Just 99 miles to go

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

SM100- The Movie.

My over dramatized version of it anyways.

If you don't wanna read about a DNF at 75 miles just click the back button on the browswer right now....Ok I warned ya.

I held off writing this until I felt a little bit better about the race.Nobody wants a whiny race report.

I arrived at Stokesville about 1 on Saturday afternoon. I was earlier than I had to be, a little concerned that the place would be packed with spectators and gawkers who wanted to see Floyd. My fears were put to rest. Although the sites were filling up I found a decent site far enough away to make my introverted self happy, but still just a 3 minute walk to the main pavillion. I set my camp up, sat down in my lawn chair and just chilled. All of the pressure worrying about the race just seemed to suddenly fade. I was here, nothing I can do about anything now.
Went for a short ride and ran into my fellow worrier,Jim. I'm pretty sure he had the same attitude about this race as me. Registered when I got back, filled up my drop bags than got some spaghetti dinner. Back to my camp by 8:30.Last minute checks on the bike, make sure the camelback was ready to go and in bed by 10:15. And no, between the excitement and staying in a tent, I didn't sleep worth poop.

I'd set my alarm for 5:30. I woke up without it at 4:45, layed in the sack until the "gong" started going off at 5:00. So much for sleeping in. Piddled around till 6:20 than headed over for the 6:30 start. It was kinda cool and I didn't wanna take my jacket off and stand in a cold field waiting for the start longer than I had to. At 6:30 on the nose we're off.

Start to AS1

A little advice. Be nice to those people who you seemed to be grouped with those first 5 or 6 miles because if your at my level of fitness, you'll be spending all day with them. I was with the same set of 10 people or so for atleast the next 5 hours. I really remember very little about the trail to CP1 so it must have been pretty easy. I didn't need anything so rolled through the station without stopping.
AS1 to 2
...or known as where my day turned to shit.
After a few miles of road you hit the single track for the climb up Wolf ridge. Everybody complains cause you get stuck behind people hiking it. I was perfectly content to take my place in line and trudge up this mutha. Our own little "rolling party" going up the mountain, cracking jokes and bitching to each other about where the top was. The hike finally ended and the descent starts. Nothing real technical or steep. About 1/3 of the way down we, me and 2 others that are grouped together come across a downed rider and his buddy. THe guy is laying in the trail not moving. This doesn't look good at all. They've already sent for help and there's nothing we can do so we continue on. Somehow I get in front and am bombing away at my usual reckless pace.
I'm still not sure what happened.
One minute I'm cruising along, the next I'm flying over the bars.
I remember thinking while I was still in the air "Oh shit, this is going to hurt". I hit the ground right on top of rocks and I was right. It hurt. I layed there for minute while my nerve endings started sending the messages telling me which parts of my body were in the most pain. I remembered that there were riders behind me and knew unless I wanted to be ran over, I better get my ass up.
I stood up and started touching different bones trying to find which ones I had broken.
Hey! Everythings still intact!
Once I figured I was alright I looked at the bike.
Wheels spin, no broken spokes, derailers look ok.Cool. I'm good to go.
What the hell happened?
Up the trail there's a 12" log hidden behind large tuft grass/weed. I must of tried to ride through grass and hit the log.
I take off easily, go to grab some front brake and I got nothing. In the spill the brake lever was yanked outta the master cylinder. The washer and c-ring are still there though. I can't fix this! It took me an hour to put this thing togather at home, on the bench, with the right tools.
No. No. No.
This can't be the end of my ride. I start to think about it. I can put everything back where it belongs and the brakes work.I just gotta hold the lever all the time with 1 finger. It might not work on Rosaryvilles rolling terrain but out here, once you start to go up , your going up for a long time and the same with the decents. I continue my decent, holding the brake.I finally get to the fire road which I know isn't too far from AS2.

First one there to greet me is Mr. Scott Scudmore. He's all smiles and a boost for the morale. He says I'm doing fine but don't drop my pace. Try to get to the next AS in an hour.
Are you on drugs?
I know its a 5 mile climb TILL I get to the peak. Maybe he meant 2 hours or I heard wrong. I show the mechanic at the station my brake and ask if he has snap ring pliers. Like I thought, no. Theres nothing he can do for me.Before I head out the volunteer brings me back my camelback. God luv em, they're angels for being out there but ya gotta watch what you say to em. As I came in I told them to fill it up with water. I can't figure out how they got the bladder back into the camelback after filling it. For that matter, how did that small women carry it back to me now that its filled with 50lbs of water? I wasnt there for more than 5 minutes,and I forgot to fill my gel bottle or get anything to eat. I rode off towards the big climb. Just outta site of the AS I pulled over to pop some pills (sports legs and endurolytes) and drained half the water out. I didn't want the volunteer to see me doing this after all the trouble they went to. A few miles of asphalt and than the fireroad climb up Hankey Mt. I knew what was coming and was ready for the 4 or 5 mile climb.
After 2 miles of grinding away I get to the point where later I should turn to the left to go back to camp. I try to convince the course marshal there to let me turn left and hide in the woods for 4 hours, you know, shave a little off of the course. Little power hungry bastard said no and sent me on my way to right to continue climbing.
Before I reach the singletrack I run back into the group I had been hanging with earlier. Good to be with familiar faces again. I walked a lot more of the final singletrack to the top than I had to in the pre ride but still didn't do too bad. At the top I fiddle with brake lever and put it back into position for the downhill.
The top starts out a little technical but gets gradually easier as you get closer to the bottom. 1/3 of the way down our groups comes up on another downed rider. There are already 5 riders standing around trying to help. This guy has a big gash on his head. They're trying to clean it up and stop the bleeding. After 10 minutes me and few other riders seeing that theres nothing we can do take off.
Somewhere on this section my finger gets knocked from its postion of holding in brake lever in place. The lever pops out, I got no front brake and am building speed on the off camber descent. I'm squeezing the rear brake for all I'm worth. It seems like it's not evan slowing me. I find a good spot and ride off the trail onto the upside of the camber,heading up the mountain and finally am able to stop the bike. Take a second to let the heartrate come down, put the brake lever back in postion and take off again. The previous episode repeated itself one more time before I made it off of the steep stuff onto the gravel road to AS3.

AS3 to 4
First thing I do is find the mechanic and ask him about snap ring pliers. He's got nothing. I ask him to go ahead and adj. my low-limiting screw on the front-d. Its been having problems getting granny. Actually more than problems, to get it to shift down I've actually had to get off of the bike and push the chain over. I get some water in the camelback and go back to the bike. He's cleaned/lubed the chain. He didn't wanna mess with the limiter cause the line looks good to him. He thinks it should shift better now with the clean chain. I think to myself, bullshit. He says if I'm not in that big of hurry he'll take it out and check it out under load.
Hey, I know I'm not in contention for the podium but still, I've got time constraints.I thank him but decline and hit the road for the 5 miles of aspalt. I'm getting passed by some riders on the road. Where this is my re-coup time, to them its make up time.
I get to the single track climb with 4 other riders. They start talking about a 6:00 cutoff time for for leaving AS5. This is the first I'd heard about it. I didn't hear anything about a cutoff, except for lights at the meeting last night. Still it shouldn't bother me, I don't remember what time it was but I figured I should get there atleast 20 minutes before 6:00.
It was now , on this climb, I entered the dark zone.
2 of the guys I was with slowly faded from sight, although all of us were walking. Me and the other kept togather for 1/2 of climb than he slowly started to get ahead of me. I went to take a drink and I get the tell-tell gurgle of an empty camelback.
Oh shit.
I'm walking everything and pausing every 3 minutes to take a breather. I'm past my pill-popping deadline(endurolytes) and start to get twinges of cramps but don't have anything to wash them down with.
I start to have bad thoughts.
"I'm the last person on the course. IF there were people behind me sureley they would have caught up to me as slowly as I was climbing"
"F**k THIS. IF I make it to AS 4, I'm done."
I make it too the top and start the decent. I'm trying to be as careful as possible while holding my brake lever in place. I'm riding the brake alot and noticing that its getting spongy.
"It didn't pull in this far before, did it?"
My lack of speed is screwing with my riding, I'm used to carrying more momentum. I think the lack of speed is making my riding worse than going too fast. 3/4 of the way down I hear a noise behind me.
Its another rider!
I wasn't the last rider.
I let him pass but stay with him pretty good as the terrain is starting to get less steep and technical. I'm positive now that the brake is getty spongy. It just about bottomed out on the bar grip a few times.
At the bottom, the other rider is resting. He says there are still alot of riders behind us. My outlook immediately changes. Sure I'm slow, but so far not the slowest. A few miles and I reach AS4.

AS4 to 5
All thoughts of quitting here were gone. No way in hell was I going to stop here. I down about 5 cups of gatorade, I was frigg'n thirsty. I'm actually looking forward to the next section. All up, but all road/double track and nothing overly steep. I'm not thinking straight enough to figure out the cutoff time. I head out alone but stop to pull the ipod out. 4 guys pass me on the road. I'm immediately on there tails.
At the left turn onto the steeper fireroad up to Shenandoah Mt. theres only me and another guy. The others faded off the back somewhere. We pause at the intersection for a few minutes for 1 of the guys. He never shows so we take off.
Now we're figuring the time out. We've got 30 minutes to make it 4 miles, all up hill,as I remember.
Not a chance in hell, but we aren't giving up.
On the way up I start to think about if I should, if we're allowed, to continue with my brakes the way they were and as tired as I am.
Finally at 5:55 with a mile to go I know AS5 is it for me.
Some volunteers in a pickup going up to the AS stopped and asked if I wanted a ride to the AS. They had 2 of the guys who had started from AS4 with me in the back of the truck. I told them no thanks, I made it this far, I'm atleast getting to AS5 on my own.
At 6:10 I reach it.
Brandon, the guy I started the climb with , told me they we're going to let us go on if we wanted. I told him sorry, I'm done. He's on his own. He replies,"Oh no, I wasnt going on either".
There were 3 other riders there waiting for a ride down and 2 more came in after us. All of us were done. We waited while the volunteers packed everything and than got a ride down. Just to add insult to injury, the guy I was riding with had the list to drop off at AS6 of the people who had dropped, so I had the humiliation of having to stop there and watch finishers stop at and then continue on from 6.

I've been beating the shit outta myself wondering if I made the right decision.
Was I using the brakes as an excuse to drop?
We'll its been 3 days since the race, I'm starting to feel normal again and thinking about it from a different perspective.
What, was I stupid?
To evan think about taking that decent, halfway in the dark with a spongy front brake that I could lose completely at any minute
.Yeah I made the right call. I'll do it next year.
Maybe with mechanical brakes.


Tom said...

hey man it wasn't you it was your bike so don't get too down on the situation or feel embarrassed. Sometimes it just works out like that. If anything move on to some new challenges and when the time comes for next years' SM100 think back on this and use it as motivation. Good luck, hope you keep updating the blog, it can be damn entertaining at times.

steve said...

I don't know how you made it that far with just 1 brake?! I lost my front brake at Patapsco last week and was scared like a little bitch on some descents, so nice job. It was the bike, not you. So when you break up with the bike, you can't say, "It's not you, it's me".
I'll be joining you next year.

gwadzilla said...

before I read this
I must say


gwadzilla said...


don't beat yourself up
the race is hard enough with your bike working
the face you lasted as long as you did with failing brakes and failing front derailuer is amazing

as I read your piece i pictured the sag wagon in the animated film, The Triplets of Bellview

good job out there

you had a good time preparing for this
you logged a whole lot of good miles
you are faster and stronger on the bike than you were before

it was a good experience

good job

you made the right choice

now I need to go read the short version of the race report
what is that... only 3,000 words?

Tom said...

Joel,you wanna tell me, MY post is lengthy? Come on, your the king of blogging. Your descriptions of your rides into work are sometimes longer than this.

Ok, I'm over the funk.
Its too early for another countdown timer, isn't it?

Darren said...

Tom good report, I took it easy on the downhills I thought I had it bad with a spongy back brake. You made the right call Chestnut Ridge was the longest downhill, and you are tired which makes it harder. Next year you will make it man.