Written by Warren Gerow Wednesday, 07 June 2017 00:00
Everyone who raced WW100 last year was hoping for one thing this year: better weather. Last year it poured the entire race. I was also hoping to put down a time that would get me into the Silver Corral at Leadville in August.
In keeping with the Leadville flavor, WW100 is primarily dirt roads, with some double-track and 1-track. Oh, and there is lots of climbing, especially after the turnaround. If you go too deep on the way out, you can take an extended ride on the struggle bus on the way to the finish.
The first five miles are a high-speed down-hill roll out on pavement, which can be especially scary with several hundred mountain bikers. This year was extra scary with lots of tires rubbing, brakes locking up, and the smell of burning rubber. Things calmed slightly with the first climb up Bartlett, which ends around mile 8. Watching my heart rate I did not go with the first group over the climb as I was afraid of the intensity. I was with a few other riders for the descent and along the 9N pavement into Styles Brook climb. The lead group was just ahead, it was huge, at least 30 riders. Again, closing the gap to them didn't seem like a smart move, and I just stayed put tapping out my own pace. Styles is very steep, and like always it shattered some riders. At the top there was a group of 6-8 riders that I should have gapped up to in hindsight, but it wasn't a game changer.
After Styles there is some flatter terrain before the climb up and over Jay Mountain. Descending Jay some guys caught up to me, which was great for working together out to the turnaround. At the turn there is a couple miles of grindy 1-track, which I was able to get into first, and rode away from the crew. I knew I would see them again.
At the turn I grabbed a small hydration pack and fresh bottle from Carol; she is always at the aids when and where I need her. From the turn to the top of Jay Mountain it is basically all up hill. The first half there are some walls that will test you, mixed with gradual grades where you can work with others. I was with a few guys to share the work, and picked up a riding buddy Mike Morse along the way. The final ascent is about 4 miles of steady climbing with a varying surface and lots of upward kicks to get your attention. At least it wasn't a full on stream this year. I started up the climb just trying to keep things steady. Morse said we started with 8-10 guys, we were 4 at the top.
Descending from Jay to the Styles aid station nobody seemed to come with me. I knew this would be a problem going across the meadows above Styles and later on along 9N heading to Lacy, especially with the wind that had kicked up. After a couple of miles pedaling solo into the wind I saw two guys coming from behind. I sat up and waited for them to join. They seemed to have legs left, which was encouraging.
I knew the Lacy climb followed by the Bartlett return can inflict some pain. We started up the climb, and almost immediately I felt a twinge of cramps. I backed off a hair and consumed some more. I asked one of the other riders how he was feeling. He said something about water; he had one bottle on-board, and it was clearly empty. Less than half a mile ahead was an aid station. Both riders stopped and I pushed on.
I grabbed a rider near the top of Bartlett climb, and another on the pavement heading to Hardy Road, you don't want to be alone along this section of road. On Hardy I caught local Maine kid Jake Inger. I was wondering when and if I would see him. His 20 year old legs still seemed good, which was promising as there were road miles heading into the finish at Whiteface. I hit the Hardy Rd 1-track first and then Inger and I hit the pavement back to the resort, working with one other guy.
Once at the resort there is still some work to be done with some grindy up-hill efforts and a sketchy section of rooty singletrack, but it went well. I rolled over the line in 4:31. I needed sub 4:45 to make the silver corral. I was psyched to make silver, and to set a PR by 21 minutes. It was a great day on the bike. My Kona Hei Hei performed perfectly over the day. Many thanks to Team Bikeman, Kona, Stages Cycling, Schwalbe and all our supporting sponsors, and the guys in the shop for keeping things rolling this year. Looking forward to the next challenge on the calendar!
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