Shenandoah mountain 100 adventure
Landed in Charlottesville (like I said in part one day one) rented a car one way which happened to be a shiny white ford focus. Not such a bad car, smooth and pretty gas efficient pulled my bike out of the cardboard bike box to fit in the car and drove off into VA. For those of you that know me, you’ll know I didn’t have directions to the race course and won’t spend money for one of them thar smart phones to tell me how either, but it was early in the day and I had an idea as to what direction the course was in and asked people if I was getting warm along the way. After about 2 1/2 hrs of “exploring” I found where I was suppose to drop off the car the next day and where the race course campground was. At the trail head (not the race course trail head) I built up my bike and did a little leg spinning. After a about a dozen creek crossings I was happily finished with my messy spin.
I dropped the car off, changed up in the airport restroom and headed back towards the hotel. Now I was a little worried about how the locals treated cyclists, there wasn’t a big shoulder and I’ve been hit before so that’s always a thought. I was pleasantly surprised when everyone that drove passed was really friendly and gave me plenty of room. Every time anyone would pass and give me room I would nicely wave to say thanks. It got to the point where I started to feel like a celebrity or maybe a beauty queen I had my hand up waving so much. I got to the bike shop got permission to crash there while waiting for a ride over to the six pack downhill and headed back to my motel. I packed up all my crap which for some reason weighed a ton now and rode over. I met some one to take my bags over to the trail head and I rode over to the food lion grocery store meeting spot where I grabbed some beer and caught a ride myself to the trail head.
Saturday was the day before the race and I was pretty tired from all the travel and it seemed like so was everyone else so I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible. I slept in as late as possible and ate as much as humanly possible. After doing that I took about a 2 hr nap. I was really tired. Woke up and did some last min maintenance on my bike changed out my old tires for some new wtb vulpines and did a light spin with the guys I was staying with. The day was just about done when we got back. I ate showered and went back to bed for an early morning start.
Sunday morning up at 4am ish, we ate a breakfast of eggs and toast. got my camelback filled and nutrition ready, I was so glad that I wasn’t in a tent like so many people around us. It had been raining off and on and it looked pretty unmotivating the day before out in the rain. Luckily the start of the race was dry, we went off at six and the long day was under way. I started off as close to the leaders as possible without pushing to hard. I knew right off the bat that I wasn’t going to be able to go hard and that I was just going to have to pace myself. My legs were a bit tired but I kind of knew that was going to be the case. I had to let the leaders go and I was happy that I had my SRM power meter because it allowed me to pace myself without blowing up early on. It was my first 100 miler and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I rode with a small group of guys up till about 50 miles when we hit a long fast decent and I managed to get ahead of them. I opened up a gap and kept telling myself to not look back and just ride my own race. It had started pouring around mile 40 and it got a bit slick on the roots and rocks, I was wishing I had just a little more tread and air volume while bombing down some of these ripping descents. I wasn’t going to let anyone catch me and so I let it all hang out on the downs. Maybe a little too much, I ended up head butting a tree and going over the bar into a pile of boulders, I was able to jump up bend my brake lever back and continue on. There is an 18 mile climb that starts about 3/4 of the way through and towards the beginning I happened to look down and over and I could see there were a group of racers closing the gap. I had some gu and a couple big gulps of water and started pouring it on, I didn’t want to get caught. I kept reassuring myself I could maintain this pace and I hammered on. I was only slowed down a bit by not being able to get into the big ring because of all the mud, this had been the case shortly after about mile 60 or so. At one point it was faster to stop put the chain on the big ring by hand and continue. I finally hit the end decent and was relieved no one had caught me, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining, I came through the finish in 7th place at 7 hrs and 54min. I’m pretty pleased with such a strong result for my first 100 miler, and plan to do more and know how to prepare a bit better. http://www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/249703-Shenandoah-Mountain-100/video/654840-Brian-Astell-Known-to-be-pretty-quick