101 Ways To Get Your Ass Spanked (and love it)
Loaded up the Element on Friday and headed out to Coburn, PA for my first attempt at the Wilderness 101 Mountain Bike Race. 101 miles of steep forrest road and double track climbs and rocky single track decents. My pre race goal was under 9 hours based on the 2004 times of some of the competitors I have raced with and felt that I was on par with.
Except for missing a turn and backtracking through downtown State College the trip was uneventful. I pulled in around 5 p.m. and picked up my registration packet. When I got back to the Element my camp neighbor was just setting up and it was Billy Hughes, the solo racer that I rode several laps at Big Bear with, and who I thought maybe had got abducted by aliens ‘cause after are fourth lap or so I passed him and never saw him again. He’s a friendly guy and it was nice to have someone to hang out with.
I got the Element set up to sleep in by putting the passenger side front and rear seats flat and and spread the sleeping bag on top. Nice little arrangement. Imagine yourself camping inside a mail truck and that’s what it was like.
Now it was time to get my bike prepped, number plate on, and gear laid out for Saturday. With a 7 a.m. start and getting up a 5:30 to eat and "pinch a loaf" there would’nt be much time. Then I ate a nice dinner of whole wheat pasta salad with spinach and garlic as well as a turkey bagel sandwich. Mmmmmm.
Crawled in the E. around 9 for bed and slept pretty good in the “pie wagon”. Way better than I've ever slept in a tent. Seats are bit lumpy but good.
Awoke at a 5:30 a.m. to the sounds of small gong being hit and the race organizer giving a short but effective wake up yell.
Ate a tasty PB&J Bagel and a downed a Starbuck's Double Espresso drink and then paid a visit to Mr. P. Potty. I strapped on the Bikeman.com kit, readied my hammer gels and bottles, and tried to relax for a few moments before a long day in the saddle.
Seems like every time I race the big gun endurance freaks turn out. This event was no different and had the likes of Chris Eatough, Cameron Chambers (racing single speed), Ernesto Merechin, Mark Hendershot and what seemed like the whole fast-as-hell Independent Fabrications team. So at 7:00 a huge pack of around 200 freaks rolled out of Coburn Park and headed towards the mountains. After a brief roll on pavement the pack took a left on a forest road and the first of countless long climbs of the day. The pack immediately started breaking apart. I just went my own pace and would hook up a group here or there until I needed a pass or got dropped. The first 20 miles or so was all gravel forest roads. The decents were sketchy due to a lot of fresh gravel and you had to be extra cautious not to get caught in the deep gravel.
Aid stations were spread out about every 25 miles. They were just awesome. Soon as you pulled up they would offer bottles, Hammer Gels, PBJ, Fig Newtons and more. If you need your pack filled up they would do it for you. Mucho thanks those volunteers.
I bypassed the 1st station and not long after we got a taste of some single track which was welcomed after all that forest road climbing. There were some seriously fast snowmobile trail decents that had me going 25 – 30 mph down hill, over rocks on a hardtail. Ouch! Thank God I didn’t chance the brake pads on the El Santo though, there was some seriously fast downhills that needed all the brake power I could get.
The first 60 miles or so went pretty well. Pain was at a minimum except for some knee pain that I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with for a month or so. Nothing a little Advil couldn’t help. I also experience some cramping in my thigh, which is unusual for me, but I kept it going just fine.
The climbs were like NOTHING I’ve ever done before! Several miles up, then up some more… oh wait just a little more UP!! A lot of time was spent climbing on my own too, with nothing but lines from the movie Anchorman going through my head. “It’s HOT, milk was a bad choice”
I was feeling good, I just couldn’t seem to make time. I started to see my goal of finishing in under 9 hours go away and now hoped for under 10. That was a mental blow.
Around mile 80 or so I missed right turn sign and did 1 extra mile (not happy) then around mile 90 is when mentally it got even harder. Every rock seemed to draw me to it and want to take blood, every climb started to have just one more switch back and then to top it all … I was riding with Bob Anderson, who I raced with at Lodi Farms this year, when he moved up a about 20 bike length, and hooked up with a single speeder. They both stoped, looked a me, pointed down and motioned me left. Why? I thought… SNAKE!!!!!!! Not just SNAKE!!!! RATTLE –F-ING SNAKE!!!!! In full on pissed off mode, rattle going, hissing etc. I nearly fainted. We all made it around the F-er and continued on.
In the last 4 miles we encountered one more section of single track, a hike-a-bike, two dark-as-night-can’t-see-anything tunnels and of course ONE MORE CLIMB! The short section of road back in to Coburn was the best though. I could smell the burgers and almost taste the beer. I crossed the finish line, made like T. Rex and banged the gong (you finish. you bang a gong), grabbed my free commerative pint glass and sat my ass down. I finished in just under 10 hours and in around 50th or 55th place (wasn’t paying attention when they told me, just glad to be done, and now I have to wait for the results). Overall not real happy with my finish, but considering it was my first 101, and there were still roughly 150 people behind me, that’s not too shabby. Hope to improve my time next year.
Oveall I can’t say enough about about how well the race was run. A $135 entry fee got you free camping a Coolmax T-Shirt, water, Gatorade and Hammer Gels from a friendly group of volunteers, commerative “finishers” pint glass, free post race beer from Otto’s Pub in State College and burgers, dogs, and more. Top 5 in Mens, Womens, and Single Speed all walked away with cash and they gave swag prizes like 60 deep. I even walked away with a Dirt Rag T-Shirt. Plus I got to chance to compete against some of the best racers in the country/world on some great trails. I’ll be back in 2006 for sure. Check out the web site for Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah 100 info.
When I went to bed Sat. night around 11, there were 6 racers STILL out on the course! And just for the record. Chris Eatough won with a time of just under 7 hours. Freak.