The Wayne Ultra: WVMBA Ultra #2 Race Report
Sunday was race #2 in the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association's Ultra Series. You may remember the first was the Massanuten XXC race down in Virginia a few weeks ago. I didn't make it to that one, but the 45 mile Wayne Ultra SEEMED like a good way to jump right back into racing after last week's Lumberjack 100. I usually don't do races even two weeks from each other, let alone ONE week, but hey, I was gonna ride anyway, why not support a local Ultra series and help make sure that these races stick around.
Mid week I made the decision that I would head to Ohio on Sunday. Ohio? Yeah, I know, it's the WVMBA Ultra series and the first two races weren't even in West Virginia. The irony isn't lost on me, but believe me The Wayne (and from what I've read the Hoo-Ha!) is hard enough to garner entry into the WVMBA, a series that has the reputation of having some of the most challenging and well organized events on the east coast.
I would be heading over to Ohio with my teamates Don Powers and Tim "Little Ball of Hate" Carson. As well as "Stick"- A local messenger and friend of ours that would be racing the XXC on his full ridged fixie. (and finish 5th in his class!). If nothing else, the 2+ hour drive would be fun.
After all the normal register/number plate/dump out/lather up/chamois up/spin the legs stuff it was go time. The race started with a verrrrry slow controlled start for a couple miles on the road. Finally the motorcycle honked and peeled off, and it was game on! The fast guys took off and me and the rest of the pack upped the pace and spread out over the first big gravel/pavement climb to the single track.
The first section of single track started off well enough, and then the trail went DOWN hill fast (literally) with a tight switchback seemingly every 20 yards. EEESH! Add one marginally skilled mountain biker (me) on a big (although be it great) 29er and it was NOT a pretty site. It was about as smooth as dry humping a sandstone boulder (not that I've ever done that, but I'm sure SOMEBODY has, I almost guarantee you there's some "rocks on rocks" fetish forum out there). Anyway, I felt all over the place on the trail. At first I thought maybe I had too much PSI in my tires, but for someone my weight I think just under 30 is ok, then I thought that maybe I accidentally f*cked with the Fox's rebound. Nope. Here is turns out I was just having a suck day in the single track. Like the saying goes... "Excrement happens".
A mile or two later I saw Don on the side of the trail with a broken chain. I couldn't help him so I just motored on. He was lucky to have a dude hook him up with a power link and the next thing you knew he was back on the trail and passing me just a few miles later on his new red Mamasita. I also saw another teammate John M. and his new red Mamasita on the side of the trail with his chain all jammed up in his crank. Not sure what happen there, but I think it may have been a 1x9 drive train issue.
The trail ahead continued with the normal type of river valley type riding. Roll along a moist/muddy creek bed, climb up on some off camber, switch back filled single track and then bomb down some steep single track. There were some folks just railing this course. While I wasn't one of them, it was fun to watch. The Wayne course was fun, but about 100% different from last week's Lumberjack 100 course. This course made you work hard and indeed was ULTRA. There were a few stretches of road and gravel that I welcomed, so as to stretch out a bit, relax and try to make up for the single track skills that I guess I forgot to bring with me.
At about mile 30 I was starting to slow big time, but just kept plugging along. Before you knew it were doubling back on some of the course. Then it got just f*cking silly, and they had us going up the STEEP down hill from earlier in the course. It was hike a bike all the way. For EVERYONE! It was the steepest hike a bike I've ever done. There is a steep one in the Mohican 100, but this one was WAY steeper. Traction was hard to get, the dirt was damp, and I found myself along with some others walking about 20 steps. Stopping, taking some deep breaths, sobbing all over my handle bars and then continuing. On top of that it was getting HUUUUUMID and I was just pouring sweat. I mean was SOAKED.
Once to the top of the hike a bike it was few more sections of trail, and a road section from earlier in the race. I hoped.... scratch that, I prayed that the road would lead us to the finish. But I knew those prayers would not be answered due to the fact the race director told us that the race ended at the bottom of ANOTHER set of steep switchbacks. Oh well, keep on keeping on....
Finally, the switch backs! And I was spent. I had nothing to negotiate these switchbacks and on a couple I had to come to complete stand still to get around them, or risk sliding down the hill in a ball of my own spent suck.
One last little down hill and I hit the finish line, which was oddly located along a highway and about a mile from the start line. Glad to have that one done. Not sure if I would have really done any better had I had had more rest. My legs felt good for the most part, it was more a skills problem. I was just sketchy. Need to spend the next few weeks getting on some single track. The road is great for fitness, but the skillz are getting rusty. Need work!
I ended up finishing 19th of 30+ starters in my class with a time of 4:58 and 31st out of about 63 starters. So overall I preserved my mid pack domination, but relegated to the back of the mid pack in the Men's Open. HA!
I can't say enough about the WVMBA races. They pay out good and deep and just put on a great race. There were free foot long Subway Subs and drinks after the race and copious amounts of schwag given away. Results can be found HERE.
Time for a little endurance race/rest. Need to work on some skills, get some bike work done and get ready for the Wilderness 101 on August 1st.
Thanks to iPlayoutside.com for the image.