Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Silly Moe

Again it was one of those moments of "What was I thinking" as I prepared to make the journey to Mountain View Arkansas.  My initial thoughts months ago were how awesome to ride a new 100 mile venue that has 50+ miles of singletrack designated as "epic" by the International Mountain Bike Association..  It also has the backing of Outside Magazine as being one of the "Top 20 Outdoor Destinations".  I'm in baby!  Fast forward to May 11th as trip details were being hashed out.  It takes 17 hours.  Oops, did not think about that long of a drive. Probably should have done it by plane.  Although a totally doable drive, it would not be a leisurely trip considering family and work restraints required a quick swoop in and an even quicker swoop out.  Fortunately I had Jeff along to share the burden of the journey.  Unfortunately during our travels, Jeff suffered a family loss and was unable to share the burden on the way home.  OUCH.  My last NUE turned into a mini stage race and now this NUE was going to be one as well.  Granted I would not be racing my bike on Sunday, but I would be pushing my physical limits to get myself back to PA by Sunday evening.  All said and done it wasn't all that bad.  All is good and I am back safe and sound happy with reflections of the weekend.  Mountain view, Arkansas is a beautiful place and the trails are epic.  It reminded me much of my home trails in Michaux. 

syllamo trail
The only real difference was the limestone that was super slippery when wet.  In Michaux you often find traction on the rocks.  That being said I did have high hopes for a great day out on the trails.  It was definitely a "good" day, but not a great day.  I had a very conservative start and did not seem to have the legs to redline it off the bat.  Once I got going in the single track everything came together and I started feeling more like myself.  It was fun to flow on the trails.  There was lots of momentum to find out there.  Yes, the first 13 miles were a bit slick, but if you played it smart you could get through it with no troubles.  I felt good and I was even smiling.  Then I came across Amanda who had gotten ahead however was now fixing a flat.  One would think to attack.  I'm not sure where my thought process was, but it wasn't on winning at all costs.  The doubt that began to creep into my head couldn't be quieted.  I wanted to stay smooth and smart to avoid blowing up.  I knew that she would definitely be chomping at the bit to catch back up to me.  I wanted to believe that I could stay away.  Sometimes believing in yourself is quite exhausting, my doubt and confidence battled it out.  I decided it was time to stop believing and to start doing.  I just turned off my brain and found joy in riding the trail efficiently and smoothly.  Sure enough, she caught up.  We rode for a bit together then I let her pass.  I was enjoying my ride and having fun regardless of who was in front or behind.  After mile 50 I did get a bit tired while again riding the first section of singletrack we had previously rode at the beginning of the race.  Luckily, it was a bit drier and not as slippery and I was more able to clear some of the tricky sections. 

 Then once I got to the final 13 mile singletrack loop, I found more energy knowing that it was a mainly smooth sail to the finish.  In the end I placed second in a time of 7:50.   The trails of the Syllamo 125K can be classified as punishing, however I found them to be enjoyable and if you can find a balance of finesse and efficiency you and your bike can survive it.  I was definitely tired at the end and my hands hurt a little, but that was about it.  My bike handled perfectly.  I usually race "technical" races with full suspension.  This race I instead rode the stumpjumper 29'r hardtail.  I expected to experience pain all over my body the next day.  My expectations were gladly not met and my bike smoothly rode over the bumpiest of sections.  My only gear issue was some chainsuck as my chain and cogs got covered in mud and water.  Lubing the chain at the aid stations relieved that hassle and allowed me to have a clean race. 

Reading my above words of not being completly spent after the race has led me to many "What ifs"  Such as, "Am I again stuck in my comfort zone.  Could I have pushed harder?"  I do not have answers to those questions.  I am not sure they even need answers.  Gremlins that is what they are.  The past two NUE's had been book ended with many other responsibilities in my life.  Soon I will have a break in my work schedule for about 10 weeks.  Times are a changing and being able to let one part of my brain and physical energy have a break will be extremely welcome.

I will be regrettably missing the most hotly contested women's race at the TSE later this month due to work responsibilities.  Tear it up ladies!!  Next on my ballot is the Mohican 100.  I have always wanted one of those trophies!  No more wanting, it is time to take.


  1. Nice writeup my crazy friend. If you're feeling anything like I felt this past weekend, your body is really tired. Get some quality rest this week so you can start to have solid workouts next week. You'll be ready for Mohican. Looking forward to hangin' and travelin' with you :-)

  2. Looking forward to hangin' and travelin' too.

  3. I can only aspire to be as CRAZY! ;-) good read...:)