Wilmington Whiteface 100k, 2014: The Race

Author’s Note: My crew for this race was made up of my super crew: Coreen, Bailey and Noah, plus three extra additions: My two nieces and Jim Murphy of the ADK Luge Club. Jim had some friends from his home who were racing and wanted to come up to bike and watch the race. Jim brought his camera and so all of the pictures in here are from him. Thanks for coming and photographing the event Jim! Jim’s bonus for his trip was discovering that Lake Placid is an awesome place in the summer (even when the ice is off the luge track).

I like to get to the race early to get a little spinning and a little personal hygiene in. Dave and I were delayed just a little bit because of breakfast and so we were a little late getting to the mountain. Nothing serious as we were still able to take care of all of our needs, but it was a little rushed and I didn’t spin as much as I would have normally before a race.

We lined up with 450 or so of our friends to get the race underway.

wilmington_2014_start

The start of this race is paved and downhill (well the actual start is 200 yards up hill, but it then goes into a 5 mile descent to the first climb) and so it is very very fast. I like to be on the outside. Riding with a bunch of mountain bikers in a large pack makes me nervous. I like to have an escape route. Turned out to be a good thing as the people in the pack decided to slow rapidly whenever there was a little climb or turn. But to my knowledge no one went down there.

The first climb is a 3 mile dirt climb. Here I got my first surprise of the day. I was climbing and saw a familiar rider in front of me. Here does she look familiar?

wilmington_2014_socks1

No? How about this?

wilmington_2014_socks

And here, if you still don’t see, from a little race I did last summer…….

peter_leadville_columbine1

“Rainbow socks” (aka Amanda) from Leadville!

I pulled up next to her and said: “Hey Leadville, 10:20 right?”

She looked over, smiled and laughed.

“You are famous with my friends. They all loved you in my write-up of the race.” I didn’t tell her I had requests for her phone number. (And gentlemen, she’s married so be nice! 🙂 )

“One of my friends saw your blog and told me I had to read it.”

“Have a great race and be safe!” Off I went.

I felt pretty good on that climb, topped it and started to descend. Historically I have been slow on the descents. I tend to use my brakes too much. This time I let it rip. Modulating just a little bit here and there to stay in control. The trail was really loose. Dry, but really loose. For once I was passing people going down. That is followed by about a 2 mile paved transition to the second climb.

The second climb starts with what Dave Weins described the day before to the new riders as the steepest paved road he has even been on. Up we went. I was feeling good.

I checked my heart rate monitor a little more this race than I had before. Never really “using it” but using it as a sanity check. My plan was to stay high zone 2 or low zone 3 on the “flat” stuff. Zone 3-4 on the climbs. I knew from my last long ride I could sustain that kind of effort for this distance and I wanted to make sure my tempo was good.

The super crew was waiting at the first station.

Dave got there first. He started hard. I wanted to race my race and so I didn’t try to go with him.

wilmington_2014_dave1

I got there second.

wilmington_2014_aid1_doug

I didn’t ask about Dave. I didn’t want to know.

The second half of the Jay Mountain climb comes right after the crew station. This is a climb I really like. Actually I like both directions on Jay Mountain. Those climbs are the kind that you can settle into and get a really good rhythm going. You just find a comfortable gear and spin away. 20 ish minutes later I was at the top.

I was, again, really fast on the descent down the back side of the mountain.

This race is an out and back, mostly. At the end of the “out” you do a loop of single track before returning. Historically I see the leaders going back well before I get to the single track. I passed the point where I have seen the leaders and wondered if I would get into the single track and NOT see them this year. Well I got close to the single track before the leaders passed by. I was doing pretty good.

The Blueberry Hill single track section has a really steep climb to start it off. The first two years I walked that climb. This year I rode up. There was a woman hiking down talking to the riders. “Walking is OK, don’t worry. Sometimes its just as fast!” I was riding in line behind someone who was walking. Case in point. I flashed her a grin. “Riding is sometimes more fun though!” She smiled back. Then you do a fast steep descent. Again I was feeling good. For the first time I was passing and gapping people on a descent. Then…….

A second very steep climb.

“Damn, I do NOT remember doing this second climb before.” I heard laughter behind me. ” Me either.” Said another rider.

Steep decent, back onto the pavement and ready for the longest climb of the day up Jay Mountain.

wilmington_2014_blueberry_doug

On Strava the climb back over Jay Mountain is called “The Never Ending Climb”. It fits.

(Author’s Note: I met a couple more people on that climb who commented on reading this blog. Funny. Sorry I didn’t chat more, but I was busy)

I continued to feel good on the climb and passed people going on. I was in a good zone mentally and physically.

It was about this time that I started to do math in my head. I don’t know if you all have experienced this but I start to project finish times. OK I have this far to go, this is my time right now, this is my average speed, there is this much climbing left to do, etc. It never really works out very good for me. I tend to round and estimate and there is so much fluf in that, that my estimates give a broad range, which is completely unhelpful. I gave up trying to do math about 3/4 of the way up the climb.

Bomb down the back side of Jay mountain and into the crew station for the second time. 1 coke, 2 bottles, some gels.

“Do I even want to know how far in front of me he is?”

“12 minutes.” OK, not too bad.

I headed out.

The reward for going up the “steepest paved road” is going down the steepest paved road. I hit 43 mph on the pavement, on my mtb! I actually like that better on my mountain bike than I do on my road bike. The beefy tires make me trust them more. Something about trusting a tire that is 23 mm wide makes me pause at high speeds. I never worry about blowing out a mtb tire.

My front derailleur had been working OK so far. I had to be careful shifting into the big ring but it was workable. My neck was OK. My lower back was a little sore. But nothing that I could not handle.

On the transition between the last two big climbs my stomach started to rumble.

 

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