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4th SingleSpeed at Wildcat 100

Years back, doing a solo 24 hour scared the hell out of me. Not having much experience, I jumped into the unknown, excited at what was to come.

Those days are gone and past, I’ve done my share of 24 solo’s, 12 hours and 100 mile events. The next thing to conquer was a 100 mile single speed race, which to me still seems a bit silly.

So – off to get the monkey off my back for a broken chain at cohutta and out to new york for the wildcat. A new event to the NUE, with a couple big climbs and a lot of flat area in between. I opted for the same gearing I ran at Cohutta as the huge climb in the middle and the rollers at the end seemed like it was not a good choice to run a big gear.

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Of course, rain littered the day and made the trails slick. But, on a good side, the temps were somewhat warm.

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Straight out of town at 6:45am and up a gradual climb, I was still with the main pack but I was soon struggling to keep up with them and was spinning like crazy. And – just my luck, nobody else around me.

I settled in my pace, was soon riding single track and soon somehow I got turned around. I could see riders below me, but I turned around anyhow…. Somehow, we came out on track and was still able to see the lead pack on a long rail trail section. They were soon out of sight.

And so it would be, I would be mostly riding by myself for most of the next 20′ish or so miles and then we hit the next single track section where I started making up ground. I caught a few single speed riders and started picking up the pace. With the heart rate a little high, I hit a rock a little too hard and sliced the front tire. Not good. 4 single speed riders pass.

Taking my time to fix it right, I got going in about 5′ish minutes. At least my chain didn’t snap.

I rolled on in no-man’s land, got up and over the big climb not before I turned around again as I was confused by the lack of markings. I got back going again.

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I was making good time, riding consistent, and then I noticed that my rear wheel was not having a good day either – spokes were loosening up. Fearing the worst, I stopped at 50′ish mile aid station and tightened up a few spokes to get me to the finish.

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I rolled on, making a few friends here and there. I caught some glimpses of some really cool areas, especially the one lake area where the “beach” was actually a rock, and the lake was covered with a thick dense fog. It was the kind of scene and area that makes you temporarily forget things for a bit…

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Off into some crazy apple orchard section that seemed to have a little riser after each section and when you got out of the one section of apple trees, you were treated with another. Awesome.

More rail trails came up, but I actually met up with another rider who helped block the wind for a bit. Feeling good and with the rain kicking in, I picked it up a bit to stay warm.

We made into the last few sections of single track and I charged ahead stomping out the gear and unknowingly closing the ground on 4 single speed riders ahead. I soon caught a glimpse, then I caught them. Knowing the end was close, I tromped on the pedals and kept the gear going over. I somehow made up at least 4 spots in the last 8 or so miles.

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At the end of the day, bummed out a bit that I was so close to 3rd, but was pretty happy to end up with a 4th for the day with a few minor mechanicals.

Ernesto out