I’ve been training up since June to do another 100 mile mountain bike race this summer. I caught the distance bug after having an awesome time at the Boggs 8hour race and decided I was excited to go long again. Ethan and I were hoping to take time off work to do a 100 miler in Montana, but my full time work schedule at the bike shop and the demands of Ethan’s new job filled up the calendar quick. After some deliberation and web searching, we decided the High Cascades 100 in Bend, OR looked like the perfect event. In preparation, we headed out on some epic road and mountain bike rides and squeezed in as many miles as possible.
On a whim, we decided to race the Tahoe Sierra 60 mile race the weekend before the race as a “training race” to get in some last minute miles. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! I signed up the week before and we rushed to figure out the logistics of how we would get from where we were staying to the race start and to prep our bodies and bikes. We anxiously waited on Friday to hear if the fire in Auburn would impact the race (fortunately it did not) and then caravaned up to Tahoe with Brad Foster to spend the night in Truckee. We woke up way to early on Sat morning (4am?!) and headed to the parking lot near Soda Springs to kit up and await the start. Jim (the race director) informed us that all riders would be starting together instead of the 100 milers first due to the fire. Before I knew it we were headed up a slight road climb in a pack of about 120 riders in the early light of dawn. The first fire-road descent was dusty and treacherous. It was very rocky and rough and I was swallowing the dust of riders around me and struggling to see. I passed a female rider on the side of the trail with a flat, and not more than a half mile later, I felt my front tire lose all of its air. I changed the tire pretty quickly, but took pity on a male rider with a flat right next me who did not have a tube, and gave him my remaining spare. There was then a long steady fireroad climb to the first aid station, where I refilled my bottles and pack and snacked on some fig newtons. The female rider who had flatted left the aid station ahead of me and about 20 mins later, I passed her on a rocky descent as she changed another flat, bummer!
Soonafter the route changed into some fun and technical singletrack trails and I tried to keep pace with a group of male riders. We flew by some amazing vistas and views and I was feeling strong on the climbs. Around mile 35 I felt my rear tire go flat and panicked for a moment when I realized I’d already used/given away my spares. Fortunately a friendly rider took pity on me and tossed me a tube. A few minutes later and I was back on the trail with 30 miles to go and nothing left to change flats with. I rode hard, but tentatively on the next few gnarly and rocky descents. As we rode closer towards Foresthill, the Western States trail became more steep and the temperatures rose. My bike was mis-shifiting on the climbs and I couldn’t get it to stay in the easiest gears. The first hike-a-bike section was long and brutal. Sweat was dripping down my face. I unzipped my jersey all the way. My feet ached. The hill seemed impossibly long. I put in my headphones and kept slowly hiking. I passed riders who were sleeping, cramping, puking, laughing hysterically, and who had pretty much given up. After 50 minutes of grueling hiking, the trail began to level out and it felt amazing to pedal again. Before I knew it we were shooting down another steep canyon to the bottom of the creek bed, followed by ANOTHER 30 minute hike-a-bike. I was hating life, but trudging forwards.
The rest stop at Michigan Bluff was an oasis. Maureen was there and she cheerfully hugged me and fed me a bottle. The aid station volunteers lubed my chain, filled my Camelbak, and fed me real food. Mo told me I was the second female rider to pass through. I was surprised, and inspired to finish the last 8 miles. I hopped on the wheel of a strong rider doing the 100 mile course up a dirt road climb. Soon-after I felt my left quad start to cramp from the exertion, and mellowed out my pace again. My shifting was popping and I was anxious to finish. My bike computer read 58 miles and I began to rejoice. Almost finished. A came up on a rider on a gradual climb and cheerfully exclaimed “almost there!” He laughed and replied, “yeah, six more miles” and explained that the course was actually 64 miles. Ouch. The last few miles were a delirious blur. As I finally rolled across the finish in Foresthill at 8hrs, 35 minutes, I was hot, dusty, and ready to be done.
I toweled myself off in Lowell’s truck and we all drove to Auburn for the finish of the 100 mile race. Ethan, Brad and I traded stories about our epic races. Ethan raced very strong on his singlespeed and was leading his category for most the race, and top 3 overall. He cracked hard on the hike-a-bike section and stopped for a few minutes to recover. He lost a few places and was tragically passed by the Singlespeed category winner less than a mile from the finish. He was still 5th overall and 2nd in his category with an impressive time of 7:12. I ended up 2nd overall for women, finishing about 40 mins behind badass Anna Fortner and 70 minutes ahead of the 3rd place female rider who I battled with at the race start. And 28th overall out of 75 riders. Surprisingly well for how much I felt like I was suffering.
Check out Brad’s strava profile of the ride- http://www.strava.com/rides/ca-13412958?sref=1MT1yaWRlX3NoYXJlOzI9ZmFjZWJvb2s7ND02OTc4NDk%3D