Monday, August 19, 2002

Wild 100 - 2002

Friday 8/16:

Trainwreck, Rotorhead and myself (Roadent) arrived at the Elk River Touring Center at 4:30pm. and setup camp. We worked a bit on Rotor's bike and it gave us all a good scare when the screws that hold his derailleur hanger snapped. Trainwreck used a wrench that was WAY too big to try to straighten the hanger. It turns out the hanger is held in by the wheel and QR, but we still scrambled around Friday night trying to find a better screw for it. In the end we stuck with the old screws and said a prayer. We packed up a box for CP4...lights, tools, tubes, a tire, and changes of clothes. Then headed out for dinner.

We ate dinner at the Elk River lodge and changed Rotor's nickname to Pork Chop since he was the only one to get enough to eat. (Note to self: N2S) don't talk TW out of making pasta and meat sauce for Friday dinner next year.

I forgot my alarm clock, so I was a little worried about getting up Saturday, being the only real morning person last year. I figured TW and PC had theirs, so we were good. Set the alarms for 5:30. Since I didn't have watch or clock, I woke up about 100 times... at some point it started raining... that didn't help... I didn't look forward to racing all day in the rain. Then came the thought... If I can ride when it's 25 outside, I can ride in the rain at 70 or 80. Go Lance!

Saturday 8/17:

I woke up about 6:00am. as I heard TW and Pork Chop moving around. The riders meeting is at 6:45am. so I was a bit more crunched for time than I wanted to be. Get dressed eat a quick breakfast and transport our CP4 box to the lodge for transport.

We show up at the meeting on time, and then have to wait since there is almost nobody there. The meeting starts at 6:55, we go over the rules and stuff... the maps are handed out and we're off at about 7:10am.

CP1: Prop's Run. We have a choice of the 5 mile gravel road climb we did last year, or climb Prop's directly. It's marked as a difficult trail on the map, but we decide on climbing it. Definitely the right choice. The three of us hang together until the trail tips up... then it's a carbon copy of last year. TW and Pork Chop leave me close to blowing up on the trail. I think it was about a 3 mile climb to the check point. I started feeling better after about 2 miles, but figured I'd conserve energy until I got to the CP. TW and PC would be waiting there or at the top of the trail for me, and I'd hook back up. I think I ate too much breakfast too close to the start to really feel my best on the climb. (N2S: get up early enough to eat and digest your breakfast)

I'm not sure how long they waited (TW's time check was 10 minutes in front of me!), but I hit the CP, popped some advil, took a drink, and we were off again. I was feeling much better once we got to the top of Prop's Run. Somewhere here I notice my compass is gone. Don't trust those pins on the ball compasses to hold when you're working up climbs.

CP2: USFS134 The checkpoint was on a short 'extremely difficult' (map markings) trail. We took the gravel road to USFS135 and 135 to the trailhead closest to the CP. Then climbed, walking for some portions, to the CP. I think it was about 10:00am... I really wish they would post the CP times on Pork Chop is starting to move a bit slower, now that I'm feeling better... but his technical and descending skills are making up the difference. We descended down the long part of the trail back to the fire road and on to CP3.

CP3: Unlike last year CP3 is easy to find. We have a choice of bushwhacking or taking moderate to easy trails all the way there... I'm for the trails since I think we can make good time, TW is for bushwacking... until he sees we have to go UP a nasty climb. We later figured we would have had to wack up 800 feet in a 1/2 mile. We do the trails. Somewhere in here, I start having trouble getting into the second smallest gear. As we get closer to CP3, it gets worse, and eventually I'm working the front rings and the middle of the cassette.

There was one fast downhill that we were in line for. TW, myself and PorkChop were cooking at about 25 mph when TW sees the trail we wanted to the right, he brakes hard, I go around him and brake hard, and Rotor has to dodge both of us! No pain, just some screams and a good adrenalin rush.

About 1/2 mile from the CP, totally unknown to me, I look at Pork Chop and say Frycook's line from last year. "I don't care how close the check point is, I'm sitting down right here!" I think he thought I was serious for a second.

At CP3, TrainWrench lubes our chains and works my shifting into some semblance of order. I'm still missing the second smallest gear, but I can work around one gear. I later found out my 30 gear is bent. Fortunately it was new, so I can send it back as defective. I notice here that my camel is practically full, so now I also have to remember to start drinking more. We eat PBJ's, load up on gels and head on to CP4. Time is about 12:30

CP4: Pork Chop figured we've got 6 CP's, and our goal is to finish in 12 hours or less (since it took 13.5 last year), so 2 hours per checkpoint. So far we're ahead of this schedule by about 1/2 hour.

Until now, it's been a much easier race than last year. Getting to CP4 is where the pain really starts. We have to backtrack most of the trail we just rode to get to CP3, and then continue to climb to the top of Tea Creek Mountain. Climbing Tea Creek mountain is not really fun. We end up spinning some and pushing some. At the top, it's like walking on the moon. There is a real cool rock garden up there that has some pretty long ridable spots... but there is no way we're riding any of it at this point in the race. We'd done this trail last year, so we knew what to expect... a sweet 2-3 mile downhill on the other side to CP4. TW left us before the rock garden and PC left me on the downhill. Last year I had the advantage of following Frycook all the way down. This year I was on my own and couldn't find a rhythm for anything. One guy passed me, and I tried following, but he left me also. "Don't look left, find the groove..." nothing. I made it to the bottom in the most ugly fashion.

TW was changed, looking fresh, and ready to wrench again. Having a full change of clothes was wonderful, once I found a quiet secluded place to change. (Don't want anyone getting a look!) A few banana puddings later (and more gel and bars) and we're off to CP5. Time is 2:30, so we're still about 1/2 hour ahead of the schedule.

CP5: Bear Pen Our trail choices here are: 1. Bannock Shoals, a LONG and moderate climb that goes on forever. We did it last year and thought it was boring and way too long. 2. Turkey Point which is an extremely difficult climb that we descended a good portion of (ie. walked) last year to CP1. Finally, 3. Tea Creek trail, which was marked extremely difficult, but looked doable. Not many topo lines, and it followed a creek all the way up to Bear Pen trail where CP5 was located. Bannock Shoals was about 3 times longer than Tea Creek and had a good deal of gravel road on it. Last year, I had my 'moment' on those roads. We decided to do Tea Creek... oh, yea... there was a little marking saying 'not recommended' on Tea Creek. Now we know why.

So we turn on to Tea creek and immediately are off the bike. Hiking along a steep trail next to the creek. Then it starts to rain again... so much for dry clothes. At one point, early in the trail, about 20 feet above the creek, there is a section about 6 foot long that is mostly washed out. TW crosses with his bike no problem. I start across, and loose my footing. As I'm sliding down I hear Pork Chop saying something like 'look out!'. In slow motion, as I'm headed for the creek I see a small tree/bush thing. If I can get my foot it I figure it might stop my slide. And it actually worked! I slid about 3 feet down the hill, and am stuck there with my bike in hand. I handed the bike to TW, and grab another tree/bush thing and am able to climb up. Pork Chop makes the crossing, no problem and we're away again. We later find out that Jen's partner Paul, didn't have the luck I did, and he slid all the way down to the creek. Both teams should have turned around then and headed up Bannock Shoals. Hindsight is 20/20.

What followed was a 4 mile hike along the creek. The creek was beautiful, and we're glad we did it, only so we know not to use that trail in the race again. We crossed the creek (about 20 yards across) about 6-8 times, and rode about 1/4 mile of the trail. We got to Bear Pen trail, and rode some and hiked a lot of that up to CP5. I think our time here was 5:00... I checked my map here to see what the end of the race looked like... That was the last I saw if it. I think I left it there.

CP6: The Lodge Once you get to CP5, you're basically done. You only have to finish the Bear Pen trail and descend down the gravel road to the lodge and CP6. This year CP5, was not at the top of the mountain, so we had to climb through some sandy/rocky trail and then descend to the road. PC and TW left me behind on the descents again, and I was hiking this stuff. It looked like a pretty badly eroded trail, with banks on the sides. At one point, I decided I had walked enough, so I was going to ride this through with whatever lines I could to get. This probably didn't help Rotor, since I actually caught and passed him walking, and made the fire road before him.

We regrouped, and with the TW motivational quote of the day: "Eat a gel or bar and let's make a concerted effort to not get caught on this road". So we ate, took some iplayoutside photo-ops, and started down.

4-5 miles of gravel fire road, at 35-37 mph. I remembered some of it from last year, and there were some nasty turns that we saw (fortunately) before we hit them. I think I made TW a little nervous with my Roadent like attitude on this stuff. It wasn't as bad as some have seen, just a little loose on the gravel. We kept everyone upright, and nobody caught us. We got to the road made the left and headed for the finish, a shower, and dinner.

10 hours 39 minutes for 60 miles. 110 starters, 19 DNF's We placed 48,49, and 50 out of 91 riders (total, not including teams as in the results on IPO), so we were just about the middle of the overall field. 31,32 and 33 out of 51 solo riders that finished with 6 DNF's. If Pork Chop and TW had stuck as a duo male, they'd have placed 8 out of 14.

We figure we may have lost about 30 minutes on Tea Creek, though we'd have had the mental game of the climb to contend with. We know that there were riders that left CP4 after us and finished before us. Knowing that we'll be on Bannock Shoals next year, we can be mentally prepared for it.

Overall, this year was easier than last year. We rode 60 miles instead of 70+. Even if we'd done Bannock Shoals, we wouldn't have topped 70. Experience is huge. With the winner at 6 hours 41 minutes, knowing what trails to take is a definite advantage.

(N2S: When the map says 'not recommended'... believe it! or you'll be walking!... a lot.)

Who's in for next year?