Here it is, my Lumberjack 100 report, late but better than never! I made the voyage from Colorado back to the Midwest for the second time in as many weeks for my first attempt at the Lumberjack, and only my second 100-mile race. What initially drew me to this event, which I registered for back in February, was the majority of singletrack and absence of all else. What I hadn’t considered was that it was Father’s Day weekend and I would be going up there with my Dad to camp in the forests of Northern Michigan. Almost too perfect.
On Friday’s short pre-ride, in which I only did a few miles of the 33-mile course, I was feeling tired and unenthused. The tired feeling could be explained by the 15-hour travel day on Thursday without sleeping the night before, then getting less-than-optimal sleep Thursday night. The trails were one big bed of leaves, with a lot of sand and sticks strewn about. Not the awesome wet dirt singletrack of Mohican 100 that I enjoyed so much, but you can’t always get what you want!
I was up at 5 a.m. Saturday morning to make coffee and get ready. I elected not to eat anything but a Honey Stinger waffle about 5 minutes before the start. The start went off about 2 miles down the road from the Udell Hills Recreation Area. I was surprised that I was able to keep pace and stay near the front of the 350-rider wave of starters, mostly by drafting off of geared riders. As soon as entering Udell Hills it almost immediately turns to singletrack, which creates quite the funnel. I did my best to use the edge of the course and get around 5-10 riders right there as they stayed in the middle and were forced to slow down.
|Dickie makes his move on the outside going into turn 1!|
As the opening miles got underway it was simply a matter of getting around as many riders as possible and finding some clear air. I made fairly quick work of that and within 10 miles found myself in a group of a couple of fast geared riders and three other singlespeeders. This group of 6 or so would jockey back and forth for much of the first lap, and it was nice to have some geared riders to draft off of on the sections of doubletrack. At that point, about 10 miles in, I noticed a few things. Number 1, I was feeling a bit faster on the climbs than the other guys, but thought it beneficial to stick with them and pace myself. Number 2, my seat had dropped down a bit, making pedaling seated a lot harder than normal. Because of the fast pace of the race and the constantly twisting singletrack always keeping you on your toes, I neglected to stop and fix the problem. At the same point, I had also forgotten to eat and hydrate.
By the end of the first lap my seatpost had completely dropped into the frame, and I had spent the better part of an hour and a half standing up to pedal, completely smoking my legs in trying to keep up with the group, and completely neglecting nutrition. At the same time, my usual focus on positivity was lost. I came into the start/finish in a fit of rage. I fixed the seatpost quickly and went on my way, now with a new aggression and ambition to catch back up to the group that had dropped me by 5 or 6 minutes. Unknowingly, I was only about 8 minutes back of the leaders at this point! I crushed the first 10 or so miles of the second lap and had actually been able to close the gap on our group again. Just as I caught their wheel, we hit a section of fireroad, and my legs and overall energy level went “BOOM!!” I couldn’t hang on as they drifted into the distance.
|Catching back up.|
My energy levels continued to drop and never came back. It is usual in a race of this distance to have a “bonk” or feel like shit for a time, but you just hope that your body recovers. For some reason, on this day, mine didn’t. I struggled mightily for the next two hours, going backwards, staggering around the singletrack like a drunken sailor and just trying to hold on. Coming into the start/finish after lap 2 I had all but decided to call it quits. It wasn’t going to be my day and I decided to forego the extra pain and punishment of another lap, when it was the last thing in the world I wanted to be doing.
This was a day of learning lessons in a real way. It felt horrible to not finish a race; something I never want to do again. In retrospect, I don’t have any qualms about quitting, as I think it was the best thing to do. I have so much more racing and riding to look forward to this year that sparring my body the pain and not killing my ambition and enthusiasm to do such things is important. On a positive note, I was riding really fast early on. It wasn’t until midway through the second lap, after struggling for hours, that Garth Prosser came to my wheel and eventually passed me. He finished 7th overall riding a geared bike! I was also passed late in the second lap by eventual 3rd place SS finisher Ernesto Marenchin.
In the end, it was a bad race day that I learned from. More importantly though was hanging out with good friends, spending Father’s Day with my Dad and enjoying the beauty of Michigan. I don’t get as many chances to do that as I do to race.
Upon getting back to Colorado my focus has completely changed. After spending about 2 months extremely focused on training, nutrition, racing, and resting, I really wanted to get back to the roots of the sport. What better time and place to do that than summer in Colorado! I have given up specific training and nutrition regimens for a short time and replaced them with awesome rides in the high-country that have me more stoked than ever to get out and shred, and enjoying a post-ride beer when I want.
This weekend I’m super excited to be racing in Keystone at the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series race, and hopefully spending another day or two ripping down the lift-assisted bike park at Keystone and riding some awesome high-country singletrack! Summer in Colorado is sooooo gooooood!! Cheers.