Monday, September 04, 2006


Photo by Joe Foley
So there I am on the starting line at 6:29am, a minute before the start, when I realize I left my water bottles and tools back at the campsite. I sprint back to the camp and look around desperately trying to remember where I put them. Meanwhile I hear the pace motorcycle rev up and lead the group out. The race has started without me and I still can't find my stuff. I wake up in shock. It was just a dream. Then I look at my watch and realize that it's 7am. Dammit! I overslept and missed the start afterall. Again, I wake up in shock. It was a dream inside a dream. In the real world, it's 5:00am and still dark outside. I get up slowly and put myself together for another SM100...

Second verse, not the same as the first: I went into this year's race with a different outlook than last year. Knowing that I could, in principle, finish the race, was already a small victory. Without the mental burden of finishing, my mind was free to think about other things like actually racing. Well, that and, "are my legs really as skinny as they look in pictures?"

It is a race afterall. And what a race it was shaping up to be. Bike Lane's Camp, BruceyB, and I were set up for the podium sweep, but so was the CityBikes team which came out in a big way with 11 riders. PedalShop was true to form sending about an equal number of riders and kegs. JonnyW, Wiggy, ChrisC and fixed gear philistine DomC were there too. I spent most of last year's race going back and forth with these guys. This year also witnessed the return of Rickyd and Stoner, with whom I shared a campsite. Gina, Jo, and Maili were already making bets on who would reach checkpoint 2 first. The pressure was on. It was looking to be a good ride.

The Ernesto 100: Tropical storm/depression Ernesto had me worried. But we were lucky and got only about 3 inches of rain two days before the race. The thin layer of mud covering the fireroad up Hankey Mountain sucked, but it wasn't disastrous. You just had to deal with it. Otherwise, the trail conditions were great.

Can we talk?: A wise man once said, "[Singlespeeds] are good for more socializing. You're forced to travel up & back through the ranks on a single. It's fun to pass people 7 different times." So true. Chatting with other riders definitely helps the miles go by, although some people weren't very chatty climbing up to checkpoint 5. DomC's fixed gear skillz were amazing this year. I expected us to be even on the climbs, but he was never far behind me, even on the descents where I thought I could put a gap on him. Awesome. I also got to ride for a while with Camp this year-- something I didn't expect. We took turns pulling on one of the road sections, but whenever it was me in front I just felt like I was slowing him down. Still, the paceline worked and it got us a small gap on AlbertG, who would later close that gap and blow us away on the climbs.

All out war:
The yellow jackets were out in full force this year. Lot's of people getting stung. A few folks needed medical attention. I got stung once in the leg on the hike-a-bike section between checkpoints 2 and 3. No allergic reaction though. Thanks to my allergy treatments, getting stung didn't mean a DNF and a trip to the hospital.

Here, eat this: Some folks get really specific about nutrition during the race. I can't get too scientific on the bike so I just go by feel. I eat at every opportunity, drink when I start to feel thirsty, hit the hammer gel every once in a while, and swallow an endurolyte when the legs feel like cramping. I had a PB&J sandwich, a banana, coke, pringles, and a granola bar at every check point after CP1. I ate everything at the checkpoint except the banana which I ate on the road. Between checkpoints I finished off one large water bottle of HEED (tastes like baby aspirin), 3-4 endurolytes, and 2-3 hits of hammer gel (chocolate mixed with apple flavor). It worked well for me. My legs were still cramping, but not nearly as bad as last year when I had to stop a few times to punch at my legs.

The new ride: The new DeSalvo worked out just fine, like it had all season. It carved through the fast, twisty bliss of Dowell's Draft and Ramsey's Draft like it was on rails. Because the bike was 6 pounds lighter than the one I rode last year, I had to change my riding style a bit-- mainly staying more relaxed on the rocks. The Ti fork and Jones bars (and good body positioning) did a lot to smooth out the ride. My hands didn't once feel numb after almost 11 hours of riding. Climbed well too. The only things that worried me were a slightly bent seatpost (a casualty of Elizabeth Furnance), and those pesky eggbeater pedals that, from my experience, could have failed at any time. They didn't. I finished the race with no mechanical problems, no flats, and no knee or back pain.

Get to the point: So I had a great race, even with the yellowjackets and a few crashes. I came in 115 out of about 400 starters with a time of 10:46:35. Trek/VW rider Jeremiah Bishop won the race AND broke the course record with a time of 7:15:50 (more than 3.5 hours ahead of me). Sue Haywood took the Women's race with a time of 9:01:40 and placed 27 overall. The rest of the results are listed here. But the fastest man on the course this year was not Jeremiah Bishop. It was Joe Foley who was all over the place taking pictures. It seemed as if every time I'd come out from a piece of singletrack or pull into an aid station, he was there waiting with camera in hand. Check out Joe's awesome slide show. Thanks to Chris Scott and the Shenandoah Mountain Touring folks for putting on another great event.


Blogger BradH said...

Joe, I think your site here needs something to spice it up... like a repeating song playing. I suggest "Gloria" by Laura Branigan.

1:59 AM


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