The Too Tired for a Race Report Race Report: The Shenandoah Mountain 100

The Too Tired for a Race Report Race Report: The Shenandoah Mountain 100
it is late and I am tired
yet still I am compelled to try and jot down some words before it is all forgotten

right now I am sore
specific parts of my body are sore
if I were to say my legs are sore or that my arms are sore I would not be giving justice to the soreness that exists here
I could draw a sketch of the muscle system for Gray's Anatomy with the specificity of the soreness I am experiencing

the discomfort has been numbed by a poor man's percocet
nearly to the bottom of this bottle of wine
nearly to the bottom of this bottle of wine and I have not thrown down word one of this The Too Tired for a Race Report Race Report: The Shenandoah Mountain 100

so here it goes...

The Too Tired for a Race Report Race Report: The Shenandoah Mountain 100
on saturday I loaded my car and lisa's car
the black dog brutus went in the Honda Element while the boys drove in lisa's Passat wagon
the car was packed, I was registered, I had a new bike, and my legs were freshly shaved
what more did I need?
it was too late to train
all I needed to do was get there and ride my bike

saturday afternoon we arrived to the Stokesville campground just outside of Harrisonburg Virginia to a flurry of activity
after the long drive everyone was excited to be at our destination
brutus rolled in the grass
dean and grant played with a nine dollar toy from Walmart

lisa decompressed after a four hour drive with battling siblings in the back seat
I registered then scrambled to get the tents set up before the rain blew in

the rain did not arrive immediately... but it did rain
it rained around the time when everyone had gone to bed
which was fine
the rain muffled the late night partiers and snuffed the effort for any more late night fireworks

in an effort for me to try and get a full night's sleep lisa slept in one tent with the two boys and the dog
while I slept solo in another tent

before going to sleep I whispered to myself to deny the desire to steal a few minutes of sleep in the morning
so after finding it difficult to fall asleep I found myself awake and in my riding gear at 5am
by this time the rain had long since stopped and the waking racers were greeted by a warm morning before any sign of the rising sun

since I am not paid for chamois time I stepped out of my lycra riding gear and
back into some street clothes and went and grabbed some coffee and a bagel
perhaps error one of my long list of endurance race errors on this day
coffee and a bagel was a wonderful start to my morning meal
but I did not eat any more... it is hard to eat at a time when I am usually deep in a dream state
so I under ate
I should have eaten more

after coffee and a bagel I meandered about
a stop at the porta john for a deposit and some morning greetings shared with friends as w
e all scattered about
back to the car to pull my bike from the interior of the car
then back in my riding gear
by this time the race start is rapidly approaching
people are riding about
people are warming up

it is here where I list excuse number two...
in an effort to protect the bike from the evening's rain I tucked the bike into the Honda Element
go get things to fit I removed the seat post from the bike

after pulling the bike from the car I returned the seat post to the frame
the bike is new so there is no wear line for the proper insertion point

I threw my leg over the saddle and did a few rotations
in my semi sleep state it seem right
75 miles later I would decide that my seat was definitely too low

on the bike I rolled up to the line
I gathered with a list of seven racers from the DCMTB squad
after some utterance over a handheld megaphone we were off
immediate bottleneck
tire to tire... bar end to bar end
the day had begun
anxious riders swarmed down the road

I spun my way down the pavement towards the first fire road climb at a less than race pace speed along with another 549 or so mountain bikers

things felt good

sort of surreal actually
rolled up the first climb in the middle ring surrounded by some solid riders
only being passed by a cast of seriously superior riders
feeling confident that I was where I needed to be

dropped into the first downhill feeling pretty okay
I accepted the singletrack caterpillar

no passing at this point
riders were forced to accept their place in line
only able to ride where others rode
if one person failed to clear an obstacle
then the line of racers behind them were forced to give up their momentum and dismount as well

I passed MikeK as he finished a flat repair only to have him barking at me as things headed down the first descent
it was a hoot a holler and a scream
things were kept safe by the pace being dictated by a the racers in front of me
the feel of my brand spanking new NINER RIP9 had me smiling

after this downhill smile we hit the first paved road

two seconds off the dirt and onto the paved road I realized I did not have the passion for pushing the big ring on the flats
the under extended seat post may have had something to do with this
the under trained body may have had something to do with this

people drafted off my unusually large frame for a cyclist until pace lines passed me
offers were made to hop onto rear wheels
but I did not take anyone up on these offers

instead I just pedaled along
casual conversation was shared with an assortment of racers
the day was moving along nicely

unsure of the names of the climbs/trails/descents I can not give the appropriate tour

off the road and back into the woods
off the road and off the bike
into the woods for a long march up the mountain

I walked as a few people spun the granny gear
the majority of people were pushing our bikes
those of us on foot pulled over for the "rider up" utterance
as a simple rule... if riding is no faster than walking... I walk

the fast spin of the granny gear does not suit my body style

this early in the race my brain was still in the game
faster riders were passing me
but that did not effect me
many people are faster than me
so I let them go at their pace while I maintained mine

at checkpoint two I rolled in to the sound of cowbells and the site of my family

lisa was with the boys cheered on racers as they rolled into the checkpoint
three faces lit up as I rolled up
I dismounted and hugged my family
strong hugs from lisa, dean, and grant

only grant hesitated to hug my sweat soaked body
the sparkle in my boy's eyes and the smile on my wife's face gave me a power that made
me feel as if I could do anything
if only I had bottled that emotion and saved it for later in the day
it was here that I was reminded that I had forgotten to tape a photo of my boys to the stem of my handlebars

the details are slipping me where did I start to lose it where did the notion of quitting begin?
cramping is part of the Shenandoah Mountain 100 was it that the cramping started early? was it that the cramping was above and beyond the usual hundred mile experience?

it was a long day... a long painful day
well... a day filled with lots of pain
long slow painful climbs
climbs I would have never signed up for if they were not matched by the long glorious descents
the first descent was just about the only descent that was dictated by the pace of another

there were other people on the climbs later in the game
but everyone was willing to pull over and let me slide by after a friendly request for such
just as I granted faster descenders the right of way when they approached me

the day was not going along entirely as planned
the miles were rolling by
but maybe not as fast as I had thought they would
more people were passing me than I was passing
I was not riding in the cluster of racers that I had thought I would be riding with

in fact... for the most part I was riding alone

things really cracked up between check points four and five
this is always a tough part of the course for me
I never look forward to this part of the race
in fact... I dread this part of the race
but... I usually step up and knock it out
on this day... it knocked me out

at checkpoint four I left out fueled up

water in the camelback, gatorade in the bottle, and lube on the chain
I rolled out with ambition
just out of check point four I caught a woman from Charlottesville
we talked along side of each other... when cars approached we got in line

then we caught laurie webber and kept on rolling
the pace was good as well was the conversation
I pulled these ladies and dropped them off on the wheel of anna kelso
then dropped off
I was not feeling the pace line game... not sure why... but I do not do the pace line game
I watched as they did an alternating leader pace line

they caught a guy from de oro from North Carolina I had ridden with earlier in the day
I watched as he shared in the pace line game

the wind blew in my face as I maintained the same pace thirty yards behind them
I think my chronology is skipping around right now
the race is a blur
but I am thinking that that pace line of pain was after three

finally I reached the woods... maybe that pace line game was after check point three...

I had been convinced if I stayed with this pace line I could get back in the game once in the woods
when my wheels touched dirt I picked up the pace
I did not catch the full group
only DCMTB team mate Anna Kelso
I had wanted to match pace with the Clydesdale from De Oro... but he pulled away while I waned on the road

in the woods I found myself walking where I would usually ride
my walking pace was not what it should have been
it was as if my passion was possessed by a snail
I found myself trying the granny gear in situations where I would usually grind the middle ring
I was not sure if it was the new and different bike
or my weakness on the day

the bike was awesome
the body... well... the body was not as it should be
or worse yes
the mind was not what it could have been

I was crumbling under the pressure and pain of the day

mentally I was losing the game
on this day I was unable to let my mind over come things
pain is part of the day
cramping is part of the day
how a racer deals with these things dictates the day

I lost it 3/4 of the way in the race
when I pulled over and stopped
I do not usually pull over and stop
I pulled over and stopped to massage various cramps

I let riders pass
I asked some passing riders on their estimated finishing times
when I heard their proposed finishing time I gave up
a number of racers passed and answered that they were looking to finish plus 12 hours
I gave in
it did not make sense to me to go through this to finish in plus twelve hours
as I had shown a number of times I can race this race in sub 12 hours
heck... I had broken 11 hours twice an was reaching for ten

so I got off the bike

I stood on the roadside and watched bikes go by
like a wounded animal I massaged my aches and pain
as riders snailed by I envisioned the racers in Triplets of Bellville
I was one of those breathless riders being engulfed by the sag wagon
unsure of things I quizzed riders on their estimated finish time
the plus twelve hour finishing time had me defeated
robbed me of the last bit of spirit I possessed

I debated with turning it around towards checkpoint four
but instead pushed forward toward checkpoint five
I did not push much further forward
it was here where I considered raising my seat post
with the seat post raised the legs felt better

but that did nothing for my mental state

my mind was out of the game
I stopped my bike again
not because of cramping
but because I wanted to quit

at the side of the road I sat dejected
waiting for a car to pull over for me to offer a ride back to the campground at stokesville
cars passed towards check point five
drivers waved as they passed
no one headed my way
no one stopping to offer assistance

with my helmet off my head and my camelback on the road by my side I sat
not so much fatigued that I could not move
just tired of moving slow

feeling dejected I sat
not fueling with the water in my pack, not drinking the gatorade in my bottle, not eating any of the various foods in my jersey pockets
I just stared at the bicyclists as they passed
cranks spinning
everyone asking if I was okay as they propelled themselves closer to the finish

in the distance headed towards me I saw fellow DCMTB team mate Anna Kelso with another familiar form following close behind her
not so much out of my competitive spirit
but more from the understanding that it would be quicker to finish than to wait for the sag wagon to take me back I suited back up
by the time anna reached me I had my helmet on my head and pack on my back

I mounted my bike and spun along side of her
I was on the bike and moving before a Clydesdale friend from the local race scene passed as well

still not convinced I rode along side of anna
we spoke
we conversed about how each felt
anna was doing well even though this ultra endurance race is not her style
anna had broken the rail on her saddle before checkpoint two and was riding on a loaner
she had not quit
she had not found an excuse good enough to quit
anna probed me to see if I had an catostophic failure grand enough to give up
then anna asked me what I was going to tell my boys

what am I going to tell my boys?

I started in on the logic of it is okay to quit
then I realized... that is not me
anna got my head back in the game

anna and I rode together as I pieced things back together
then I linked up with Greg
still not one hundred percent in the game I got a bit of a pep talk from Greg
Greg made mention of regrets having me realize that it would only be a day or two where I would be wishing I had finished
Greg was right
the combined efforts of Anna and Greg got my head back in the game
my body had not failed me
it was my mind that failed me

I made the climb to Check Point Five
if you can make it to Check Point Five... you can finish the race

at check point five just as I had done at Check Point three I changed my clothes
fresh socks, fresh shorts, fresh gloves
some Ibruprophen and some watermelon some pizza and some coca cola
with lube on the chain, water in the camelback, gatorade in the bottle I was ready to finish the race
I left out strong

the rest of the race closed out much how I wish the miles prior had gone
there was a passion to attack when I could
and I acceptance to walk where I must
I tried to avoid dismounting too soon and remounting too late
that had been the pattern of much of the race

initially I had planned on blowing through Check Point Six
but I was still feeling a tad depleted
tough to run my body on no real food other than the Hammer Gel in my flask and the various foods off the buffet tables at each check point

the last climb was less than a pleasure
but the final descent was fantastic
the energy I felt from the notion that I was going to finish was fantastic

to try and fail and then get to try again
well... I came through the finish feeling pretty spry
okay... not spry
but there was a certain sense of satisfaction in finishing
a feeling far greater than I would have felt had I taken a ride back in the sag wagon

at the finish I checked my time... I think it was eleven hours and eighteen minutes
my mental collapse! it was all for not
had I stayed in the game
had I...
had I...
there is a long list of had I's
I will have to remember that list for next year
as there is no going back
I am glad I did it
I am glad it is done
I am glad it is behind me

special thanks to Anna Kelso and Greg Pepelko for pulling me out of a hole!

and of course
thanks Chris Scott and Shenandoah Mountain Touring for this amazing event!


Marc said...

they are right- pushing thru when you want to quit is better for you, and a better lesson for your boys.

nobody said it would be easy...the trial is the point, isn't it? otherwise, you could just throw you bike in a pickup truck and just ride the downhills.


IF Chicks said...

You seemed to be discouraged when I saw you up at five. Sometimes mood can change esp if you are getting dehydrated. It's hard to stay positive when the mind is reminding you all you can't do, it's great your friends were able to help your mind come around.

A stellar time with no struggle is sometimes not in the cards, but it can feel even better when we can push thru a tough race..esp with some prespective.

WIth all the clothes changes and the time lost in despair, you and that sweet new NIner pulled off a killer time JG !!

It was nice to meet you in person and see the man behind the blog. Glad you were able to have your family there too.

enjoy some well deserved recovery this week !!


gwadzilla said...


the pizza was magic!

it was a fantastic weekend
the ride was brutal for me
but there were moments
the advantage of such things is the notion that misery loves company

met all sorts of people
lots of people passed and if I was gwadzilla

got to ride with some good people
got to march with some good people
was happy when the trails were vacant enough for me to hammer at my own pace with sweet sight lines

definitely good to meet you in person

very cool IF contingent at the race

that pick up ride to the top sounds pretty sweet
I waited
but it never came


camps said...

Thanks Anna and Greg!

I wish I had caught up to you when you were sitting around moping on the side of the trail. But, I was an hour behind you, happy with a couple friends, in an old man's body and no dark thoughts.

I still don't know for sure why I was slower this year, none of my reasons (excuses) actually add up, not even the night before. I guess I just am what I am now, and it's still fun enough. And what I am is 12:09

Barry said...

Always enjoy your race reports. I only wish my best days on a bike were as good as your bad days.

There's no doubt that the timely appearance of a bud or two can change one's whole perspective out there, but I suspect you would have talked yourself off the matt even without any extra encouragement. You just don't seem the type to bail for lack of motivation.

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