-97 miles, 9,100’ of climbing with a total time of 9:05. This course was a whole lot faster than I expected. Last year’s race was 107 miles and 10,600’ of climbing in 11:05.
-34th in the open men’s division, 49th overall out of 300+ starters
-Pro Kona Mountain Biker, Barry Wicks won in a crazy fast time of 7:23, ~1:15 hr faster than last year’s winner Carey Smith. The field was deeper and overall had 90+ more racers than last year.
-Close to 80 miles of technical single track over the 97 mile race!
This year’s course consisted of 1 big loop with only the first and last 6 miles of the race overlapping. The race started at 5:30 am, near the town of Bend, at Mt. Bachelor Village. The temperature was much warmer than last year’s 34 degree start. The race started with an extended ‘neutral’ start up the highway towards Mt. Bachelor, which we would eventually circumnavigate. Throughout the race, whenever I got a view of Mt. Bachelor, I could not believe we still had to ride around the mountain. After 5 miles of pavement, the race was officially ON as we turned onto a dirt road. This is where the first day’s crashes began, with a few racers crashing on the transition of the first uphill climb. This resulted in a lot of racers, including me, dismounting and running up the hill to get around the congestion of bikes and bodies. After this initial congestion, the race thinned out pretty quickly and the steady climb to Wanoga via Funner began. The climb was not difficult, but several ‘Y’s’ in the trail left each rider guessing what was behind trail #1 and #2. Sometimes it really didn’t matter, which trail Y you took, but often times if you chose the wrong one, you were exposed to some unnecessary large rock lifts and drops. The 1st 18 miles of the race came pretty fast. My overall race plan was to go out more conservatively than I did last year. I was constantly holding myself back and trying to ride an even pace for the entire race. Oddly enough, I still felt both of my quads wanting to cramp within the first 18 miles of the race, even though I felt like I was going at a comfortable pace. Each 100 miler I have done, I have had early cramping issues, probably due to the lack of a real long pre-race long warm up. This is something I still need to improve upon in the future.
Leaving Swampy Lakes, I was immediately dropped by the single speeder (athlete 360) I came into the aid station with up the initial dirt road climb before entering more single track. I again, restrained myself, and focused on fueling on the dirt road sections and didn’t make chase. I assumed I could catch him on the single track of Sector 16 as I did in the previous single track section. After a few miles, I was getting close, getting quick glimpses through the trees and seeing his faint dust trail. Finally, my bladder overcame the battle, and I pulled over to relieve myself. In mid-stream, a train of 3 mountain bikers came by, which I would end up latching onto through the remainder of Sector 16 to mile 42. At mile 42, the climb up to Dutchman’s aid station at mile 56 began. The overall climb itself wasn’t bad and went pretty quickly. I started the early sections of the climb with Steve who had caught up right at mile 42 before he ‘fell asleep’ on the bike (Ask Steve). Coming into Dutchman’s aid at mile 52 was the first indication that the course might be short a few miles.
At Dutchman’s aid station, I got new bottles, food and lubed the chain for the next section of trail. I was informed that Mark was only 2 to 3 minutes ahead of me, which surprised me. I now had my carrot and thought I would be able to catch Mark in the ensuing 10 miles of technical, mostly downhill singletrack. The trail started with a few snow drifts that you had to ride through. This section of the course had also been used in previous years (not last years) and I was aware of the large amount of lava rock throughout this section. I tried to ride fast, but clean at the same time. I caught a few people, but I also was passed by probably the same number of people. I never did catch Mark and he actually ended up putting 8 to 10 minutes on me in the last 45 miles of the race! The last 1 or 2 miles to Lava Lake was really pretty, but was actually my least favorite portion of trail the entire day. The trail was relatively flat, with a few short ups and downs, but littered with lava rock. The lack of flow of the trail (or my riding) made for a low speed bumpy ride.
At Lava Lake, there was a bottle hand up station and then you began to payback the elevation gods for all of the descending of the last section. The crux of the final miles back to Edison aid station at mile 77, consisted of a 3.9 mile climb with 1,200’ of climbing. I never paid much attention to this segment on the map since it did not seem like a huge amount of climbing. Little did I know, the climb basically consisted of a stair-step elevation profile. Continuous short punchy climbs littered with lava rock and tree roots connected by short sections of moderately inclined trail. A lot of the early climbs, I chose to dismount and walk, since I had been trying to avoid the cramping of the quads since early in the race. Walking did not seem to result in losing too much time on these climbs. Only until halfway through the climbing segment, I noticed I was in my big ring, which would explain why the climbing felt even more labored than usual. After shifting to the smaller chain ring the steep climbs became much more doable and I was on my way to the final aid station of the day. Right before getting to Edison aid station, my body began to tingle and I felt like I was going to pass out. This happened to before a few weeks prior after a long days ride at Bogus in the heat. I think it was basically the early signs of bonking.
At the final aid station, most of what remained was 15 miles of single track and 5 miles of descending pavement. Mark pre-rode this section the day before and said it would probably take 90 minutes to finish. The section consisted of a few short climbs to Kiowa Butte before descending on Tiddlywinks and Storm King. My tingling body / passing out, feeling returned briefly on Storm King and only got better by consuming a small potato and some GU. During this brief low point, I mistook a butterfly for a rider and almost began following it off-trail into the forest. Finally, I arrived on the final road section and was able to catch a single speeder on the descent that had passed me an hour earlier on the final ascent. Finished up the race with the arms up and greeted Beth and friends.
Overall, the race was good; no crashes, no mechanicals! Personally, it was a big success for me to be able to do this race this year with the back issues I have had all year. The course was really fun and I think it will attract even more people to this race since it is so fast. Hopefully, the race course will stay the same with the addition of 3 miles of climbing to make it an honest 100 miler! I felt my race execution was the best of any of the endurance races I have completed in the past. I fueled well, with the exception of the section between Dutchman and Lava Lake. I could have really used a camel back here since the trail was so fast and technical. After watching video highlights of the race, many riders seemed to swap in and out of using a camel back during the different race segments. Also, I had less than 10 minutes of down time throughout the entire race compared to 20 minutes in last year’s race.
Even with successfully finishing the race, I do feel a little unsatisfied with my overall performance, which sounds somewhat silly. Throughout the day, both my climbing and technical skills were only average compared to how I had been riding in my training this year. I didn’t train as hard for this event, as I did last year, but going into it, I felt like I was better prepared and in better shape. I think my race strategy was maybe a little too conservative for the unexpected fast course, but at the same time, I don’t think I could have gone much faster on this given day. Out of the three 100 milers that I have done, this was definitely the easiest day in the saddle. I guess last year’s race had set the bar pretty high in terms of suffering. It is a fine balance of not going out to hard versus not going out hard enough. All day, I felt like I had only ‘1-speed’, which may be attributed to being conservative the first 42 miles or so of the day. Huge kudos to fellow teammates Zuber, Mark and Steve for having great races! Also, huge congrats to all the other Boise racers who raced! In the overall scheme of things, we are all very fortunate to be healthy enough to ride our bikes, and I try to remind myself of this when I am even a little bummed about a race.
Until next time,