Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wilderness 101 Race Report 8/1/09

Yesterday I raced the Wilderness 101 in Coburn, PA. I did it on my trusty 29er single speed with a gearing of 33x18. The gear was perfect.

I finished 23rd out of maybe 50 or so single speeders. While I'm glad I finished I'm not so happy with the results. But, the good news is I felt very strong throughout the entirety of the race. I had some major malfunctions, or mechanical failures, that added roughly 1.5 to 2 hours to my finishing time. To be honest, I'm very surprised I even finished with all the problems I had. Were it not for the kindness and generosity from a few fellow racers I definitely would've not finished.

I had three, yes, three, flat tires, all on the front and my chain broke after about 52 miles. After the 2nd flat, I had no tubes. So, I started walking down the single track descent pausing every few seconds to let racers fly by me. After about 20 minutes of this one racer stopped and gave me his tube and pump and told me to give him the pump after the race or if I eventually caught up to him. The tube he gave me had a faulty valve stem so after wasting about 10 or so minutes trying to air up the tire I started walking again. Another 10 or so minutes rolled by and I hit the gravel fire road. I walked for a bit and decided I didn't really care if I trashed my rim and tire so I started riding. I rode for about 5 miles and then hit a climb. At this point I started passing the slower riders with a front flat tire! A few found this very amusing. After a bit, I ran across two guys sitting on the side of the road so I stopped to beg another tube. Fortunately, one of the guys was on a 29er so I got a tube the proper size. I aired it up higher than I would prefer to avoid another flat and off I went. All was good for the next hour or so. At mile ~50 I made it to aid station three in high spirits and was told the hardest climb of the day was to come. I love climbing and this is where I was making up heaps of time so I was excited! They were not lying. It was difficult since it was muddy and slick and rocky and all on narrow single track. I made it to the top of the 2 mile climb and wham, my chain falls off. I'm wondering how the hell this could happen since I'm not shifting any and the chain is pretty snug. I stop, put it back on, tighten the chain tensioner a bit, and off I go. Or, off I almost go. Immediately the chain fell off again. I decide something is wrong so inspect the chain. Two links are totally mangled and the chain is ruined. So, without another chain or the means to fix it I decide to go down the hill and back to the aid station. At the bottom, a volunteer was there telling people where to turn and he saw me coming down and asked what in the world was I doing?? I told him I liked the climb so much I figured I'd do it all over again! He had a look of horror on his face so I told him I was kidding and my chain was broken. He told me a mechanic is in the aid station and to go talk to him. The mechanic told me no problem, and I figured he was just going to fix it. Out he pulls a brand new SRAM chain and hooked me up! Awesome! So I'm back in the race again!

Off I go up the brutal climb. For the rest of the race I hammered it out trying to make up time but I had lost so much I couldn't catch the front runners. I ended up finishing about 1 hour 20 minutes behind the first place finisher.

The course was extremely rocky on the single track. I got the crap kicked out of my upper body. A rigid fork was not such a great thing for this race. I may have to reconsider and go squishy up front for the next race.

Overall, I'm happy with the finish since I felt so strong up to the finish line. I can't wait for the next race in about a month. The course and race were very well organized and the post race dinner was perfect. And, free, good micro brews!

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