Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wild 100

There's no starting line, heck there's not even a starting bell. They simply hand you a map and you go. 5 checkpoints, hit them in order, the route is up to you. If you do it right, it's about 100km give or take 40. There are no markings on the course because there is no course. Except for some "illegal" pavement sections and private property, bushwhacking is allowed. If you think you have the navigating skills and guts to wander off into the woods, well, you did sign the insurance waivers didn't you? The Wild 100-- a true backcountry race.

Given our combined lack of navigating skills, I'd been trying for a couple of years to get Rickyd to do this race with me. But after I got turned down twice, I decided to find another equally navigationally challenged race partner: Gina. My three goals: 1) get off the course before dark, 2) have lots of fun romping around in the woods, 3) remain married to Gina at the end of it all. Glad to say I accomplished all three.

Gina and I stayed at one of the Elk River Touring Center extension cabins. I recommend this to anyone doing this event since the overnight temps can get quite cold even in August and nothing beats a good night's sleep before the race.
Pre-race jitters? nah...

Another reason to get a cabin: access to the (very clean) restrooms in the main lodge instead of lining up for the porta-johns before the start.

Race day started with my usual pre-race trash talking and flexing of the muscles:
flexing the "muscles"

Intimidation personified. I was not alone in this respect:
bunky and mike (first-timers/winners)

That's Bunky and Mike. They would go on to win the first-timers class. And of course Bike Lane teamie, Camp-- business as usual, looking cool as a cucumber:
LC is all business

The race started with a long fireroad climb that taxed the early hard chargers. I stayed off the gas for the most part and stayed back to watch Gina mix it up with some folks that we would wind up spending most of the day with.
Gina mixing it up with the boys

After the fireroad came the Jeep trail of mud:
Muddy Jeep trail

Then a little bit o fence hopping
Gina negotiating an "obstacle"

and bushwacking
hiking up to Gay Sharps Knob

...and we found ourselves at the first checkpoint some 15 miles later.

real backwoods racing

Gauley Mountain mud

From the picture, you'd think we were in a tropical rain forest. The vegetation is all over the place, from tropical looking banana tree-like plants, to dessert cacti, to loomy ferns:
primeval forest

We hit checkpoint 3 not long after this pic was taken. And that would be the end of the race for us. There was no way to make the next checkpoint before the time cutoff, so we called it quits. Ten hours and 53 miles later, we arrived back at the lodge.
still smiling after 53 miles (and 10 hours!)

This was Gina's longest mountain bike ride by far, more than double anything she'd done in the past. Glad to see she was still smiling at the end of it. I hope I can get her to do it again next year, but I think I'll wait a few more months before asking her.

It would be great to see more coed teams doing this race. Consider this the callout for next year! What say you, homies?!? Ya got 8 months to train, and I know a good divorce lawyer.
day's end

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bear country

A while ago, Gina and I hit the GWNF to cram some base miles in before the Wild 100. Basically the same route that ChrisH and I did, but this time we climbed the road to Woodstock Tower instead of doing that infernal scrag hike. The Massanutten trail from Woodstock to Edinburg is a hidden gem. Just flat out great technical ridge riding typical of the GWNF. The trail doesn't see much bike traffic though. It's a little further from DC than its more well-known siblings, Elizabeth Furnace and Buzzard Rocks. And it's also a highway for bears. So bring your bear bells and use them correctly, i.e., make sure the person *in front* has one. Otherwise, the lead rider (me in this case), rides right by the bear, and the person with the bell (Gina) scares the bear and sends it running up the trail-- toward the rider in front (me). Luckily, it was only a cub and the trail was wide enough to let it get past me.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Adobo ride

A dozen Pinoys and Pinays lightly browned, and a dash of vanilla. Shake vigorously and serve on the rocks. Ah, smells like the first ever Adobo ride at Gambrill, a.k.a., the largest ever gathering of Pilipino mountain bikers on the North American East Coast Universe.
A good blend of Gambrill first-timers and veterans, two groups of riders toured the Yellow Loop and rendezvoused for a post-ride pot luck. A few new faces and some I hadn't seen for a while. Props to: Jojo rockin the singlespeed for the first time at Gambrill; Gina, not so fresh after yesterday's GW ride, still rockin on the new Kish; Garret emerging from out of nowhere and rockin the rigid cantilevered-brake bike; Darwin sneaking out of church to ride with us and rushing back for the final blessings; and thanks to the group of first-timers I led for not killing me when I got us lost.

yellow a hardcore garret

It wouldn't be the Adobo ride without...
adobo ride picnic