Sunday, June 21, 2009
The 5th year of the Lumberjack 100 is in the books and I am pleased to be able to report that this year I at least finished the race. If my body worked as well as my Scalpel I would have won instead of finishing seventh in my class. I am very pleased with the bike and the modification of running the slightly larger 650b wheel up front.
Robin, Shari and I left Thursday evening and spent the night at their cottage on Higgins Lake. The next morning we headed up to the race site so that we could arrive early enough to get a prime spot on the course for our pit. Having a good spot makes the lap transitions a lot faster. Shari is a pro at this by now.
After staking our claim we headed over to our rental house, or chalet, that I had reserved. I found the place on the internet and the cost was similar to what we paid last year for a hotel. The chalet had three bedrooms and slept 10. It included 1.5 baths and even had a basement with a garage door where we could bring in our bikes to work on them. In the winter I guess the place is popular for snowmobilers.
We had a bunch of people from the Cycletherapy team coming up to share the place with us so the cost per night was very cheap. It was nice to have a whole house to move around in. The fact that it was only about 4.5 miles from the race was even better. After settling in on Friday I rode over to the race and did a small portion of the course.
Race day morning we got up early to get ready and get over to the race site so we could get a parking spot to unload all of our gear. The heavy overnight rain had pretty much soaked into the sandy soil which was perfect; the day before parts of the course were like riding on a beach. The rain had also left the air very humid, not so great.
My strategy this year was to just finish; I was not too confident in my preparation for this race (almost none) so I wanted to try starting out slow for once. I always say this and then go out too hard, causing me to really slow down by the end of the race.
Once the race started we had about a two mile stretch of blacktop before turning into the trail. I was content to just sit in the middle of the group and take my time. Throughout the first lap I pretty much stayed in whatever group I found myself in and didn't really try to pass. I monitored my heart rate to keep from going too hard. Many times I had to resist the urge to press as I kept thinking I could go faster than I was.
At the end of the first 25 mile lap I was actually having fun and ready to go out for the second lap. I was able to make this lap little faster than the first as there wasn't as much traffic in front of me but I still had to force myself to slow down. I could start to feel a little fatigue at the end of the lap but a third lap was never a doubt.
On the third lap I would start to feel some cramps in my legs as we were now in the middle of the day and the temperature had risen. Fortunately most of the course in in the woods and well shaded. I did walk a hill or two that I had previously ridden on the first two laps. My lap time had slowed to where it equaled the first lap.
I didn't allow myself much time in the pits before heading out for my fourth, and final lap. At this point I was definitely feeling the effort but I was confident I would at least finish. The heat was starting to make me a little dizzy at times and I had to walk a few more hills than before, pausing to let myself cool down. I was so glad to get up the final hill knowing that the last two or three miles were pretty much downhill or level.
I crossed the line with a slower time than two years ago but at least I finished. I didn't think I was even in the top ten, knowing the other competitors in the race. I was surprised that I still ended up seventh but a long way out of first. Every year the 100 milers are attracting more people and better competition. But that's the way national races should be; not just showing up and placing because you finished. It also means I have a lot of work to do if I want to get on the podium again.
It was still a great weekend with good friends and a great trail system. The full suspension bike helped to mitigate any back problems or other discomforts caused by the long time on the bike and bumpy course. I'm not sure what the next race is except we do have another race at Lake Orion High School on June 30.
Thanks again to Robin and Shari for another outstanding race support.
Our primo spot on the course
Our rental chalet for the weekend
The back, complete with deck and gas grill
The living room, plenty of room for everyone to watch satellite TV.