training following pro Chris Eatough's training plan
-had 4 or 5 good mountain rides before the race
-weather was near perfect starting in the low 50s and not getting out of the 70s during the race
-finished in just over 11 hours, even after drinking 4 Dogfish 90 minute IPAs the night before
-blew off nearly all my long training rides
-most short rides were commutes, most trail rides were wakefield (easy urban singletrack)
-it was hot and humid at the race
-had 4 random beers the night before
night before the race, camped with chris, jim and whit...all first timers. after a short 2 hour ride, and after looking at the weather forecast i was dreading the race. went ahead and enjoyed some of the great brews provided by the race sponsors, sat around and bullshat until about 10pm. got a little sleep, since some jackasses nearby decided to talk all night.
got through the pre-race routine. brought my own breakfast and toilet paper (lesson learned from last year), lined up feeling good.
good pace up the first climb. first singletrack section was a logjam as usual. it's not that hard to ride, but is almost unrideable with that many people trying to make it through. back out on the road, got in a good paceline up until the lynn trail section. was unable to ride last year due to the fact that it's 1) steep, rooty and a downright difficult climb and 2) there were so many people walking. maybe i could ride it if there was noone in front of me, but that wasn't the case. pushed up most the way. descent down the wolf trail was kickass, good flow, awesome. something clicked this year and i wasn't getting passed on the descents. in fact, passed a lot of people going downhill. saw a dude break a collarbone, also as i told a guy i was going by on his left, i heard a whimpering "okay, go." hammered down the lower section, nice twisty smooth singletrack. got with another group for the long road ride to aid station #2...refilled the camelback (first sign that it was a hot one) and got back moving--a short NASCAR style pit. ran into adventure race buddy Hayne on the road, chatted a bit, made the turn to start the Hanky climb and slipped on a patch of mud next to the gate. fell, and immediately cramped getting back up. at mile 33 of a 100miler this wasn't good, especially since i had a 7 mile steeper than shit climb to make it up. shook off the cramp and started the slog to the top. eventually rejoined Hayne, passed him since he was on a singlespeed and was quickly out of gearing. sweat a gallon by the time i made it to the top. began the descent...tricky at the top, lots of people walking. with my newfound descending confidence, decided to ride. ended up catching another dude trying to descend, blindly followed his wheel as we jumped down 2-3 foot rock ledges. heard some folks cheering "yeah, you made it" and noticed there was a medic station at the bottom of the ledge section. the payoff for making it through that section is about 4-5 miles of some of the best downhill riding in VA. flew down to AS3, reloaded the Camelback yet again, and began the Braley loop...this loop was my nemesis last year, as i walked a lot of the climb. uphill rock gardens suck. prerode it a couple weeks prior and was able to ride it, but i did it with fresh legs. no such luck on race day. still managing cramps, tried to bridge up to a teammate i saw on the road section so that i'd have someone to ride with on the loop...no luck. hit the singletrack and noticed it was super muggy in that area, trails were wet, rooty, much messier than 2 weeks prior. someone ahead of me slipped and got off her bike, but i was unable to react and ended up hitting her rear wheel, had to put a foot down...caused a cramp. that began a period of hike-a-bike/ride that i continued until the top of the climb. it was hot, muggy and there were lots of folks sitting and resting next to the trail. seemed like it took forever to get to the top. started my descent and slipped in the first rock garden. got back up and continued downhill. heard some rattling and the bike felt unstable. looked down at my rear shock and noticed an unusual amount of bouncing. thought for sure i had a broken shock. was somewhat relieved...thought that the mechanical incident would be a good excuse to DNF. got to the bottom of the hill, asked for a mechanic. told him for sure my shock was broken. he got on, jumped around. said it was fine. i asked him to check again. it was a crazy rattle. discovered it was a CO2 cartridge rattling around in my now broken seat bag. felt like a dumbass, but told him it felt unstable. come to find out, my front wheel skewer had become loose. that could've been ugly. was relieved for it to be fixed, not relieved to ride on. took off out of AS4 and a dude rolls up to me, asks how he should bail out of the race. i give him directions back to the Stokesville campground. we talk for a bit. the heat was getting him, as it was me. thought about joining him. we pacelined for a bit, i see the turnoff...just 4 miles back to base camp, or 35 more miles of mainly climbing. fought the urge to quit, continued to roll up the hill slowly. hit the switchback to start the deathclimb and saw a 10 year old kid. a few minutes later, he rolls up next to me and says this is a tough climb. i try to hang, he drops me as it gets steeper. eventually make it to the aid station. talk to some teammates who look like they're also in bad shape. ate some pizza, pushed on. climbed through the 17 meadow mind-fuck. elated to be at the top, the highest point of the race. took a celebratory piss and ate a cliff bar. begin the descent, which sucks, as there are a lot of steep climbs that were unrideable for me at this point. finally get to the nice flowy descent, start to bomb it. heard a loud gunshot, feel something graze my ear. thought for sure i was being shot at. immediate instinct to pedal harder. looked down...oh shit, flat...it was my tube exploded. tire looked shredded. pissed, thought this was going to be the DNF. luckily the tire remained intact. pissed to have to fix a flat. couldn't get much pressure in the tire, nursed it down to the aid station. loaded up on air to begin the last 12 miles. incorrectly remembered it to be a short climb and a fun descent...climb seemed to take forever. eventually crossed the line in just over 12 hours.
the look on this picture tells you what kind of day i had.
so, jury's still out on next year.