Wow, that was a humbling experience. I have a new respect for endurance mountain bike racing after competing in the Capitol Forest 100 mile race yesterday.
My long time friend, Gian Dalle, and I had made plans to ride most of the race together. Unfortunately, that plan only lasted about 5 minutes into the race when I clipped my pedal on a rock and twisted my chain. My only option to stay in the race was to turn around and ride back to the start and hope I could find someone with a spare chain. Very fortunately, a race-support mechanic from The Bike Stand in Olympia drove up and offered me a chain. I am so grateful to have had my bike fixed and been able to get back in the race. Nothing would have sucked more than only being able to race the first mile of a 100 mile mtb race!
Once rolling again, I started to have a lot of fun cruising through the different sections of trail. Capitol Forest has some seriously fun singletrack! The race promotors and Friends of Capitol Forest did an amazing job of clearing the 42 miles of singletrack (Imagine how long it would take to even walk that far, not to mention clearing brush!). About ten miles in, I started to catch some other racers and for the rest of the first 50 mile lap I slowly worked my way through the field of riders. It was really encouraging having so many people in front of me to chase down. The second 50 mile lap was a different story...
I had now moved all the way back up to third place and I was still feeling good, but definitely a bit lonely out there. It wasn't until the one and only fire-road section of the race, an 8 mile climb up Capitol Peak, that the mileage really started to catch up with me. I was beginning to have stomach problems, felt like I was going to puke, and my body was hurting in places that had never hurt before. It was a relief to finally make it to the last aid station, where I sucked down a couple of caffeinated clif shots. Those helped big time, and I found enough energy to push over the final climb and down to the finish. Speaking of feed zones, they rocked! There were nine feed stops, in total, and each time that I stopped I was overwhelmed by helpful and friendly volunteers offering me whatever I needed.
I rolled across the line in second place, about twenty minutes behind Gian. Going straight to my car, I sat on the grass for a while and tried to eat. That was a seriously hard race in a way that I am not used to. I guess the pain is a big reason why racing is so satisfying though, right? Sounds like Gian had a pretty easy race. He waited for me for a while, not knowing how long I had been delayed. I think it would have been a close battle between us, but I have a feeling he may have been a little stronger. It's been a long season of racing for me and I'm ready to take a break and then maybe ride and run around in the mud (for shits and giggles).
9 hours and 13,000 feet of climbing. Ouch.
This event, like the Stottlemeyer 60 miler back in May, was a ton of fun. I think it's really great that there is a new mtb race series in Washington, especially an endurance series. I think a lot of people are more interested in these longer "marathon" style events as opposed to the "olympic format" multi-lap races. Roger, head of the NW Epic Series, is even planning to add more races to the calendar next year. I'm excited to see what the future brings.
Pimped my ride!