Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013 High Cascades 100 Race Report

Quick Stats
Place: 11th, Solo Men 40+
Time: 9:40:43Miles: 97-ish (I don't know exactly because the Garmin 810 gets very poor reception in the trees…and we were in the trees a lot) 
Elevation Gain: 10,000-ish (see above)

I absolutely will go back to the High Cascades 100 in 2014.  The 2013 edition didn’t go the way I envisioned it would and I am going to need redemption.  On one hand, the High Cascades 100 was a first-class event, held in a cool town, and attended by a bunch of fun people.  It was everything I look for in an endurance mountain bike event.  On the other hand, I did not have the race I was looking for. 

This was an “A” race for me and I prepared accordingly but for some reason, the “sparkle” didn’t materialize.  I have no tales of epic bonks, no ass-over-tea-kettle crashes, or mental melt-downs requiring post-race psycho-therapy.  I was flat, my legs felt heavy, and I simply was not fast on this day…and the “why” is bugging the shit out of me.  Fast is a relative term.  It would be more accurate to say that I did not have “my fast” on this day.  At least I am stubborn. 

The dust was brutal early in the race
The Pavement
The 5.5 miles of pavement that start this race is definitely the calm before the storm.  In this case, it is the calm before the dust storm.  I really thought there might be some aggression on the pavement to spread things out a bit but the pack just rolled up the road in one big blob.  It was really strange to look down at my HR and see 120-130 bpm 20’ into it.  I am not the guy to go to the front of a 100-mile mtb race and attack in the first couple of miles.  Where was JayP when I needed him?

The Dust
Going into the race, I knew there would be dust early on.  I was not expecting the total solar eclipse that occurred when we hit the dusty two-track as a giant peloton though.  There was carnage immediately.  Defending champion, Barry Wicks, broke his collarbone at mile 8.  Another rider piled it up just in front of me and I am sure there were other countless near-misses.  You simply could not see the ground and had to hope that the guy in front of you could see…all while trying to go as fast as possible less than an hour into the race.  Yikes! 

The riding in Bend, OR was awesome

No, I am not just describing the riding.  The trail is actually named Funner…and it is.  We hit Funner about an hour into the race and I was able to ride all but one of the tricky rock sections.  If you were unlucky, you could easily get stuck behind a conga-line of riders choosing to dismount frequently in this section so I was stoked to breeze through it quickly.  Pre-riding this section was a good call.

Smiles at the Aid Stations
I had planned to be self-supported at the HC100 and packed my drop coolers accordingly.  Our friend Beth Bolen was in Bend to support her hubby so I was pleasantly surprised when she offered to help me with a quick transition at the Swampy Aid, and every aid station after that.  It was super helpful and definitely an energy boost to see a friendly smiling face at all of the aid stations.  Thanks Beth, you rock!

Check out my Sick Air!
Happy Valley is a Happy Place
Holy shit, that area is beautiful.  From what I am told, this part of the course can only be used during years when winter snowfall is less than normal because there is typically still snow on the trail in July.  I got a little bit of mojo back around mile 40 and I distinctly remember thinking that the trail from mile 45 to 55-ish was just incredible.  We rode through giant Douglas Fir trees, huge green meadows, snow drifts just off the trail, high mountain river crossings, and loamy dirt.  When I visualize riding my mountain bike in Oregon that trail is exactly what I will think of from now on.

The Final Leg
What little bit of mojo I had conjured quickly left my body as I left Aid #5 for the last 21 miles.  On paper, we had already knocked out most of the climbing so how hard could it be?  Plus, there was 5 miles of pavement to finish it off.  No problem right?

My traveling buddy AJ and I had pre-ridden one of the last pieces of singletrack called Tiddlywinks on Friday and I couldn't wait to get on those banked corners and table-tops and send it.  For a little video of Tiddlywinks, check out the Start/Finish Preview by Dirtwire.Tv.  In fact, the entire trail after Aid #5 is great.  The problem is that you are so hammered by the time you get there you can't fully enjoy it. Ha!  Having something left in the tank late in a 100-mile race is usually my specialty but not on this day.  I was crawling up the climbs after Aid #5 and just surviving.  In my mind, if I could just get to Tiddlywinks I was home free.

Tiddlywinks did not disappoint and I did, in my feeble state, attempt to “send it”.  Now for the cruel twist to this part of my story.  AJ failed to properly describe the last piece of singletrack, Storm King, to me.  I had it in my brain that it was a very short piece of trail used to get us onto the pavement and back to the finish line.  In reality, it is a long damn trail.  I don’t know how long I descended but I have renamed the trail, “Storm King Never Fucking Ends Trail”.  My triceps were on fiiiiire.  Storm King did finally end and I banged out the final miles of pavement by channeling my inner Jens Voigt.

As I rolled under the Kenda arch at the finish, a smiling volunteer handed me an ice-cold wash cloth for my face (a very nice touch by the way) and AJ gave me a high-five.

The Finisher Growler 
Random Post-Race Thoughts
Mike Ripley and Mudslinger Events nailed it.  Having been to races of all shapes & sizes, I truly appreciate it when a race director takes care of the details:  Great course markings, good info leading up to the race, awesome aid stations & volunteers, good finish line scene, free food for racers, free beer for racers, great schwag, and timely results.  

An added bonus to the trip was traveling and sharing a room with my Fitzgerald’s Bicycles Teammate AJ Linnell from Victor, ID.  AJ absolutely killed it and won the Singlespeed Open race.  AJ is getting to be kinda famous and now has to do post-race interviews.

The Deschutes River is a glorious place to soak immediately following a hot, 100-mile mountain bike race.

AJ Linnell, so hawt right now


JayP said...

yea buddy, amazing dedication and discipline you have! now to just accept those flat days as for what they are, no "why's" to figure out - it is the complicated human body and experiences like this are the only way to learn. keep it up and you know where i was at and would of been proud as i was attacking just up the road at the beginning of my 5hundo in Hood River...

AJ said...

Yeah buddy! Fun traveling with you for sure. Way to tough it out--stubbornness counts for a lot.

EricB said...

way to go! great that you powered on through. so hard to predict why one might feel flat--just worth noting the way you felt and prepared leading up to the event for future reference and clues. sometimes it is nothing you have done.

could it have been the heat? it was touching temperatures of up to 104 when i was racing in bend this weekend.

now you know -- if you didn't already -- that even in the worst case with flat legs you can still power through 100 miles of single track and have a result that would thrill many riders. imagine what will happen next year when you are equally well prepared AND have a day when there is no chain.

Cheryl said...

This is great!