- I conquered two of my biggest fears: racing my SS at a ski resort course and riding through geese all in the same race. If I had ridden through creepy keychains with chotskies, a pack (?) of chupacabras and the Kia Hamsters slathered in Miracle Whip, I would have faced more fears. It could have been a day of immersion therapy.
- I did a Super D on my SS. I survived and it was mildly entertaining because I'm a spaz.
- I was a jackass and stopped taking two auto-immune meds that I'd been on for a year the day after Cohutta because I thought I was doing well and could handle not taking them. Well, let's just say about two weeks later it was rough going and there was some REALLY bad bloodwork. Now I'm back on the up and up. I don't think I'll be doing that again. Public Service Announcement: Don't do that. Ever.
The LJ100 is at the Big M Ski Trails in Wellston, MI. The locals lovingly refer to this race as the "Big MF'r". It is. It really is. It has also become one of my favorites. The event is really well run and the vibe is awesome. I can't say enough about it. It's described as one of the easiest hundreds. I'm gonna have to disagree with that. Sure there's nothing technically challenging per se and I think there's one rock on the course, but it's a really fast, sandy course with grinders, some steeps and poppers and there's no real rest. You are literally whizzing through trees for 90 miles of the course. If you zone out it's going to be a very bad day. Case in point: there were quite a few men with arms in slings at the end of the race and I counted 4 tacoed wheels the first two laps.
My starts at hundreds are less than desirable. I don't start to warm-up until about an hour into the race. I'm not sure if it's the lack of warm-up or if it's because the race starts at 7 am and my body is on banker's hours and prefers not to work before 9 am. I wish I could blame it entirely on the SS, but I can't. It's something I know I have to work on. By the time I get to the singletrack, I'm pretty much last (or at least it feels that way). After the first couple hours in traffic, things get rolling and I start to feel better.
The first lap I spent getting used to riding in the sand and cornering. Not gonna lie, I had some issues. I had some near misses with trees because of my awesome cornering skills. My right hand cornering seems to be more atrocious than the left. My friction-rubbed left jersey sleeve is evidence of that. Besides my handling issues, it was a pretty uneventful race for once. No mud, no shorts splitting open and riding with both thighs hanging out, no getting lost...just moving forward and all the normal aches and pains that come along with a hundred.
I knew what my time was from last year and my goal was to cut 45 minutes off. I kept that in my head and every time I would catch myself in lala land for god knows how long I had to snap myself out of it. The focus for a 100 miles is a skill all in itself and one I have to get better at. Note to self: Get faster at daydreaming pace.
Lumberjack is a lap format and it is chip timed so you can see how much you fall off each lap. I was really curious to see if my lap times were consistent. I had a feeling I would be pretty consistent this year. I've gotten better at getting into a pace and staying there. Without fail, I always have a bad patch at a little over 6 hours. I have to have my trip to the dark side or it wouldn't be a hundred. I convince myself that I'm selling every bike and never doing this again, I try to come up with other hobbies/outdoor activities that I think I would enjoy (on this particular ride I was considering organic gardening and buying chickens so I could eat and sell their eggs. Oh, and a pygmy goat. I really want a pygmy goat.) and I have violent thoughts about those riding around me who won't stop chatting. Then I work through it and I usually end up feeling better at the end of the race than I did at the beginning. I only fell off a few minutes each lap and the second and third included multiple pee stops and pits. That made me very happy.
I hit my goal of taking off 45 minutes from last year's time and was just shy of taking off an hour (one less pee stop and I would have had it!). I ended up 2nd SS Women and 10th Overall Women. I was so excited before the race that 7 women were registered in the SS Women and on race day only 3 actually raced and that disappointed me. Most switched to gears and some didn't show. I walked away with $200 so that took away some of the sting.
Five of my teammates showed up for this one and it was nice to have people there for support and fun that far away from home. Fun times were had.
I do have to give a shout out to Charlie for helping me improve this past year and putting up with my shenanigans. Thank you!