Written by Jason Mahokey Saturday, 30 July 2005 00:00
At 7:00 a.m. the huge pack rolled out of Coburn Park and headed towards the mountains. After a brief roll on pavement we took a left on a forest road and the first of countless long climbs of the day. The group immediately started breaking apart. I found a nice climbing pace and settled in for the long day in the saddle.
The first 20 miles or so were all gravel forest roads. The descents were pretty sketchy due to a lot of fresh gravel and you had to be extra cautious not to get caught in the deep gravel or you would end up with some serious trail burn on your face and some rocks to shave around Sunday morning.
There were aid stations spread out about every 25 miles so racers didn't have to make like Sherpas and they were just awesome. Soon as you pulled up they would offer bottles, Hammer Gels, PB&J sandwiches, Fig Newtons , Red Bulls and more. If you needed your pack filled up they would do it for you and even help you get it back on. Mucho thanks those volunteers.
The first 60 to 70 miles went pretty well. The climbs were like NOTHING I've ever done before! Several miles up, then up some more oh wait just a little more UP!! A lot of time was spent climbing on my own too, with nothing but lines from the movie Anchorman going through my head. "It's so HOT!...Milk was a bad choice."
I was feeling good, I just couldn't seem to make time. I started to see my goal of finishing in under 9 hours go away and now hoped for under 10. That was a mental blow, but I pedaled on.
Around mile 80 I missed a right turn sign and did 1 extra mile (not happy about that) then around mile 90 it mentally got even harder. Every rock seemed to draw me to it and want to take some blood, every climb started to have just one more switch back and then to top it all I was riding with Bob Anderson, the solo winner at Lodi Farm where I raced earlier this year, when he moved up a about 20 bike lengths, and hooked up with a single speeder. Then they both stopped, looked a me, pointed down and motioned me left. Why? I thought SNAKE!!!!!!! Not just SNAKE!!!! RATTLE SNAKE!!!!! In full on P.O.ed mode, rattle going, hissing etc. I nearly fainted and truly think I would have it weren't for the sheer desire to make it to the finish under 10 miles away. I'm not very fond of snakes and was very greatful for the "heads up."
In the last 4 miles we encountered one more section of single track, a hike-a-bike, two "dark-as-night-can't-see-anything-fall-on-your-face" tunnels and of course ONE MORE CLIMB! I swear I could hear the race promoter laughing in my head as I stumbled over the rocks, but I'm almost there...
Finally I made it to the short road section leading me back in to Coburn Park. It was the best! I could smell the burgers and almost taste the beer. I crossed the finish line, did a T. Rex and banged the gong (you finish, you bang a gong), grabbed my free commemorative pint glass and laid down in the grass for a rest before hitting the showers.
I finished in 9 hours 48 minutes. In 42nd place out of 162 starters in the Male Open Class. Overall not real happy with my finish, but considering it was my first 101, and there were still roughly 120 racer in my class behind me, I guess it's not too shabby. I definitely plan going back in '06, upping my pace and improving my time.
When I went to bed Saturday night around 11, there were 6 racers STILL out on the course making their way back to Coburn with lights.
And just for the record. Chris Eatough from Trek/Volkswagon won with a time of just under 7 hours. Freak. And Tiffany Mann from Independent Fabrications won on a single speed with a time of 9:14. Freakness.
Overall a very fun race with some of the best racers in the world. I can't say enough about how well it's organized and how well they treat all the racers. For more info and results check out the Wilderness 101 web site at Shenandoah Mountain Touring. For anyone heading down to the Single Speed Worlds... Bring your climbing legs, enjoy the fabulous riding in the State College area, and WATCH FOR SNAKES!
Images by: Shenandoah Mountain Touring and Gerard Arantowicz
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