Friday, September 09, 2005


SM100 summary

I will warn you ahead of time this will be long.
I have been a volunteer for every SM 100 race since the beginning. I have always wondered what it would be like to actually be a "racer". This is my story and I am sticking to it. In spite of a great experience, I look forward to being a volunteer again next year.
I arrived Friday night as I always do so I get my pick of the best campsites. This year we took over a sweet forested section to the right of the main grassy area and filled it with MORE friends and racers for the long weekend. Enjoyed a nice dinner with Margaret Friday night and got up Saturday knowing I was not doing the volunteer ride for the first time. Well I sorta did part of it. I ended up shuttling 5 people up to the top of Reddish Knob and then got back to the camp to start to prepare everything I needed for Sunday. I ended up reverting to old ways and spent too much time at the pavilion helping with setup and providing "advice" to Anne on what needed to be done in the kitchen. I hooked up with Mike Scardaville, his girlfriend Tris and Joe Foley for a "short" 15 minute tuneup ride. They were still going out after 15 minutes when I decided I needed to get back. I got back and continued to give "advice" to all in the kitchen until they said or I should say demanded that I rest and get ready for tomorrow. So I left and got ready for dinner. It was kinda nice to just show up stand in line and get my food and eat it and then stay seated for the racers meeting. Chris the Race Director was really kind and acknowledged both Chief the 6 year running Aid Station 5 Manager and I as racing this year instead of helping. After the racers meeting it felt weird not having to stay for the volunteers meeting since I had no responsibilities there anymore. I sorta missed that.
We hung around the Camp for a bit getting everything in order. I could not decide whether I should take my shock pump with me or not since I was thinking of the extra weight. I decided that I needed to be safe than sorry and packed in my camelback. Nancy Devore my coach for XTERRA the last 18 months told me to relax have fun and to get to (Aid Station) AS5 and she would be there to ride the last two sections with me. I then went to bed waking up about 15 minutes later than I wanted since I wanted to cook a hot breakfast for Erin, Becky and I and still have an hour before the start. We managed to get it all done and I lined up for the start.
I had been warned to take it easy the first few miles and I probably took it too easy. I had a small problem with my suspension fork on the first downhill but a few pumps of the shock pump and I was all set. I also had what turned out to be my only fall of the day when I mis- timed the person in front of me going through a creek at the bottom of Wolf Ridge and I ended up on all fours into the creek. No real damage except my pride and couple of scratches that got cleaned up at AS2. By the time I got to AS2 4 hrs later there were less than 40 people behind me out of 350 that started. Little did I know then that only two people behind me would actually finish the race. I felt pretty good at AS2 and ate a little bit and filled up on water and stuffed a lot of food in my pockets as I knew the next 12 miles were going to be hard.
The Hankey Mt climb was harder than I remembered and I had done that climb numerous times before but not after riding for 4 hours though. The ride down Dowells Draft was as fun as I remember and I did pass quite a few people on the way to AS3. I felt pretty good at AS3 and filled up on water again got a sweet short neck massage from one of the volunteers and headed for AS4. Time elapsed at this point was about 6 hrs. I was about half done so my12 hr - 13 hr goal was sorta of in reach so I thought.
I hooked up with two guys to form a pace line for the 5 mile road section of US250. This was a good and bad thing. The good thing was we got through that section faster than I would have alone but bad in the sense that I think I wiped out whatever reserve I had. The climb up Braley's was the by far the worst experience I had had in 5-6 previous rides up Braley's. The climbing seemed to never end and every time I got on my bike to pedal I almost fell off the side of the cliff. Finally I reached the top and was so looking forward to the downhill. It was also the worst I had ever experienced. I was so beat that I could not appreciate the sweet descent. I kept almost crashing to the point of ready to just say screw it and quit but I kept going. I arrived into AS4 to many familiar faces including Brian Junkins who took this year off to help. He gave me some great encouragement although I knew I had to look like crap at that point. Just as I was getting ready to head up to AS5 and the death march, Marcus Popetz comes rolling in. He says he will ride with me to the finish. He also was a god send because the next section was the only section of the race course that I had never been on. He had ridden it a few weeks back with Joe Foley and crew.
Time elapsed is now close to 9 hours. I am no longer confident that I can finish this even in 14 hrs which would be 2 hrs per aid station. We have 3.5 hrs to make it to AS5 before the cutoff for continuing is reached. Everyone says we should be able to do it in about 2.5 hours.
We start the death march and we are rolling along pretty good when I start a serious bonk. I can still pedal but I cannot get my heart rate above 114. I usually can get it to 145-150 pretty easily. I stop and eat more oatmeal raisin cookies , some chips and trail mix plus another shot of hammer gel. After about 15 minutes that seems to help and I can now get my heart rate up to 140 or so. We continue the climb and it starts getting steeper and harder. I tell Marcus to go on but he refuses, I finally convince him to go ahead and tell Nancy that I am still riding and I hope to make it before the cutoff. Just as I am ready to throw in the towel again here comes Nancy down the road. She coaxes me to the AS5 and I get ready to continue. For some reason I start to get a 2nd wind at the AS knowing that I made it with 15 minutes before the cutoff. I fill up my camelback and go to get my drop bags and panic sets in. No drop bag!!! Apparently someone sent a bunch of drop bags back down the hill thinking the people decided not to use them including mine that had my lights in them. Luckily many people did leave without taking their lights and I was able to cobble two light systems for my helmet and bar. Also at this point I find out that a real good friend Bean whom I thought was way ahead of me was in fact just a mile back. Nancy took off down the hill to retrieve her and Marcus and I took off towards AS6 hoping that they would catch-up.
At this point I am really feeling better plus Marcus and others had warned me of the 3 false summits that we would hit before the real downhill towards AS6. We got almost to the top of Little Bald when we heard Nancy and Bean behind us. That also gave an extra adrenaline boost. Just as we reached Little Bald the sun disappeared behind the horizon and we missed the sunset. We arrived to the opening in the woods for the Chestnut Ridge downhill and it was pitch black inside. Marcus, Nancy and Bean had all ridden this section before and said the first 200 meters or so were really sketchy and maybe we should walk them since it was pretty dark. After a little discussion as who would go first I decided to just do it. I turned on my lights pointed the bike downhill and did not stop for at least 2 miles of rip roaring rocky rooty twisty gorgeous singletrack almost all downhill !! I stopped a few times and looked back hoping to see lights of the other three but did not. After another mile or so I decided to stop, turned off my lights and just sat down next to a fallen log scraping my arm in the process. After 4-5 minutes I finally saw lights and sure enough everyone had caught up. It turns out that they had some initial lighting issues and they had to fix those. So we continued on for another 4 miles or so of the same stuff with a few small climbs thrown in. As I approached the road leading to AS6 I came across Chris Barnes, the Firefighter from Fairfax whom I rode quite a bit with until AS4 when he went by me. We all rolled into AS6 at about 9 pm some 14 and hours from the start. We fueled up, put more water in the camelbacks, ate a few more oatmeal cookies and headed for the finish.
The climb up Hankey was really hurting me but my adrenalin rush from the downhill was easing the pain considerably. We finally made it to the turn off and headed down knowing we only had one small climb left. 3 weeks ago on a pre-ride I rode that climb in the middle ring. That night I could barely walk up it let alone ride it. We did make it and headed for the finish line. We all decided that we would all finish at the same time across the line. As we headed down the last in the woods singletrack, there was about an 18 inch or so log across the trail. I do not know what possessed me to do it but I decided to try and jump over it not realizing that I could have endo'ed and maybe not finished. The MTB Gods were with me cuz I flew over that thing like it was not even there. Marcus was behind me and Nancy behind him. I hear Nancy yell out "Did he really jump that thing" and Marcus said "He sure did. " They rode around it and we headed for home.
When we got into the campground the place erupted in cheer as we wound through the campsites heading for the big grassy stretch to the finish line, the pavilion, and the food and beer. As we approached the finish line there were at least 50 people waiting on us and yelling and whooping. At that point I knew that despite all my pain and suffering this was really worth everything I had done to get here. As I crossed the finish line I saw my wife Margaret and Marcus's wife waiting for us. Tris Newbury was there with a full pint glass for me. I rang the gong and walked into to the pavilion to more applause and hollering. You would have thought I had just won the damn race. Anne was there with a plate of food for all of us and she had managed to save a plate of fries for me telling me that she had to fend of numerous attempts of people trying to eat them.
After decompressing for about 2 hours I went to sleep and got up the next morning and helped Anne get ready for the annual ritual of feeding pancakes to all the MORE members that came to the race. It was clearly a lot harder to serve pancakes and tear down camp than previous years when all I did was help in the kitchen and drink till I was stupid.
So as I ponder after a few days I have come to the following conclusions:
This is a very hard life event Those that finish under 13 hrs are really dedicated to a training regimen and healthy lifestyle I have incredible respect for those racers that finish in 10-11 hrs and drank half a keg of beer the night before and the other half after the race.
I really want to help cook and organize again. I really think I enjoy helping out more than participating in the actual event.
So I will be back cooking, sweeping, leading rides and just plain helping.
A huge thank you to everyone that helped me get through this and help make it a real positive memorable event in my old life.

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