Wednesday, September 5, 2012

SM100 Race Report

The Shenandoah Mountain 100 was my first hundred mile race two years ago. My goal back then was to simply have fun and finish. Last year, the SM100 was my fifth hundred and it was the first one in which I would be able to compare results with the year before. I had a good race finishing with a time of 8:50, besting my previous time by an hour and ten minutes. I have continued to learn and improve with every race so for the SM100 this year, I was shooting for an 8:15-8:30 finish time.

In years prior, the SM100 course had been bone dry and in pristine condition. After completing my short preride Saturday afternoon, I could tell that the course this year had the potential to be quite challenging. With rain in the days prior to the race and more scheduled for race day, I was looking forward to the extreme weather and trail conditions that we were likely to encounter.

The start of the race is fast as it is on a flat paved road. Once we hit some rolling terrain, the large mass of riders began to break up and I was able to identify some of my competition. I found myself trading places with Watts Dixon, Ben Barnard, and a few other unknown singlespeeders. At the first steep climb, I was able to work through a maze of geared riders and lose contact with Watts and Ben.

After this point, I don't remember too many details about the race. Maybe it's because I spent a large part of the day alone or maybe it's because the weather/trail conditions got nasty out there and I loved every second of it. Here are some random bits that stick out in my mind..

- Riding for an hour or so with Lance Pope who was pushing a huge gear. We were discussing his gear choice and the trail conditions wondering if he'd be able to finish. He matched me on every climb until I was able to beat him out of an aid station. I never saw him again but he did finish.

- My glasses were useless. They hung on my helmet or hid out in my pocket for the entire time. This made being in the tuck position interesting as sand and dirt were streaming off my tires directly into my face.

- The skies opened up a couple times and it rained hard.

- The fireroads were soft but not too bad. The most difficult part of the course was the "meadows" slog which was a long continuous climb in deep, slick mud. There were many sections that were like riding in a stream. There was no telling how deep the puddles were going to be so it became a game of pick one and hope it wasn't going to put you over the bars.

- There was mud everywhere out there. Everything was super slick so I was just hoping to stay upright.

- The Twizzlers that I keep in my jersey pocket were wet and covered in mud/sand all day long. It was wonderful eating grit all afternoon.

- There were a couple of long flat sections out there where I was all alone. I didn't catch anybody and no one caught me. I kept looking back hoping for a train of riders but had to ride these sections solo which was slow and monotonous.

I was able to keep a constant pace and felt great all day. I finished up with a time of 9:01  which was slower than my targeted time but good enough for 5th place singlespeed. I gave it all I had, felt great and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

The conditions encountered out there were like a torture test on the equipment. I have to thank Grassroots Bikes, Squirt Lube, and Endless Bikes for keeping my bike running smooth and performing flawlessly.


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