Five years of the Wilderness 101. That makes me feel old, but then I realize my first one was in 2002, soon after I started riding mountain bikes. Since then I've only missed the 2004 race.
My Friday started out with a bit of frustration, self inflicted of course. I was late out the door, had to go back to the house to get forgotten things, missed a major turn on the route and in general felt like a nervous handshake all day. My missed turn took me to Selinsgrove PA, a place new to me, and the Walmart for a look at an atlas. I've been without a map for a year or so now, and tho it can be annoying I sort of like the challenge of vague directions. In reality I've been holding out to get one of those trucker atlases that are detailed enough to give coordinates to the bathroom.
The alternate route was an easterly approach to Coburn and the race start. I got to drive through Bald Eagle State Park, and after getting a little confused again about my directions I pulled into a house that had a Barber Shop attached to it. Perfect! Because I need a cut and directions. Unfortunately the lady inside had two blue hairs waiting and a man in the chair. All I left with were was some "Oh My's" and directions to Coburn.
I pulled into "The Cove", for a bit of tent pitching and proceeded to gear up for a warm up ride. Last year's and this year's warm up had a very similar feel to them. Get four to 8 people together and ride the last four miles of the race, to the end of the Fishermans trail. Then ride back. Fun, chatty and technical.
Back at camp it's time to clean up in the creek with it's "high bacteria" count, then eat. Get a quick massage from my friend Stephanie, tell Jeremiah Bishop I'm going to suck his wheel all day then I do a bunch of socializing before heading to the tent. The crickets were loud enough to make me want to get ear plugs, then I started listening to their conversations, and became quickly bored enough with patterns of 3 and 4 chirps too drift off. Only to be awakened by Trish Stevenson saying hello after just arriving. Back to Cricket talk.
Normal 5:15 gong wake-up. Campsite comes to life, people hoot and holla, darkness lifts its shroud and visits to the Porta-John increase. I eat my usual: Grits, Eggs and Carrot juice. Interesting huh?
So the race seemed to start off at a pretty high pace this year. I seem to recall Josh Tostado at the front a bit, then maybe Brandon and maybe Sam? I'm sure it was still too early to go to the front. I save that for after aid station 1. At one point Bishop and I take a leak off the back, right when a little attacking was happening, so we had to chase down the peloton a couple of miles before aid station 1. The 1st climb out of Station 1 is where things start to open up and Brandon, Tostado and Tinker were in front with Bishop then me then Sam then the rest settling into their pace. On the dual track descent Toast flatted and then it was only Five at the bottom. Dragaulis, Tinker, Bishop Koerber and myself. We had a good thing going.
It stayed like that for the next 25-30 miles, but at the big climb after aid station 2 I felt things were a little to relaxed and chatty, so I upped the tempo in the steep gravel, and used my CO legs to get us to the top without Brandon.
A strange thing about Tinker was that we would drop him on all the technical single track descents only to see him re-appear minutes later. It was pretty great to watch. Another cool thing was going downhill with Bishop and Sam, since both are smooth and pretty much not drop-able. In years past my one gripe about the 101 course was how the down-hills didn't have a good flow. But this year all that changed and for some reason it was much more fun and rail-able. I attribute that to my big wheeled bike.
It went on like that for awhile, but coming out of station 3, Bishop laid down the law and I followed as if handcuffed to him up Sassafrass trail. This is usually the make or break point for a lot of people in the race. 60miles in and a huge single-track climb tends to put some people down for a nap. We managed to get a gap on Sam and Tinker and from that moment on the motor was finally warmed up. We worked back and forth, and continued to open the gap. Aid Station 4 was almost a ghost town and the Red Bull I was excited to get wasn't there. Fortunately Brandon's parents were there with water, so we filled'er up and took off. At about mile 85 and 5 miles from the aid station 5 I was getting a little sloppy, got a stick in my frame and when I stopped to pull it out, Bishop instantly had a gap on me. I tried to close it, but only watched him pull away. As I came into Station 5 he was just leaving, if I had had any water I might have gone with him but knowing there was a big climb ahead and having been in a waterless situation here before I choose to stop and fill up. It was heart breaking to watch his skinny butt get skinnier as he pulled away over the next couple of miles.
Knowing that there was still a chance of a flat and even more important breaking Chris Eatough's Course record, I kept it pinned for the next ten miles and only lost 5 min to the man from Virginia. And we both beat Eatoughs time with sub 7hr finishes. Plus it was 30 min faster than I'd ever done it before!
Over all I have to say it was a successful day, and the night proved to be a good celebration. Had a drum circle with the MI crowd, Danielle, Paula and Dan. Watched some Keg standing from various angles and rode a really small bike.
Good on ya! to the promoter Chris Scott, my Indy Fab teammates and the whole wide world!
The one on the left doesn't work any more. I was bitching about my Time's then changed the cleats. They don't last forever.