Thursday, September 9

Shenandaoh Mountain 100 '21: Part Three

It's a long slog from Aid Four to Five. The Death Climb is less death and more slow torture, but I guess "Slow Torture Climb" doesn't have the same ring to it.  I'm staring at my Wahoo map looking for that hard turn to the right and when I get to one, I don't see arrows.  The 100k course saw some sabotage, so I'm not taking any chances.  I head up the road a bit, don't see any course verification arrows or tape, come back down and wait for the next rider to come along.  He verifies that we aren't there yet, and I think mebbe now I'd have company, but on the next pitch up, he's off the back.  

Finally, I get to the the correct turn and settle in.  I catch a few riders as we ride up into the mist, and finally roll into Aid Five where I'm greeted with pizza and beer and a banjo-wielding Kent.

It's all I've been thinking about the entire day...well that and not falling off the side of the mountain or quitting or Creed or how many gears I have left or what the fox actually does say.  I knew if I got to here, the rest would be "easy."  Just climb the politically incorrectly named "Killing Fields" (really, we need to do something about that), down Chestnut (without dying), up Hanky Mountain (again) and down the final couple descents that I know are in my wheelhouse.

All those things up to Hanky sucked in the way that I thought they would. I Eagle up the... "Killing Fields" (I hate even typing that), I baby my way down a moist Chestnut (I enjoyed typing that), and I'm delighted to roll into the final Aid Station and see so many familiar faces.  I'd been living off Coke and Pringles, and since I'd already peed three times, I'd pretty much given up on drinking outta my bottles since... let's see.  I poured out half of one when I picked up my last two bottles at Aid Four and I still had a full bottle left thirty one miles later? Derp.

Up Hanky at a snail's pace thinking about how this is the LAST time I'll even be doing this hundred mile thing here ever.  Soak it in.  I don't know what time it is, and I don't care. I'm going to finish, and nothing else matters.  Hit that final descent, and it's one of the least biscuit-risking downhills of the entire day.  I'm feeling good, and I'm catching up to riders that I'd seen earlier in the day... and I'm pretty sure that some of them are in the 50+ class.  

But then I hit that hard left turn onto the double track, see some people there out of the corner of my eye, and I'm pretty sure I heard someone yell "beer."

I could not hit my brakes any harder.

Despite catching up to some people that I'm pretty sure are in my class and despite riding a shifty/squishy bike today, I'm a single speeder at heart. I can't ignore the fact that some fine citizens took the effort to schlep some beer all the way into the woods, and I'm very aware of the shared delight.  

Three chugs, two colossal burps, and back at the chase.

I catch the group on the double track descent in short order, but I can't get around the guy at the back.  I remember one more pitch up before the ride down into camp, and when I get to it, I bury myself like a dumbass.  

"On your left.  On your left.  On your right..."

I make five passes on the way up, slam around the right into camp, weave my way down the hill, cross the line, dismount, start limping away to be alone so I can have a good cry.  I finished in 10:25... which beat my 2006 time on a fixed gear by two minutes (albeit a slightly shorter course back then), but still my second slowest time ever.  That was a very uncomfortable day, and while I'm super bummed to have done so poorly, I'm equally elated.

I just got into a good cry tho before my frand Chris walks over and then there's no more time for crying and it's just time to hang out and tell war stories and drink beer and be happy.

Not the way I expected my final SM100 to go, but at the very least, still something I can be proud of... eventually.  Walking the fine line between "respecting my body" and not being a quitter has been very difficult lately, and I'm ready to have fun playing bikes again very soon.  After all the shit I've been dealing with and the desire to just chuck mountain biking off the roof of a parking deck and take up pickle ball, it's nice to have a non-win in the win column.  I remind myself, doing things like this is a privilege, and I'm fortunate to be able to do them.  So mebbe not this hundie ever again, but I'm not saying I wouldn't consider a new adventure.

Speaking of...

A week long road trip with Bill Nye begins Sunday to include West Virginia bike rides and World Cup spectating and frands and limping up the side of more mountains with a backpack full of beer and whatever comes my way.

Commence the Van from Man-Tuk't Tour '21.


Anon said...

Well, it is a faster time than I would ever be capable of achieving in a perfectly healthy state, so there's that...not that the capabilities of random folks on the internet are of much consolation, but it's certainly true.

Paul Shin said...

Nice race report. Will you be doing a review of the Epic Evo? After 12 years of rigid only riding, my wrists are showing signs of wear. ie arthritis.

dicky said...

I'd say I'll write something eventually. I didn't get much riding on it due to injury, and I'm gonna be spending some time on my new Radimus as well, so it might be some time before I get around to it.