Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Shenandoah 100 recap
Down to the mountains of Virginia this weekend with the guys from Darkhorse for the Shenandoah 100 with zero thoughts of doing anything but finishing. Somehow the mountain gods were on my side and I ended up with so much more. The bane of my existence (the blazing sun) was completely absent this day and the temps were cool. So cool some were wearing arm and leg warmers at the start. Perfect Monte weather.
My plan was to ride this "race" at my training pace and hope for a sub 9 hour performance. I finished in 8 hours 2 minutes (16th overall and fastest singlespeeder) not bad for a off season race that I did like zero training for, not to mention the fact that I haven't finished a race in about 2 months so my confidence was at a all time low.
We were up at 4:30 and before the sun was up I was sitting in line with about 500 riders waiting for the start. Due to the dusty conditions the promoters decided to pace us out with a moto onto a flat straight road about 1/2 mile away.
Neutral start is over and I'm somewhere mid pack trying to do as little as possible taking advantage of the enormous draft from 500 riders (at this point I lost a little respect for TDF riders). At the prerace meeting the promoter announced there would be a prime at the 10 mile marker for the first singlespeeder and I knew If I was to have any chance of doing well I was not going to challenge for it.
The first 31 miles to aid station 2 went without a hitch, Just riding my race not allowing myself to get caught up in any craziness that accompanies most races in the first hour or two. Passing a few riders, some passing me back, most I would see again soon, some with punctured tires. Just settling in nicely.
Between aid station 2 and 3 I started to have trouble with my legs (some slight cramping) but I was able to stretch on the downhills and thank god they had endurolites at station 3. I would later take them at every aid station.
3 to 4 fairly uneventful, Just trying to stay hydrated and fueled for the big climbs ahead. Cramps seem to have subsided but still give me a little twinge every once in a while as if just to say hello.
Aid station 5 is about 3/4 up the top of a 25 mile climb with the last 4 miles before the station being the steepest, something like 15% I've heard. Rolling out of 4 I hooked up with a gearie who pulled me to the base of the climb. This would turn out to be the winning move. On the false flat before the climb (with me sucking major wheel) I would come across who at the time was in first place Gunnar Shogren (Cannondale). We went by so fast he barely gave a effort to jump on. I didn't know at the moment but I was now first single speed and about 35th overall. The climb continues after aid station 5 for what seems like forever (this is where I started to respect TDF riders again) and the downhill to aid station 6 is hardly worth all the up you just went through but looking at the profile it seems to get easier from here. Everything seems easier now.
At aid station 6 Laura Winbury was volunteering and informed me I was about 20th overall and 1st single gear weirdo to come through. Something clicked and at this point I put my race face on and managed to cover the final 12 miles in about 43 minutes to finish this debacle.
Getting ready to pop the champagne.
Exhausted from the effort I cleaned up and waited for my teammates and new friends to roll in. Plopping my tired ass near the finish line, eating many cheeseburgers and just taking in the scene I may have even shed a tear or two.... Maybe
Thanks to all the guys at Darkhorse cycles racing for making this a super fun weekend, one I will surely remember for a lifetime. You guys put the fun in racing and that's what this dopey singlespeeder needs.
Next up: who knows, who cares. How can you top this?