Written by Warren Gerow Thursday, 29 September 2016 00:00
In the past I have always had a reason not to attend the Hampshire 100. Schedule conflicts and excuses were absent this year, and for the 10th and final edition of the race I was finally giving it a go. I didn't put a lot of time into scoping out the course. Seems it has changed every year for the past 3 or 4 years, and this year would be no exception. On paper there seemed to be a fair bit of climbing, but I knew there weren't any large soul crushing climbs, which would be good for me.
The race got underway with the 100 miler folks starting out a few minutes early. I was racing the 100 km distance. We would be completing 2 laps of 30ish miles each. Laps started with a few miles of roads, which is always nice. It didn't take long on the road before we were completely mixed in with the 100 miler folks. After this point the only way to tell what race folks were in was race plate color.
The lap is essentially broken in to three sections, with aid stations every 10 miles. The first 10 miles was pretty quick, with the fist aid at Crotched Mountain Ski area. Leaving the ski area required an obligatory slog straight up a section of ski slope; that was going to be really fun on lap 2. The lap didn't get really interesting until the last 12 miles, which was old-school, punchy demanding 1-track. I had been riding with 3 or 4 other guys, 100 milers, through most of this, until I crashed off a bridge; no race ending damage luckily. I quickly re-grouped, and was able to jump back on with one of those guys for the road section starting lap 2. Apparently the group had come apart.
The first 20 miles of lap 2 were fairly uneventful, but fatigue was setting in. I did not know how many 100K riders were ahead of me, but I was guessing I was top 10, or so I hoped. There was a strong, young 100K rider that had been yo-yoing all race long, and I hadn't seen him in a while; my only plan for him was hoping he would eventually crack! My biggest concern was the last 12 miles of single-track, and of course my crank issues that were surfacing as usual. I ended up getting past a couple additional 100K folks, and caught up with a 100 mile racer from Colorado. He had suffered some bad luck, but was back on track. The singletrack was pounding us, but we were slowly gaining on a rider up ahead. Somehow Colorado knew the rider ahead was a 100K racer. I wasn't sure how much I had in the tank to overtake this guy, but when I eventually made the move he didn't even flinch. This was a few miles from the end, which felt more like 10 miles, but I eventually made it to the finish line.
I thought the race course was really good. Demanding but fair. It had the proper amount of suffering for a 100K race. My time was good enough to take first place in the Expert category, and surprisingly my time was good enough for 4th place overall on the day. Many thanks to all the folks that pull this event together; it is clearly a huge community effort. As always, thanks to Bikeman and all our great sponsors for keeping us going through the race season.
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