Sunday, September 19, 2004

Fall Challenge Road Race - 2004

Summit Freewheelers

September 19, 2004

Pretty much the last road race of the season (that's why there's a 'cross season). Geoff and I drove to Cuyahoga Falls to meet Dan and Ryan. Ryan and I had to exercise some demons from last year where we both popped off the back after the first climb and worked together to finish the distance, no where near the front group again.

Cool and clear was the order of the day. I even contemplated wearing the arm and knee warmers. I dumped them at the last minutes, and had no regrets after we started moving.

The course is rolling with a long descent into the Cuyahoga River Valley on Wetmore road, and the only significant climb right as we turn onto Quick road. The B race was doing 5 laps for about 41 miles. There were a couple of course issues with steel plates completely across the road on Haas, followed shortly by a pair of cones warning of some pavement cutting right in the middle of the road..

There were a lot of singles out. We had 4 Chaos, 3 StarkVelo and 2 SnakeBite, 2 Pyro, 2 or 3 PDQ. Obviously, there were 3 or 4 Summit guys, then 1 Savage, 1 Color Me Safe and a smattering of others. Total field of 32 including the 3 or so women. It's a Cat 4/5/Cit/Women/Junior field, so the range was pretty big.

The plan for the day was to make sure we covered any breaks and see how it goes. Dan was thinking of trying to get as many to the front at the finish and see if we could lead something out. Geoff thought we need to make sure the pace didn't drop after the climb. That way it would be a little harder for big sprinters to catch back on after the climb. Of course, I somehow missed who Dan was planning on watching.

The Race

Off we go for the first lap, pretty much a recon of the course. Nothing significant until we hit the bottom of Quick rd and headed into the hill. We had a pretty even pace over the top, and then the pace dropped. We had an average of about 22 at the bottom, and were doing about 15 once over the steep part. I did one easy pull and had a hard time getting off the front. Then Dan and Ryan moved up, and we setup the three of us on the front. Dan slowly picked the pace up, and then pulled off. As he came by Ryan and I, he told us to go. I encourage Ryan as he pushed it a bit harder and I got to follow Ryan's wheel. Dan blocked and we opened up a reasonable gap. I told Ryan we weren't going to kill ourselves, just make everyone work to bring us back. It lasted about 1-2 minutes tops, before it was shut down. It did make people think that Chaos was serious today though.

On Steels Corners, I saw what must have been the first casualty of the day. John Reade (Honey-Stinger) was walking his bike back to the school... broken chain within the first half lap (or less). Suddenly, I remembered I was still carrying my seat pack. Great... with some coaching from Dan I decided to drop it on Haas road. I dropped back into the field, removing it, and dropped it onto the side of the road. Geoff was there for more coaching. Fortunately, there was no yellow line here, so I was able to move back up near the front pretty quickly.

Second time up the hill, and the pace remains pretty steady. This time at the top a Summit guy gets to the front and sets a really quick pace. We're humming along at 18-20, which is exactly what Geoff was wanting. quick enough to make it hard for guys to come back after the hill, but comfortable to sit in... and it wasn't one of our guys throwing himself away.

As the Summit guy comes off the front close to the last rises before the start finish, Dave and Mark from Square Wheels are on the front with Ryan. There's the stronger StarkVelo guy, then me. As we hit the rises Ryan again pushes it, and the Stark guy lets a gap open. I'm not going to close it, so I let the guy work himself a bit.

I know all three guys in the break, and one of them is my teammate. Very nice position to be in. They've got about 100M as we roll through the finish, and they keep opening it up. I've got the Stark guy stuck on the front, and am only enjoying what is happening. Eventually, his two teammates move up and start to work together to bring them back... with Dan and I getting in the way a little. They stayed away for the better part of a lap. It's all together as we turn toward Quick.

In the Valley, Chris Staneluis (Color Me Safe) took off and gapped the field convincingly on the climb. A very nice effort, he managed to stay away until we were about a mile from the finish. All together with two go.

Chaos working near the front at the top of the climb

The field must have sensed it would be a pack finish, because not much happened of note on the 4th lap.

Final lap... what's going to happen now? I'm watching a lone Savage Hill rider, and the StarkVelo guy (Rick?). At the rise on Haas, the Savage rider has a go and takes Brett from SnakeBite with him.... and I couldn't hold their pace and let the gap open. I'm not worried about Brett because of the hill coming up, but I don't know the Savage rider. Last lap panic, and I start to chase... on a descent. I'm not alone, but there is very little cohesion in the efforts. The best I had was when Staneluis came around me, and I was able to jump on his wheel. When he eased up I tried to come around and tow him for a bit, but I looked back and we were almost all together again. Quite a bit of effort on my part... and again it was all together at the bottom of the Valley.

I put myself at the front on the last time up the hill... I did not want to loose another move. I still needed to recover more, so I wasn't going to chase. But I also didn't want to loose the front group.

Just as we crested the hill, Staneluis took another flyer... and looked good to hold on to the end. He opened up a gap quickly, and seemed to be able to hold us off for a while. I stayed near the front and tried to follow whoever was going to pull the group... and ended up doing a little more work than I wanted... again. I think we caught him about the same place as last time.

It all came together again about a mile before the finish. So we had the normal jostling for position. Stuff 20-25 guys into one lane when everyone wants to be near the front.... and there will be some bumping. Cresting the last rise, Dan and 2 of the 3 Stark Velo's crossed the yellow to get into position (naughty, naughty...) at my expense... but then I had Dan's wheel, so I wasn't complaining too much.

200 meters was supposed to be right at the crest of the hill before the finish. We were supposed to be allowed to use the whole road at that point. But no one went, so Dan did the work from the front... I tried to hold on to his wheel, but it was too much. Dan opened a nice gap and held off the field for the V! I picked up a few more as I got into my sprint and rolled over in 4th (by inches... another 5 ft, and I'd have been 3rd). Ryan came across in 12th. Geoff came through in the field.


Overall, a great race. Nice representation by the team. It's very cool to have your team controlling the front of the peleton throughout the whole race. Not working, but there. Ready to respond to whatever happens or presents itself. Nice work by all.

1Dan GuggenheimCleveland Chaos
2Erik LescoStarkVelo
3Ted IngrahamSummit Freewheelers
4John EhrlingerCleveland Chaos
6Brett DavisSnakeBite

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Wild 100 - 2004

Elk River Touring Center
August 14, 2004
Year 4

For the last 3 years, I've done the Wild 100 mountain bike race with Trainwreck (TW). We've had a variety of cohorts in our adventures in pain, and this year was no different. Jen's been here for the last 2 years, and we had a few new first timers. Brian Lennon and Mike Ryba are CAMBA members from Cleveland, and Jesper from NC.

Mike, Jen, Jesper, Brian, Trainwreck, me

This race can only be described as EPIC. No matter what happens, the format of the race guarantees you will be on the bike longer than you want to be, going over some of the roughest terrain you can imagine for the entire day... or longer. You are given a trail map of the Slatyfork, WV trails at 7:00 AM with a collection of checkpoints scattered all over the mountain. None of the racers know where the checkpoints are until the maps are passed out. You have to hit the checkpoints in order, but the route is completely up to you. The only rule is you must stay off pavement except where specifically marked as legal. To succeed in this race, you need orienteering skills, rocking technical riding skills, good fitness and stamina like you've never used in a race before. The race is divided into multiple categories, with solo and team formats, as well as first timer and over 50 categories. The basic Wild 100 has 5 checkpoints, and should work out to be about 100K, there is also a 100+ category for those riders that think 100K on a mountain bike is just a little 2 easy. The 100+ adds an extra checkpoint and somewhere between 5 and 10 extra miles.

In first 2 years, we did 64 miles in 12.5 hours and 60 miles in 10:40. Last year they introduced the 100+ and TW and I did 70 miles in 11:28. We've been rained on every year except for the last one, where it didn't matter, because so much water came up from the trails, that we were actually wetter than if it had only rained from the sky. After the first year, this event became my main training goal. Nothing like an all day event, riding beyond your technical and physical limits to drive a training program.

Last year, unlike previous years were I felt almost like baggage, Trainwreck and myself were at similar levels. He still smoked me on any technical stuff, but I'd catch him on the roadie like fire road climbs and descents. We worked out our path choices together and pretty much hung together, trading places in each of our strengths through out the event even though we raced solo categories. This year, I've trained more but I've done almost no mountain biking. So my plan was to ride my own race, and let TW ride his. I knew where I'd pass him, and were he'd catch me. I figured we'd finish with comparable times if the courses were anything like the previous years.

The 5 Clevelanders hooked up at 10:00AM on Friday, and we split the group into 2 vehicles. 6 hours later, with a stop at Fat Tyre Cycles in Elkins for tubes and lube, we arrived and unloaded into the cabin. Trainwreck showed how resourceful he was by fabricating a power cable for his CD player from some bike parts and speaker wire, so we had tunes and could start prepping for race day.

We hung a CAMBA banner on the porch, and got almost immediate recognition. Brian and Tiffany Kenny came by and we chatted a bit about trails and the event. They're Cleveland area riders. Brian races expert, and Tiffany rides pro for Ford MTB team. She's raced some of the 'cross races I did last year, and I'm pretty sure she was at one of the Covered Bridge races I did. This is their third year doing the race.

Last year, I rode part of the Prop's Run trail on Friday evening to clear my head and legs from the driving fog. This year, I hadn't planned on it until we arrived... and I started to get the itch. Plus I had a feeling they would take us down Prop's Run during the race. It used to be a premier downhill trail, it was closed the first year, we'd climbed it the second, so it was about due. I suited up, and off I went... with no water, tubes, tools, or a realistic idea of how long the trail was.

I realized how silly I was when I got off the road and onto the trail proper. So my plan to climb to the top, and then descend it changed to only going for about an hour long ride at a moderate pace. I've done hour long cross races without a bottle, and I wasn't going to press this ride. Nothing strenuous, I'd save that for the race. So I started climbing. Prop's Run looks like it was an old rail bed, it has a pretty constant grade. Of course, the trail follows along the bed, but has more terrain than just the constant grade. I climbed 4 miles in about 40 minutes, turned around, and ended up with an hour ride of 8 miles. I felt good, and seemed OK negotiating the technical sections. Of course, I was still not going race pace.

When I got back, Trainwreck and whipped up some excellent Buffalo meat spaghetti for us. So we ate, and started prepping our stuff for the race. I did a superficial bike cleaning, with special attention to make sure the chain was cleaned and lubed well. Slatyfork is wet always, and the weather forecasts called for rain on race day, so the wet lube was in order. Unfortunately, in this process I dropped half my power link in the grass. Fortunately, I had a spare in my collection of "way to much stuff".

The organizers will haul a "care package" up to the 4th check point for the riders. We can put whatever we think we'll need in there, and pick it up when we get to CP4. Lights are a recommendation, but I also pack "way to much stuff" in there. A change of clothes, extra pair of shoes, tire, tubes... and more (a spare cassette, but no tools to install it... only because it was there.). With our bags packed, and our CamelBacks loaded for the race, lights out at 10:00. 5:30AM will still come WAY to early.
Race Day

At 5:25 my alarm goes off, and Brian is out of bed, dress and in the bathroom almost before I could shut the alarm off. He's racing already! We found out that breakfast was not included in the cabin cost (which was also more than we expected). I was about ready to spend the extra cash on breakfast, but everyone else had brought enough to share and get my engine fueled up. So I'm moochin food before the race starts. Breakfast, drop the CP4 bag, and get ready to race by 6:45 for the pre-race meeting.

The temperature is somewhere in the mid 50's with the dew point somewhere in the high 60's I think. It's damp and cold, and the forecast is for rain. I have a base layer, arm and knee warmers and SmartWool socks to start with.Then if it does rain, I'll still be able to stay warm enough. Hopefully, it warms up before it rains.

TW and I are doing the 100+ again, so we get an extra checkpoint and some extra milage. At the meeting, they split the 100+ from the 100 riders, and we see who we're competing against. Chris Scott has won this event 2 of the 3 years we've done it, Brian Kenny is in our field as are some other familiar faces from previous years. The directions are only the road from the lodge to the base of mine road, and from the lodge to the base of Prop's are legal. There is also a little note on bushwhacking across the mountain. It's legal, but be careful, as the some of the terrain may be nasty. We get our maps, a quick check of where we're going and we're off.

CP 1

For some reason, the start this year was a bit off. Normally there is a whistle or something, this year it's more of a "get you're maps, and go." With the strange start, the group hits the road sparsely. CP 1 is up a long gravel road climb on Mine Road to USFS 135, then take the saddle loop trail to the check point.

TW and I hit US 219 and we swap a couple of pulls on the 2 miles of pavement to the base of Mine road. Mine road does about 2000 foot of climbing in about the first 4-6 miles, so I hit a nice spin, and settle in for a long climb. I basically set my heart rate to 160-165, and a nice cadence, and about 40-50 minutes later, I crest and get some relief. The gravel road continues to roll in a general upwards fashion to 135, which continues to roll to the trail head.

On the way up I'm alone in the fog. I catch a glimpse of about 10 riders up ahead of me, and 1 or 2 behind me, for the most part, it's sit and spin. About 2 miles into the climb, I'm passed by Chris Scott and a train of two other guys, I tried to jump on, but I'm not going to do Chris's race and survive. He beat me by about 2-2.5 hours last year. I last about 30 seconds before I realize this and back it off to my own pace. A little later another pair pass me, and when I jump on, the second guy pulls up next to his leader. OK, so no relief here.... then a guy on a single speed passes me... he's flying, but working like a dog. He catches the pair and they chat bit while the leave me behind.

Back alone, I make the turn onto USFS 135, and re-catch the SS rider. He can't spin this part as well because of the rollers, so we chat a bit about the race, while he can keep up, then I leave him on some descents.

For the most part, I have the map folded so I can ride and scope it out as I go. I can pull and store it in my back center pocket and I check it occasionally here to verify the best route. I wanted to get a map folder so I could have it readily available at any time, but didn't move soon enough. At the entry to Saddle Loop I stopped for a second to make sure I've got the right trail. Brian Kenny, the SSer and another guy catch me here, and I follow them onto the single track. Brian said TW was pretty far back... "for now" I think. He'll catch me soon enough.

Saddle Loop trail is marked as "Extremely Difficult, very tight, technical single track, often hike-a-bike, nearly impossible in wet conditions." Fortunately for me, it's mostly uphill, so we're all off the bike in the same, sections and I can mostly keep up through to the CP. I give my name and number, and strip off my arm warmers. Check the map for the way, eat a bite and away we go again.

CP 2

CP 2 is on Bear Pen Trail. I take Boundary Trail (Extremely Difficult) to Bear Pen. TW catches me within about 10 minutes of the checkpoint and I follow him for a while. We passed Brian Kenny taking a natural break, and TW drops me like a rock on the trail as it tips down. Brian and SSer pass me again, and I'm alone to Bear Pen.

At Bear Pen, we have a choice. A moderate trail to USFS 135 which we can take to Gauley Mountain trail (moderate) to CP2, or Bear Pen which is rated Difficult. It's longer, but easier on the gravel road, it looks MUCH longer, so SSer and I choose the trail. Another guy went to the road.

I'm doing OK, but am left alone again pretty quickly. At the intersection of Bear Pen and Tea Creek trail, I stop and check the map again, to make sure I take the correct trail. Tea Creek trail is impossible (we've done that before), so I want to stay AWAY from that. About 6 other riders catch me here, including CAMBA Brian, a concensus is reached and we're away in a 6 person line up the next climb. Turns out we lined up in the correct order, because it was 5, then 4, then I slid out my rear wheel and couldn't get going again.... hike-a-bike, and the other three climbed away. Brian was third, and was a bit surprised when I wasn't behind him anymore.

I caught them a little bit later, while hoofing the bike up another climb. A bit of complaining about my having a 32 cassette instead of a standard 34... my own stupid fault, I should have known that I needed that gear. Then I managed to climb ahead of that group, and into CP2.

At CP 2, I saw Tiffany Kenny just getting ready to pull out... and wondered how she beat me there? She didn't pass me, and yet... She told me TW had just pulled out. So I'm not too far behind him... limit my losses on the trails, and make it up on the fire roads.... Removed my leg warmers, stuffed them into the camel, check the map and I'm away again. CAMBA Brian pulls in as I take off... last I'd see him for a while.

CP 3

The end of Bear Pen is a ridable descent to Gauley Mountain, take a right there to the base of Tea Creek mountain. Tea Creek Mountain is a hike-a-bike climb to a huge rock garden that looks like you're on the moon, then a short descent to a shorter rock garden. Then a 4-5 mile tight descent to the CP. That descent is the main reason TW does this race. I've had a good day on it, and a bad day... I was hoping for good today. Fortunately, it was earlier in the race today, so I was not quite as tired as the other times.

When I get to Gauley Mountain, I see Tiffany turn left on the trail... where is she going? I turned right, for the Gauley Mountain descent (moderate) and look for the connector. I passed a guy with a flat on the way down, he must have been finishing up, cause he caught and passed me shortly afterwards. He stopped at the turn off... and I verified it as I rolled up. Across Gauley Connector, to Right Fork. Nasty Technical trail to the base of Tea Creek Mountain. I caught the flat guy again there, and directed him again. I went first then, and he was fine behind me for a bit. We popped out into a field with no markings. I looked around, and knew to go toward the right, the guy says "Are you sure, or is it a guess?". Third time on this trail didn't steer me wrong, and we found the trail in seconds.

Up Tea Creek Mountain for some crazy hike-a-bike. For some reason, it all seemed shorter this year. I was into the rock garden in no time, and through. I hopped in the bike as soon as we were through, and rode to the next garden. I walked that section, even if it was marginally ridable, because I watched a guy bite it hard there on our first year out. Once through there, I was back on and away for the DH.

The descent felt good, though it was long, my arms and legs had just about enough standing and braking. I started behind the guy I had gone through the rock gardens with, and just tried to ride my own pace. I kept telling myself that my technical skills are not bad, I'm not really slow, I'm just not as fast as the best riders. Stay safe, and get through at my own pace, and I'll pick up places where I can. At the bottom, I caught the guy I crested with and no one passed me... so a personal victory there!

As I came out of the woods into the parking lot at CP3, TW was there pulling out (another victory there). He pointed me to the station, and said "nothing but a F***ing road ride from here." I told him to go, and I'd see him at the top.

12:00, 5 hours of riding to do 31 miles. I stripped off my base layer as the temp must have been close to 70 by now. The sun was out, and I was warm. I checked my camel and it was still more than half full. I had finished my bottle of Accelerade, but still wasn't drinking enough. I'd been eating pretty consistently, but I'd have to concentrate a bit more on that.

Time for a quick lunch. CP3 had sandwiches, bananas, chocolate pudding (NO BANANA PUDDING??!!), and cookies... chocolate covered grahams... ok, it's a reasonable sub for the banana pudding, I guess. I ate and drank quickly, filled my bottle with PowerAid and was back on the trail in about 10 minutes.

CP 4

10 Minutes, TW had a 10 minute head start on the climb up Bannock Shoals This is an old lumber rail bed. It was a constant grade climb for about 3 miles that ended on USFS 135 right where the Saddle Loop Trail from CP 1 is. We then took 135 back to Mine Road, then to Crooked Fork Trail, which was an out and back section on another constant grade descent, with about a mile of moderate single track about half way to the CP.

For this climb, I put my HR at 140. I didn't want to over do it, with lunch, and quite a bit of climbing still left to do. I know I can maintain 140 for a long time normally, but I don't know about after 5 hours in the saddle. I ended up doing about 6-7 mph, and spin away.... again.

On the way up, about 6 or 7 riders pass me coming DOWN. Then I figured out Tiffany's strategy. She did the gravel road between 1 and 2, and beat me into 2 even though she was behind me at 1. Then the left turn had her climb back to 135 and reverse what I was about to do to get to 3. She then could do the same thing I was to get to 4. Interesting strategy, it added miles (lots of them) but they were over easier terrain, like gravel fire roads instead of Difficult or extremely difficult trails.... and I figured (correctly) she was still ahead of me.

All the way up Bannock Shoals... spinning and seeing no one in front of me... or behind me. I hit 135 and still no sign of TW. On 135, the grade is a bit lower, so I can push a bit faster. I'm just starting to get discouraged, when I see TW up ahead. That gave me an extra gear... cause I had made up some serious ground on him. He said it gave him a victory also, cause I didn't catch him until he was off of the Bannock Shoals trail. We rode a little together, but eventually I pushed ahead in my roadie like manner..

Down to Mine Road. As I came down the hill, I almost missed the turn (135 T's into Mine road on a descent). That's when I realized I may have some brake issues going on. I had way to much pull, so the wet must have helped me wear a good deal of pad down. I made the turn and away to Crooked Fork.

Again, I was checking the map while rolling, and had my landmarks picked out. I made the turn, and started pushing down the gravel trail. Every piece of single track left was marked moderate, and there was only about 4 miles of that before I had to descend down Prop's Run to the finish. So I figured, I'd be fine if I could put enough time into TW on the road sections, he'd just be able to catch me on Prop's and we'd finish about the same time.

Then I hit the single track on Crooked Fork... and had to do more hike-a-bike. Some of this was OK, but I think it should be marked as difficult now. TW caught me almost at the end of this section, I stopped for a nature break as he came by. I popped out of the single track section, and there was Tiffany again. She said we had a few miles to go to the CP, so I started my gravel road descent... and caught TW again.

I got into the CP about 2 minutes before he did. Filled my camelback with water, ate another chocolate covered graham or two, and lubed my chain for the push to the finish. I dumped anything I didn't think I'd need for them to carry back to the lodge with my "Bag of way to much stuff". The last thing I did was ask Joey (from Elk River) about the path between 5 and 6 and not using the road. He said it would be an easy win then. "So I have to go back over the mountain on Mine Road?" and he affirmed. Before heading out, I asked about Chris Scott, who'd hit CP 4 at 12:30! It was then a little past 2:00. Some ibuprofin, and I'm headed back out Crooked River Trail.

CP 5

I left TW at the CP, because I had to get through 2 more miles of ST to get to CP 5. Out Crooked Fork to Mine Road, then descend that 4 miles of 2000 ft we climbed at the beginning, to the Power Line trail. 1 mile on on Power Line and I'm there. So I set me HR to 140, and start spinning to the ST section.

Pretty uneventful, except for the hike-a-bike through that same section, and passing a deer skeleton right in the middle of the trail. The skull and spine were still connected, and the pelvis was a bit further down the trail. The bones were still red, so it couldn't have been that old, even though it was picked pretty clean.

Just as I was coming out of the ST section, I saw Marshall, another 100+ rider that has kicked our butts in all three of the previous races we'd done. He was heading down to CP 4, while I was a good way out... so I could beat him today, barring anything bad happening. I also saw CAMBA Brian here again. Spin it up the gravel climb to Mine Road, then hammer the descent. My brakes were getting worse, so I was being a bit tentative on my speed. Still I needed time here, without wrecking. Looking at the map, I found my landmarks, found the trail, and started in.

CP 5 was the extra checkpoint for the 100+, and I saw no one climbing back out. I figured the only way from 5 to 6 was an out and back up Mine Road. Since no one was climbing out, they must have reached Crooked Fork before I got out... that's a huge lead. I wasn't going to be picking up many places now. I just had to work to keep from loosing any.

At Power Line Trail head, there was a sign that said 1 mile to the next trail, so I checked. 60 miles, so I should see the CP at 61 miles. I knew Brian Kenny and another 100+ guy were ahead of me... by a bit less than I was in front of Marshall. CP 5 was the extra checkpoint for the 100+, and I saw no one climbing back out. I figured the only way from 5 to 6 was an out and back up Mine Road So the other two guys must have gotten back up Mine Road and past Crooked Fork before I got off of it... it was possible.

On Friday night, Jesper had told us that these trails for CP5 were "a lot of fun" when he did them in June. This was the first time I'd done any of them, so I was really hoping Jepser was right. There were a couple of steep climbs, that I had to hike, but overall it went well.

At the CP, I asked the guy which trail was the least technical to get me back to the road. My legs were dead, and I couldn't do the cadence changes necessary to power up the steep climbs. It was a mile of trails no matter which of the three ways I could choose from. He pointed and explained the way out, it would make me climb a bit more of Mine Road, but I hoped the steady cadence would be OK. I said I'd either thank him, or cuss him out at the end of the race depending on how it went. I asked how many guys were ahead of me... and found I was 8th into CP5. So, if any 100+ guys passed me, I could figure my placement. Ate a bit quickly, and was off for the last tough section.

CP 6

A short while after I rolled out, I thought I heard someone else coming into the CP. I wasn't far out, but I figured I had the climbing ability to stay away... I hoped.

This was about the easiest place to quit the race, I've ever seen. I hurt, and was pretty tired. It was only a 2 mile road ride back to the lodge, and yet a long climb up to the top of the mountain, then a long descent down Prop's run to the next CP. The easiest path to CP 6 would have been 3 miles of road between 5 and 6. The only legal trails were up Mine Road to the top of the mountain, across a couple of peaks, then down Prop's run. I've never DNFed a race, and I was not about to start now. Besides, I was right where I should be... middle of the pack with the toughest riders I've ever raced against.

Onto Mine road... and again, I could only muster a 140 hr, still not bad after 8.5-9 hours of riding. I was going about 6 mph, dropping to about 3-4 in some of the steeper sections... and it hurt. As I was climbing up to the Powerline, I was trying to figure my placing. Once passed the trailhead, I was suffering like I've never suffered before. I had a good lead on any rider I saw, and Marshal was the first one coming down. So I knew TW had gone into the woods, and would be working his way out and up the climb soon. How many more were between Marshal and I? I had no idea. This was the only part of the course I could tell for sure who I was racing with.

Still spinning, watching the odometer. at 4 or 5 miles, I should get to Crooked Fork trail, and the climbing would decrease... it took forever. I saw 4 100+ riders (I assumed they weren't 100 riders), going down Mine Road. So 5 or 6 riders still behind me... don't let anyone pass me.

Eventually, I got to Crooked Fork... FINALLY. A couple of 100 riders were there trying to figure out their next move, they asked if I was sent back up, trying to ride pavement or something. I explained I was riding 100+ and the extra CP as at the bottom of the hill (assassins!, like Alpe-D'Huez) I didn't stop, just pointed them in my direction, and kept going.

At this point, I felt like total garbage... so I ate 2 cliff bars, a gu and drained my PowerAid bottle, and drank a ton of water. Then I started to feel better, especially with some fire road descents.

I'd been by the upper end of Prop's Run twice. Once the first year when it was closed, and once the second year when we climbed it. I remembered it being in a clearing on the right, and being well marked. I really hoped my memory was valid. The food helped a lot, and I hit a nice rhythm on this part of the road. I started picking up riders looking for the trail... and dropping them. They took my pace to mean I knew what I was looking for, so they followed. One guy asked about something that looked like a possibility, I knew it wasn't, didn't say anything and just kept going. I think he took my hint.

Good thing I had taken the ibuprofin at CP4, my knees were extremely sour. I couldn't imagine what kind of pain I'd have been in without the Advil.

There was the most incredible view from one location on this climb... here is a shot from the spot in the morning, but at 3:30PM, it was also clear and beautiful...

I passed a power line cut down the side of the mountain, and suddenly thought about a bushwhack... of course, I was at the top of the mountain then, and the fastest way down for me was still Prop's Run. But I knew then that TW had bushwhacked a shorter path between 5 and 6. He'd do anything to avoid this kind of road climb again. Every year, he's suggested a trail cross cut, and every year, except the first, I nixed it, with successful results. This year, we were on our own, no one would nix his bushwhack.... nothing I could do, but head down, and keep going.

I'd passed about a dozen riders, one other rider with a 100 series number... which seemed to be how they numbered the 100+ riders. So I may be fighting with him for 7th place. Eventually, I was down to two guys on my wheel. One guy asked me if I knew what I was looking for and I told him... he asked about the descent and I described what I'd done and climbed since I'd been here, nothing super technical, but it was long... A short while later, we came around and there it was... the entrance to Prop's.

I'd done 4 miles, but really didn't know how long Prop's was. All I knew was I had to limit my losses, as some guys could smoke this, and I could only go fast. Plus my brake situation was still a bit scary. So I didn't stop at the top, but just hit it.

AND IT IS VERY LONG. I'd guess it's at least an 8 mile descent.. I know I was on it for almost an hour. I started strong, but that didn't last nearly long enough. Standing on the pedals, and trying to power through the smoother sections lasted about 10-15 minutes, then my back, arms and legs started to kill me.... but I couldn't sit on the saddle... not only was the trail to bouncy, but the hours had taken their toll, and I felt like I had instant saddle sours... and it burned.

... but what could I do. I couldn't stop and bail here, the only thing left was negotiate this descent, and then do a short pavement ride into the finish. Grit my teeth, and suffer some more. I hope my brake pads last, as I've got to use them to adjust my speed on this descent. I'm sure I was slowing down considerably as the run continued. Eventually, 4 or 5 guys passed me, including the one 100 series rider. And they went by like I was on a tricycle. One came up so fast, he surprised me into a fall... in the damn stinging nettles.

Eventually, I got to some stuff I recognized.... ok 20 minutes or so to go... then another guy catches me right before the bridge. He passes me, and I look back, no one else for a while. First creek crossing, and he's looking to stay dry... it's almost 'cross season. Hoist the bike, and through I go. We meet another guy coming the other way, looking for the CP. He says, it's supposed to be by the river... I should have sent him up the trail... instead, I said "There are two rivers, it's past the next one." We cross the next one, and they get ahead of me. I pop out into the lot give my name and number, and track stand long enough to get the OK.... almost home.

CP 7 (The Finish)

The road climb takes you out through a lumber yard road, back to route 219. Then 1 mile on 219 back to the lodge. The 2 guys I took through the creek crossings left me for dead... because I was, and there was no way I was sprinting with them for place since I didn't expect them to be in my class anyway. At 219, I could look back down the road, and saw no one. So I relaxed. No one to worry about. Marshal and TW were still behind me so I should have 8th place locked up... nothing else to do now but get in. Whatever place I got, was what I got.

I rolled into the drive, and cut behind the lodge, to the final check in. As I came by the food tent, I heard "Yuengerlinger, All right, Nice job". And I about fell off my bike! Only TW calls me that, and he was under the tent, showered, changed, eating and having a brew with Brian and Tiffany Kenny and the other 100+ guy! WTF! How did he beat me by THAT much?

I checked in for the finish and went right over to the table to get the story. Turns out he asked the guy at CP5 the right question, using the correct magic words, and was told about a bushwhack that beat everyone (including Chris Scott this year). TW effectively followed the second creek we crossed at the bottom of Prop's that runs parallel to the road from CP5 to CP6. So while I was riding 17 miles over the mountain, he bushwhacked and walked 3 through the Elk River. Not an easy Bushwhack, but I beat him into CP5 by about 5 minutes, and he beat me by 1 hour and 3 minutes at the end and helped another guy that followed him beat me also.
The final

Well, I called it at the top of the mountain, but I forgot by the time I got to the finish. I guess about half the riders were told about the creek, if they asked the right question. Chris Scott was into CP5 first, went over the mountain, and came in fourth place in the 100+ category in 8.5 hours... incredible time, but he probably did the same ride that Tiffany did, using USFS 135 to move between checkpoints very quickly. Tiffany won the womens solo 100 with a time of about 8.5 hours, and probably rode about 90 miles total.

TW came in 10th place, in 9.5 hours. Very nicely done, and after calming down a bit (and he did clean my bike for me) I offered to buy him a drink. I ended up in 11th place, 79.24 miles in 10:33. I haven't seen the cp results yet, but my guess is there was a guy in front of TW and behind me, that I heard get to CP5. Then TW and his buddy came through while I was climbing back up to Powerline trailhead. Those three took the creek. Marshall climbed over the mountain, like I did, and I beat him by another hour. He was livid that the bushwhack was allowed and even said it was against the spirit of the race. I think it may have been fairer if they had put a checkpoint about half way or more up Prop's. Then the difference between a ride over the mountain and a bushwhacked would not have been so lopsided.

There were 2 100+ DNFs, so that accounts for 14 of the 15 that were announced at the beginning. So either there were only 14 100+ riders, or another guy came in behind us that I didn't learn about. The other 3 riders I saw were either DNFs or 100 riders looking for a creek bushwhack.

Jen and Jesper finished strong with a nice bushwhack down 1000 feet to the creek between CP 4 and our 6. Jen got 4th place in Women solo, and Jesper got 3 in first timers. 64 miles in about 11 hours. Here is a GPS trace of their route over the mountain. (That looks like a nice toy for the bike...) Jen's report is at the CAMBA website.

CAMBA Brian took a wrong turn looking for tea creek mountain (exactly like Jen and Jesper only MUCH longer), and got the prize for the longest trek of our cabin, at 83 miles, in 11.5 hours. A very good time considering his milage.

Mike had the bad luck day. 74 miles was about the normal 100 riders distance without a bushwhack. Mike tore up his arm a bit and came in with it taped. He had a flat about 3 miles from the finish that he had trouble fixing. He eventually got it and finished in 12.5 hours. Still a very respectable first effort. It beat my first time at 12.5 for 64 miles, and that was a boat load of help from my friends.

In hind sight... I should have followed Tiffany out Gauley Mountain Trail. Play the game to my strengths, but I didn't think about that until it was to late to do it. I'm still happy with my race. The bushwhack thing is still pretty disappointing. I'm not sure if it's because I didn't think of it, because of how people found out about it by asking the right person the right question, or because I lost three places because I went the hard way around. Oh well, that's the way it goes. Another hard lesson learned in Slatyfork, WV.