This year was the 10th anniversary of the race however, for me, it was just the 8th time in a row that I put my bike at the start line. I hoped I would reach the finish line just like I have each time before. The start did not seem any more stressful than in previous editions. Even the prospect of winning the $200 dollars prime for the first person to reach the top of the hill did not cause any erratic behaviors. Jorden Wakeley started to sprint for the prime, I followed him closely just to make sure his sprint will not transform into a solo breakaway only 2 miles into the trails.
With the acceleration, Jorden and I had a gap; a gap that got larger as we made our way down the hill. Shortly after Jorden pull to the side and let me lead. I did not give it too much thought; after all I had just rode at the lead for over 99 miles three weeks earlier during the Mohican 100. I noticed that the ground was very soft due to the rain the day before but also because of the motorcycles (checking the course) losening up the ground even more with their very knobby tires, it was really like riding on snow.
With fresh legs, it was no problem and Jorden let me do all the pacing. The start of the second lap was much more fun: the 300 bikes that went thru the trail during the 1st lap steam rolled the trail and now my Specialized Epic was the best bike to have on those trail conditions. But like most things in life, you need to enjoy them immediately because they don’t last forever. With about ¾ lap of the 2nd completed, I ran out of energy. Jorden was riding away from me without even having to attack.
Fortunately, I have a done quite a few of those 100 miles races and I have been in this position before. However, that does not mean I liked what was lying ahead of me: Pain! Maybe subconsciously I knew this condition would happen because I had left one extra bottle of CarboRocket to drink at the aid station but not for carrying with me on the bike. This additional bottle along with some gels provided by my friend was enough to slowly rev-up back the engine.
As fate would have it, I started to spot Jorden at about the same location where he rode away from me. So here we were, about 8 miles from the finish. Just like before, Jorden tucked himself neatly behind me. From experience, I know it is much easier (faster) to follow wheels than it is to ride on our own (read my race report from 2012 Fool’s Gold 100 here). On one hand, I just had to be patient and wait for a suitable location to attack. On the other hand, I had to hurry up or I would run out miles… somewhat ironic when you race for 100 miles!
With 5 miles to go, I saw a stretch of trail I liked and gave it a nice push. I glanced once behind to confirm that there was a gap. It was now a time trial to the finish. Strange how 20 miles before the finish I was afraid of the legs to cramp and now 5 miles to go at full speed I knew the legs would not seize up. Mind over the body!
I crossed the finish in first place!… and immediately searched for a bench to rest!