2nd Single Speed at Shenandoah and Fools Gold
And finally – my write up on both Shenandoah and the Fools Gold NUE races….
With two races left in the NUE, it was time to concentrate and focus my efforts. What started as experiment back into single speed racing at the beginning of the season started into an obsession, which is what I was hoping for this year as I was in search of something new in my endurance racing. I firmly believe to get any better at anything in general, you have to take yourself outside of your comfort zones every once in awhile. To me, racing on a single speed was 150% outside my comfort zone earlier this year, but to me at this point, I have found that racing single speed allows me to have a much more concentrated effort (either go hard or not) and it also allows me to control my breathing and heart rate a lot more which in years past has lead to some serious issues with sports induced asthma.
So, with two DNF’s, a need to eliminate a 9th place finish from my results should a tie somehow ensue, and a goal of top 3 in the series for single speed overall, I set off with a goal in mind that I had to have my two best results of the season at the last two races.
Shenandoah would be tough – very hilly, very rocky, a lot of fast competition. The long climb starting around mile 65′ish would be a heart breaker for many and if I had anything left, I would need to pour it on and hold it for the next 35 miles.
Fools Gold – last race of the NUE series, one where I traditionally have a decent race at, with no rocks, but lots of single track and a ton of up and downs on wide open jeep trails. It’s the type of course I love as the open climbs go on and on – and being so late in the year, everybody is beat down so my years of racing 24 solo’s come into play as fatigue and mind games come into play.
And with that – the two races would be only 6 days apart. Hmmm. With rough racing time approximately 16′ish hours, that’s still not as bad as a 24 solo race – and with the typical 4 hour Saturday/Sunday ride anyways, it did not seem out of reach.
At least that’s the logic I convinced myself of. I like to think of it as really not a decision – it’s something that you got to do, no matter what. Once you have your goal, that’s it – things become much more simple. It’s the basic premise I used when I trained a lot for 24 solo’s and it worked, so why not go back to what worked in the past – I had strayed from it for quite awhile, now it was time to focus for two weeks.
Friday pre-ride went as normal, but we managed to miss the new section on top of the first major climb – oh well, at least we missed the rain.
If there is one thing I hate about the NUE’s are the early starts – I don’t think any of us can get used to starting at 6:30am.
Gun goes off, and the pain begins. We roll down the road fast, then make a turn onto dirt and onto the climb. Immediately, things start breaking up. Matt and Dan take off, and I see a few others roll with them. It’s the first climb and they are going out hot.
On top of the first climb, we hit the new section of trial which was a nice change from the last little steep pitches of the years past – and the trail on downside was a lot better.
On and on for a few miles, I ride with a few geared riders here and there, but it doesn’t seem like I am catching anybody – and it doesn’t seem like I am getting caught. I hold my own, pedal through a rain storm and push on.
I soon catch another single speed rider, drop him and then pedal on – and he eventually catches back on.
Onto the big climb starting around 65 miles and ending at around 88 miles, I make my move and start pushing the pace. I soon drop the rider I am with and then I catch sight of Dan. Pushing on hard, I soon catch him and press on – later on to find out that he was having some issues with his pedal and knee pain (heal up Dan!).
Wanting to keep the pace up, I fuel up quickly at 75 miles and push on.
Soon Matt is in my sights. Up to the top of the big climb, Matt catches sight of me and takes flight downward. My heart rate would sky rocket as my fully rigid LES soaked up the bumps and I just held on for the ride.
Through the last checkpoint, Matt stops to fuel up and I pedal on in search of one more rider….
But – it was not to be. I held off Matt for 2nd and was only 5 minutes down on first. With objective one of two done, it felt good to get through and have a top finish at what I consider one of the most fun and challenging 100 milers out there.
Now it was time to rest up, fuel up on recovery drinks and vitamins and rest up. I would have to repeat this performance 6 days later.
Hats off to all the finishers – still amazes me that any of us single speed riders finish ahead of geared riders.
FOOLS GOLD 100
And, so 6 days later, down to Georgia. Easy rides and lots of recovery, I hoped my legs were ready.
Gun went off and we rolled out and down some paved roads and onto the dirt covered ones, then the road pitched upward and the leaders took off. I settled in at my own pace, knowing I would need to better my overall standing in the NUE.
Up and up, and about 15 miles in, there appeared to be an odd turn – from what I remembered in the past, we went up the up, but everybody was ripping down it…. But we were all immediately questioning it. Soon, 2 1/2 miles later, AJ and a group of riders turned back up the trail – and then I noticed a pile of ribbons on a chain link fence. It occurred to me that Eddy would never mark something like that so much (there was about 10 markings on it) and that this was not right. Ticked off, I turned back uphill.
Trying to not concentrate on the negative, I pushed on. Soon, I was in a massive group with people in full panic mode. Towards the point where we missed the turn, I pushed on the pedals a little harder to separate myself from the group.
I pedaled on and on, catching more and more riders. The more I rode, the less riders I saw.
After 70 plus more miles, Dwayne eventually catches me on the last big climb on the second loop. The heat was beating down, it was a hike a bike, and I was having a mini melt down.
He went flying by, and then suddenly slowed for me – he was having a melt down of sorts too – cramps.
We would then ride out the remainder of the race together and it was then that I found out that Gerry dropped out and we were sitting in 2/3 in the single speed class.
Through some more single track sections, and out to the road for the last 9 or so miles. We then find out we are both in the top 5 overall, which was super awesome as it meant we were coming home with some overall cash money.
I would finish up overall 4th on the day, 2nd single speed.
Which – very cool thing about the overall was that 3rd, 4th and 5th overall were all single speed riders, which I believe is the most single speeds in the top 5 overall of a NUE to date. Pretty amazing to say the least.
And – my great placing moved me up to 3rd overall in the single speed class for the NUE, which was a huge relief off of my back to pull off two great races so late in the season.
Great way to finish out the 2013 NUE series – now on to cross and thinking about gearing for the 2014 NUE series.