Monday, May 13, 2013

Wildcat 100

Photo Courtesy of Renegade Mountain Bike Club

I had given myself an out for the Wildcat 100 in New Paltz, NY. I hadn't been feeling right since Cohutta and I hadn't even been able to pull off a ride that could be considered a workout. After a rough week, I kept taking it day by day. Friday rolled around and I still felt like I had just stepped off the bike from Cohutta and had some sort of funk still going on. I even changed my gearing from spinny to spinner because I knew I had no power. I woke up Saturday and just went with it. It was raining and I knew it was going to be another "fun one". 

My body may have not been right but I knew I was in a good place mentally. That's half the battle. What the Hell? It's only a hundred miles, right? Just go ride your bike, the rest will fall into place.

Not gonna lie, there was some chaos surrounding the race: registration, drops, timing chips, so on and so forth...I just prayed the course was marked well. Having done one of the promoter's events before I knew to keep my head on a swivel.

I had originally planned on running a 34/19. The course kept changing. Add weather and a tired ass body and I went with a 34/21. Now, I am not a spinny girl. On any day I will choose to be overgeared rather than under so this was a new thing for me. The start was a little climb into flat road all the way to Williams Lake. It was probably only a mile or so but it felt like 20 as everyone flew past me on their geared contraptions. I tried to hang onto wheels but I had a feeling that it was going to be conga line style once we entered WL and I wasn't feeling so peppy so I just backed off. It was the usual 100 starting chaos. Add rain and greasy mud and you have a party. I made it to one of the flat road sections and I have to admit I was feeling a little sorry for myself and hating my gearing selection as I could only rock out 13-14 mph and more people were flying past me as if I was standing still. From out of nowhere someone came along and slapped me on the ass. I was confused at first then saw who it was and it all made sense: C-Dubbs. I couldn't help but smile and laugh.

I slowly plugged away. I knew when I couldn't sit the gear on not-so-steep inclines that is was going to be a painful day. It rained. It stopped. It rained some more. I made it through some more climbs and more flat sections. There were horses who had busted out of their field and were bucking and kicking and being ornery as any escapees will do. I found them entertaining but others not so much. Made a couple wrong turns and actually rode into a man's driveway at one point. I regained my composure and made it to the aid station at mile 26 and switched to bottles and made my way down the descent to Lippman. The 2 miles of  flat road all the way to Lippman was not one of my favorite parts of the day. Once I got into Lippman it was pouring. I smiled because I do love to ride in wet, muddy, rooty, rocky stuff. I actually had fun with it. Out of Lippman, I had the 2 miles of flat and the climb all the way back up Minnewaska. On the way up Minnewaska, a shirtless man working in his yard told me I was pretty (obviously inebriated) and offered me whatever he was drinking (vodka I presume from the accent). Tempting at the time but I didn't want to end up on 48 Hours Mystery and I continued to the aid station, saw some friendly faces, met up with a teammate, climbed some more and headed down "the Alp" and to more flattish roads.

The horror prize of the day goes to a field. That's right. A field. I followed the course markings, dropped down into some fresh cut and then it was a freshly plowed field with two days of rain staring at me. I looked around for the course and finally with some crack detective work decided that that was the course. Oh, yes. I could see it now. 6-8 inch deep foot prints and some tire marks. I tried to ride it but my tires packed and the mud brought me to a halt. I got off and tried to walk it. I was attempting to muscle my bike forward but the mud packed more with every rotation. My bike stopped dead at one point and I kept moving forward and I hit my face on my handlebars. I stopped to make sure no one saw that sweet move. I then decided that if I was the land owner I would totally be sitting out here right now with friends watching this debacle with beer and a smile. I would have made a day of it. Someone could charge admission and make some money. I tried to pick my bike up and it weighed ~40 lbs. I had to stop and clear the mud out every few rotations. I had to laugh or else I would have cried. Poor white shoes. You were so pretty. I apologized and told them that not all races will be like Cohutta and Wildcat. Or will they?

A little taste of some trail:
Photo thanks to Cindy C.

There were some other mid-calf mud horrors ahead. The course ran alongside an electric fence at one point and the mud was deep and sketchy. A guy I was following touched the fence with his shoulder and let out a yelp followed by some colorful obscenities. I was so impressed with his word choices that I put them in my bank for later. I commended him for his creativity and he laughed. I quickly adjusted and rode on the left side of the "trail" away from the live fence.

While a lot of people looked forward to the longer 12 mile rail trail section, I did not. I felt like a circus monkey on a bike. I looked at my speedometer and tried to keep moving as fast as my masher legs would take me. My new friend who was attacked by the electric fence earlier caught up with me and offered to pull me. I couldn't even hang on. He offered to slow down but I told him to save himself and go.

I made it to the Larsen Loop singletrack that was near the end. I had some navigational issues after that. I came out of the Larsen Loop and had no idea where to go. I rode backwards on the trail hoping for signs of life. I retraced my steps and saw nothing. I saw two people at a house and asked which way riders went. They told me three went right and a couple left.Well, shit. That didn't help me. I went left for a minute and it felt wrong. I came back to the intersection, listened for signs of life and I rode a couple more circle again and decided that there was more evidence of bikes that went right. No confirmation markers but it didn't feel wrong. I then saw arrows going the wrong way and then confirmation tape and I knew I had made the right decision. We went out the same way we came in. Thank goodness. After some more mud shenanigans I finished.

Worse than Cohutta conditions wise? Perhaps. There was  a lot more mud. It's a tough call because I could at least feel my extremities at the Wildcat.

Was it up to NUE standards? No way. Not even close. There were issues. I have a new appreciation for the other NUEs and what fantastic jobs the promoters do. The results were and are somewhat sketchy still. Some were rerouted to road and some took singletrack. Some missed entire sections of trail. Some are missing from the results entirely. I think everyone had a different version of the course. I'm not sure the results will ever be "final".

Some positives about doing the Wildcat 100 were sleeping in my own bed the night before and after the race and getting to do the following the next day instead of riding in a car for 13 hours:

Sleep In
Farmer's Market
Clean Up
Picnic Lunch at Waway
Ice Cream
Date with DVR

Most of the activities we could have done and have done by bike. However, we chose to do them with the aid of a Dodge Ram instead. It was a lovely day for our day of R & R. I cannot tell a lie...I'm beat. Next up? Hmmm. Decisions, decisions...