When I turned the calendar to June and saw Lumberjack 100 on the 20th my heart skipped a beat. Here is my recap as best I can remember
|Ready to roll|
Jay was at my house by 7:45 Friday morning. We had taken the day off so we could take our time heading to Manistee. We headed to the hotel first. Surprisingly, we couldn't check in until 4pm. So we gave Brian a call and headed to Big M.
|Limited space in the Hotel room.|
|The goods. The customized number plate was a cool touch|
|Photo courtesy of Jay Bridgeman|
We wanted to do a pre-ride so we could have a small idea of what we were in for. Jay was going to do a whole lap since he wasn't racing. We headed to where Brian and Gwen were camping and then headed over to Big M to see what was going on. Once there, we set up our tent real quick and got some intel from Kris, who had just finished his ride.
First off, this place is beautiful. It was kind of hard to ride and look around...and not die.
So we finally got going. Right out of the parking lot it a long climb. Not steep. Just way longer than anything we have around here in SW Michigan. And that first hill just kept going...and going...and going.
|The first banner|
We made to a sign and turned off to head back. Jay went on to ride the full race course loop. Brian and I worked our way back to the parking lot and ended up with about 6 miles....and a lot of climbing. We headed back to the campground to relax while Jay finished his lap.
Once Jay got back he gave us some intel on the course....and what I was hearing wasn't really positive. I knew what I was in for...but he made it sound worse. At any rate, it was too late now...the race was the next morning. We headed to the hotel and found a place for dinner. Then...straight to bed. We set our alarms for 4:30 am so we could get to Big M in time to have a decent parking spot.
4:30...beep beep beep. Holy hell is it early. Since we had everything ready I headed down to eat some oatmeal for breakfast. Yes, the hotel was serving food at 4:30 in the morning. I ran into Danielle M. and Jill M. as they were eating and getting ready as well. Then, off we went to Big M.
|Brian got a picture of me taking a picture. lol|
|Brian and I at the start. Unfortunately he was in the process of getting a flat and had to stop to swap it out as he rolled into the parking lot. Better there than 10 miles out I suppose.|
Brian and I said our good-byes to the people with us and headed to the start with all of the final "good lucks" and last minute advice of "pace yourselves" and "ride smart". 100 miles.....riding smart is already out of the question. lol. Started seeing a lot of friends at the start. Time to go....I just settled in and was drafting people. Everyone was laughing and chatting on the 1.5ish mile roll to the parking lot. I started all the way at the back because I had planned on 12 hours. We were rolling and finally reached the parking lot. There the mob turned into a single file line and started the grind up the first hill. Slow would be an understatement. Congo line was the best description I have heard. There was a line of riders as far as I could see winding up the first hill and out of sight. Around 5 or 6 miles in the group was finally decimated and sorted out. There were still a lot of people around, just smaller groups.
I started to settle in and find my pace. The miles were ticking away one by one. But where is that aid station? Oh....I am only 9 miles in. Pace? Right around 10mph. Ok. I will take that. Finally the trails flattened out and I was able to use my road training to find a solid pace and get even more comfortable. The terrain is awesome out there in the Manistee National Forest. The trees are amazing. Old growth for sure. My mind is wandering already. I found myself passing a few people and then getting passed by a few more. Eventually there was a group of around 10 of us in a solid line rolling towards the aid station. It was a comfortable pace and it was nice to see where the trail was headed. Finally I saw some decorations hanging in the trees and we were rolling into the aid station. Oranges, bananas, chunk of payday...and go. Only a few people stopped, most kept rolling. There were a handful of people stretched out over a few hundred yards that you would see now and then.
Hills. Did I mention there are hills out there? This guy...not a climber....so I was suffering even on my first lap. Eventually I see a sign pointing up and right. Fire tower climb. You have got to be kidding me. Steep....torn to shit.....lets go. Finally drug my bike to the top and there is a screaming fast downhill gravel section. Finally a fast section. But, there was no relaxing because the gravel was sketchy. So, I enjoyed the short brake and back to the hills. Finally I see the 5 miles to go and I smile. Thinking that I am only 5 miles from the end of the first lap and I have a decent average speed going, I press on. 4, 3, 2, 1, finally I see the tents in team row. I see Walters and he points towards the tent. First lap done in 3:46:37. Not fast....finishing pace!
I roll into camp and the Cannonade Midwest guys clean the leaves from my bike to make sure I don't have any issues. Gwen hands me to full bottles and Jay hands me my full camel. I eat some food as Summer looks on in horror. I was stuffing beef jerky in my mouth and she was mortified. lol. I was hungry. Leave me alone! Then....on to lap 2. Honestly...I don't remember much about lap 2 other than these few things. First thing was the feeling of cramps coming on around 45 miles in. I was not drinking enough so I really started to drink more from the camel to make sure I was getting enough. That was a pain I didn't want to deal with. The more I drank the better I felt. I was still in my comfort zone and had just passed the 5 hour mark when I hear "riders back!" so I moved over. It was the 4 leaders and they were straight up flying. I was riding my pace and they still passed like I was sitting still. Damn. I hear a "thank you" from Jordan and I realize that he is in that group with Tinker. So cool to see those guy in action....demoralizing or not. Anyway, I pressed on knowing some people would be passing. I got to the aid station and loaded up again. Drank a cup of coke and headed out. Half way. I took off again with a positive attitude that I would make the cutoff. That changed about 8 miles later when I started to cramp again. I emptied my camel and saved my last bottle for the final 5 miles of the lap. Pretty uneventful....other than knowing I was going to make the cutoff. I rolled in at 7:44:00 with 16 minutes to spare for the cutoff. I headed to the tent. Gwen handed my full bottles and Tom helped me refill my camel. He was nice and calm. How is the bike? Did you eat? Anything else? Now go. lol. Now go enjoy the last lap. If you start it...you will will finish it. I slammed the rest of the water in the jug and headed out....pretty excited that I was on my last lap....and my chances of finishing were pretty good.
So as I start the third lap I was eating a cliff bar. I had taken two bites and while climbing that first climb I just kept looking at it. My stomach was full from the water, which I deemed more important because of the cramps I was having. I looked at it one last time and the thought of eating it was too much....I threw it out into the woods. By now, the trail was a highway. On our pre-ride you couldn't even see it. Now it was a 14" wide strip of black among the beige and brown of the leaf covered ground. Nobody around. Had not ridden with anybody for a long time. Finally I see a woman churning up the hill in front of me. I get off and walk because there was just no way. I got back on the bike at the top and we start chatting about what we got ourselves into. Joe from CMW catches us as he was sweeping and looking for someone. With his fresh legs he flys up the hill and disappears. I said "he didn't race" and she says "I was gonna say, those are some fresh fucking legs". Ha. We pedaled along and enjoyed the scenery around us. I said the only reason I came back out was for the patch. She didn't know that you got a patch if you finished! She said "there is my incentive to keep going". Eventually we caught another guy and the three of us rode together for a while.
I was finally starting to feel better. Strange that far into a ride, eh...race,....but my legs were feeling better and I was getting excited about finishing. I eventually pulled away on a long flat section and never saw them again. My mind started to wander. I was thinking of my friends that had finished already. I was hoping all my friend made the cutoff. I was really starting to want pizza. The miles ticked away one by one and I was finally saw the decorations for the aid station. The volunteers there were very awesome. "what do you need?" was what they asked as I rolled up. I had them refill my empty bottle (just in case) and I had a few cups of coke along with bananas and oranges and pay days. Cathy was there and was really excited that I was on my last segment of the race! One final push and 17 miles to go.....here we go....
|At the finish (Courtesy of David Frost)|
Honestly, I wasn't feeling bad. I think I was climbing more this lap than I was on the second. I got that second wind and was still riding my comfortable pace. I was slow, sure, but I was moving forward. I had not seen another ride for a long time. I was mid hill walking when I heard a guy coming. I was thinking....really...this far in and someone is catching me? He was a sweeper. He asked how I was doing and I said good. off he went and I started to ride again. Then I see those damn arrows pointing up fire tower climb. Two steps...break. Three steps....break. Now, I am ready to die. I am so tired I can barely get my bike up over the logs. Legs are sliding in the sand because it was so torn up. I just kept telling myself that I had an awesome downhill coming. Finally I made it. That tower is freaking tall...on top of being on a huge hill. Anyway, off I went. Now looking at my Garmin I had less than 10 miles to go. The miles were ticking away. I look again and I am at 94 miles. Then...I pass the 3/4 sign. Huh....that means more like 8 miles to go. Not 6.....DAMMIT. I keep looking for the 5 to go sign and eventually I see it. Awesome, 5 to go.
4, 3,....is that another rider? It is! I see Fred and I get the motivation to reel him in. We rode the last few miles and crossed the finish line together. As I rode under the finish banner I see Michelle and the little girls waiting for me. Such an awesome surprise! Cathy and her grandson head over and give me my finisher patch. I was done. Jay grabbed my bike and I was just trying to soak it all in. So many people were coming up and telling me good job that I don't even know remember who all was there! Very cool feeling. Very big sense of accomplishment.
|Chris and I showing off our dirt tan lines.|
We headed back to the hotel and got cleaned up then headed to dinner. William S., Summer, David W., Lisa P., Brian and Gwen B., Chelle and the girls, Jay and I all sat around the table and talked about the day. All in all.....a great day on the bike.