Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wilderness 101 Race Report

Ok, since I think these are boring things to write and read (unless you won the damn thing), I'm gonna try and keep it short and sweet.

Overall I'm really disappointed in my race. I did some dumb things in the final 48 hours that completely destroyed the expectations I had. Basically, I didn't sleep well for the final two nights before the race, spent the day before the race out in the sun and heat sweating and dehydrating myself, then slept on the ground in a tent sweating all night-further diminishing any hydration I had feebly tried to replenish that afternoon. While I'm still a rookie to mountain bike racing, I'm not a rookie to endurance racing. I should have known better and have no one to blame but myself.

Race morning I woke up feeling like absolute dog crap. If I had had a training ride planned for that day instead of a race I would have cancelled it. I knew at that point it was going to be a long day. After a quick breakfast of a Cliff Bar and Banana, I warmed up and headed to the start.

The first 60 miles was good. I stuck with the second group and worked with the other riders to keep out speeds high. So much of the race was on gravel roads and double track it allowed us to really keep things moving. I was feeling good and thinking that maybe the day would be salvaged.

Everyone had said prior to the start that the race really doesn't start until the last 41 miles. Very true. There is some gnarly climbing and some rocky singletrack that makes things hard when your legs are already burning from the extended gravel road climbs. Nevertheless, I was still feeling good. UNTIL... the cramps started. The dehydration I had been managing to fend off was now coming back to bite me in the ass (actually more like the inner thighs and quads). From this point on, it was all damage control. Any power to the pedals would result in my legs locking up and me having to dismount the bike and walk to get them uncramped. Very demoralizing and VERY frustrating. The pattern was as follows: Ride, pain, dismount, walk, try to ride, curse, repeat. I seriously must have walked at least 25 percent of the final 40 miles.

Finally, to add insult to injury, I got lost with about 2 miles left in the race. I missed an arrow and climbed up another gravel road for about 15 minutes before realizing I had gone wrong. Awesome. I descended the climb, limped it in to the finish, and got off the bike. Finished around 8 hours and 30ish minutes. Disappointment. Disappointment. Disappointment.

Ok, now I know I sound all negative and whatnot, but I AM terribly upset with myself for taking such a casual attitude into this race. Maybe I was a bit overconfident, or even cocky, and it taught me a very valuable lesson. When I go on these race trips I try to treat it like a business trip. Be professional and race like you mean it. Well, I did neither, and this is what happened. There will be other races, and I'm certain this type of thing ain't happening again.

So now I'm moving onward. I'm considering not racing the Shenendoah Mountain 100 (another NUE series race), and instead doing a couple 50 milers and a 4 hour race. After that I might hunt around for some more fall season mountain bike races, or just focus on cyclocross. The only thing holding me from coming straight out and saying I WON'T do the SM 100 is that I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from Wilderness 101. I might wanna take another stab at the 100 mile game before the end of the season. I'll make up my mind soon.

The next couple days will be dedicated to getting some rest and figuring out what and where I wanna race next month. Something tells me that no matter what races I choose, I'll have a much better appreciation for pre-race preparation.

That is all. :)


  1. Damn man, sucks. Electrolytes?

  2. Yeah, my girlfriend is sponsored by Infinit so I've been using that for about a year now with no problem. They have everything built into one (electrolytes, cals, carbs, protein) and I've never had any cramping issues regardless of the heat and humidity.
    I really just blame myself for making some dumbass decisions so close to the race. I really wanted to be competitive at this race, but definitely didn't act like it beforehand. It's a hard lesson to learn, but a good one in the end:).
    How are the ribs???