Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cohutta Race Report

Vanessa and I always enjoy the drive over and down to Cohutta. We end up traveling through Waynesboro where we stop at the rest stop and have a picnic each year. Not long after that, we find ourselves in the Nantahala Gorge which is very scenic to drive through.

When we arrived at the Thunder Rock campground, we were greeted by my parents who arrived the day prior and picked out the perfect campsite. I am glad that they decided to join us for the weekend as it is always nice to spend time with them. When my mom is around, we can be assured that a good meal will be served. The chicken stir fry was delicious.


The week leading up to the race, the forecast had been calling for rain coupled with cool temperatures. Just like everyone else, I was puzzled when it came to figuring out what attire I should wear on race day. As I was sound asleep in the tent, I was awaken by the pitter patter of rain. As the rain continued, it intensified and my motivation to take the start line seemed to get washed away. I was unable to fall back to sleep as I lay there listening to the rain still trying to figure out how to suit up for the day ahead.  I decided on knickers, a short sleeve jersey and arm warmers. This would prove to be the perfect choice for me as I was mostly comfortable for the duration of the ride.

Instead of riding to the start as usual, I hitched a ride and proceeded to wait for 7:00 to roll around. Being that this was my first NUE series race on gears, I decided to take a spot in the front row and lined up next to guys who have some serious 100 mile speed. Even though this race starts with a climb, I found it much easier to stay at the front with gears. The bike I ended up choosing for this race is one that I spend a lot of time on. The problem is, I only ride this bike on roads and gravel. I have had it on singletrack a few times in the past and was not a fan of how it handled. This had me a bit nervous on how well I would handle the slick singletrack on this particular bike. Because of this, I waived some folks by just prior to entering the singletrack and this included Gerry Pflug.

As it turns out, Gerry was able to hang onto the back of the lead group while I found myself in a trio which fell back. This was just fine with me as it gave me a chance to feel out the bike while not feeling any pressure. It didn't take long until I felt like I needed to try to reconnect with the lead group and shortly after asking for a couple of passes, I was on my way. I managed to reconnect with Gerry and follow his lead until we caught up to Garth, Luke and a couple others. Somewhere within the first half hour of the race, I managed to pick a horrible line through a root lace causing my wheel to get laterally torqued which resulted in burping my tire. Not wanting to stop so early in the race, I decided to take a chance and ride on the low pressure. I happened to ride on this tire the rest of the race and upon finishing discovered that I was running on 15psi.

As soon as we hit a few singletrack climbs, Gerry and his rain pants dropped our little group like we were sitting still. A few minutes later the most entertaining part of the race took place when Garth decided that he would show us how to wash out at high speed in gravel. This was followed with howling that seemed to last forever and surely scared off anything and anyone in the vicinity. Not ten minutes later Garth came flying by and took the rest of our group with him. I would end up spending the rest of the race pretty much solo using the time alone trying to figure out how to ride with gears.

To make a challenging day even more interesting, my front brake decided to completely die only a couple hours into this event. I swear I looked at my pads prior to leaving home but I guess I didn't look close enough. They were gone and my rear brake was catching about 1/2 inch from the bars. Being that I didn't feel like trying to use a tiny allen wrench with shaky hands to adjust the lever throw, I just let them be and rode accordingly.

Nothing too interesting happened during the remainder of the race. Here are a few things that stick out in my mind.

It was very difficult to see most of the day due to mud splattered glasses. I would like to have taken them off but that wouldn't have worked out too well.

I met Jesse Kelly who I rode off and on with. He was riding a bike which included a dropper seatpost, a fender, and looked like a tank. He was able to drop me at will while climbing which left me very impressed. What really impressed me is that guys of his size are usually not climbers and here he was dropping me 90 miles into a race.

Trying to grab cookies out of my jersey pocket while riding through a swamp with minimal braking ability can prove to be challenging and can put one into a tree rather quickly.

I was sitting in 12th place leaving the last aid station and managed to lose two places in the last 15 miles.

My nutrition was spot on for this race thanks to my carb blend mixed with Elete. There was no bonking, upset stomach, cramping etc...

The Wolf Tooth Components chainring that I installed the day before the race performed flawlessly. I am very impressed with this ring. It is definitley the way to go for a 1x10 setup.

Vanessa and my parents volunteered at aid station 3/6 for the day. When I rolled up both times, all I had to do was stop and 10 seconds later I was off with full bottles and rinsed glasses. You guys make the best pit crew. Thanks for spending your day working in the nasty weather to make my race as well as many other racers day a little smoother. I heard that my mom was a little confused on how the whole drop bag thing worked. If anyone was missing a Payday out of their drop bag.... she now knows that the drop bags are not for the volunteers.

I finished in 9h 28m which was about 45 minutes slower than last year. I ended up 14th in the open class and 17th overall.

It is tough to crawl out of a warm tent knowing you're going to be soaked, cold and riding in slop all day however once on the bike all of the worries disappear and the adventure begins. I really enjoyed how the Cohutta 100 played out this year but.. it would be ok with me if it were warm and dry next year.

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