A while ago I decided to add Lumberjack 100 to my race list for the season. I haven't done the race before, but I like to add one endurance race to my schedule each year just to test myself.
Brian from the Motor club and I went up Friday before the race, and were settled into the cabin by early afternoon. A quick hour on the bike to wake up the legs, then dinner before turning in for the night, as it would be an early morning.
We were on the road before dawn, spotting several deer on the way to the trailhead. We arrived at 5:20, and began to set up camp. We were pretty well situated, although there were plenty more well-versed groups there with nice camp set-ups.
There was no reason (or motivation) to warm up, so a bit before 7 we hit the road to the starting point, about 1.5 miles away. As we left the camp area, it got cold! It felt like an Iceman start and I was rethinking that warm-up.
By the time we got to the starting line, a huge mass of people had formed. I took the first clear spot I could find, maybe halfway back. At 7 am, we were supposed to go. It seemed we were late getting going, but at 7:04 the surge in front of us began. Maybe it did start on time!
I was immediately separated from Brain worked my way through the crowd as much as possible without burning a match. It felt like I passed 100 people and made it to the end of a large group that was covering the whole road. So I settled in and prepared to turn into the dirt.
There was a bit of a bottleneck, but I didn't come to a complete stop. Onto the trail it was slow going. Conga lines as far as the eye could see. The trail had a lot of dead fall. A LOT of deadfall. I was working my way forward when I could, which usually meant the climbs. At mile 2 I got a nice large stick wrapped into my chain and rear derailleur. It was big enough I immediately pulled off, I didn't want my race to be done before 7:30.
With the stick removed, I had to try and get back on course. I lost every spot I had already gained, and then some. The long lines did give me the opportunity to practice riding my brakes on every downhill. This is a skill I have not worked on much. On the first two track section I laid down a decent effort to get by as many people as possible, and met up with Trevor for the first time. He is one badass singlespeeder and I knew if I hung with him I would have a great race.
Eventually we made t to the area I can only recall as "The pine trees with the blue dots" where I had to shift into the small ring just to keep the cranks turning. It was like 4 MPH and softpedalling for 20 minutes. We reached the aid station, and I pushed past to make up some positions.
Soon it was time for the first Firetower climb. Already riders were doing a death march trudge up the hill, so I threw my bike on my shoulder and ran up in my best CX effort. Making up ~10 more spots, I then blasted down the gravel road on the backside. It was nice for some speed, but the gravel was sketchy.
At the 2 right after, I met with Trev again. This time we hung together as traffic was clearing a bit (except on the climbs). It was around here that I saw Lako for the first time.
We were now through lap 1 of the race. I pulled into the pit for some food, and fresh bottles. I wasn't feeling bad, but knew it was a long way to go.
A few minutes later I head out for lap 2, and Erin, Trev's wife yells that he is 4 minutes up on me. I figured I could work a bit harder on this lap, and possible close the gap a bit. About 16 minutes in I saw Trev coming the other way. That would be the last time I saw hime racing that day.
A bit later I called a pass on a rider and he waved me through just as we were crossing one of the perpendicular road sections. My front got crossed up in the sand, and I flew off the bars into sand with a soft thud. The riders asked if I was Ok, and I told him "Yes, I'm fine. Just go on and I will pass again in a few minutes." I also took this time to make my one and only pee brake until later that evening.
I skipped the aid station again because I was once again caught behind a slower rider, and wanted to make up positions. Up the tower climb again (no running), back down and towards the finish. I think this is where I saw Brad again, and he was just moving his own pace.
Lap 2 was done, and I stopped for more food and a coke. Damn, I forgot to drink one on the first lap.
Heading back out Erin yelled "He is only 10 minutes ahead, you can catch him!" to which I could only laugh. Time for some math, I had to ride 9 more miles before 6 hours elapsed. 9 miles later and I was a couple minutes behind. Next was mid-point before 1:20 into the lap. I worked the best I could, but my body was starting to revolt.
My shoulder and wrists were sore (possible from the crash). I had taken my gloves off on lap 2 as they felt small that day. I pounded my first bottle 20 minutes in, and knew I needed a refill this lap.
I hit the aid station at 1:20, and knew if I could hang on, I could make it, but it would be close. More coke, a banana, and a bottle of water and I was on my way. The water bottle wash was a bonus, and I wished I just buried my face in the fritos bowl.
Things were starting to go downhill, and I was soon unable to drop into the small ring. This was gonna suck.
There were a few climbs left and I wasn't looking forward to the grunt. There was one climb I had to walk (middle of 3 successive I think, pretty steep). All of the other ones were spent shouting "Why won't you fucking shift you piece of shit. Just shift! Are you too good to shift? Do it!" It was no help.
The last sections before the final downhill, and I caught another rider. He wasn't willing to let my by, and the trail was tight. I just sat on his wheel and casually pedaled across the line. 7:57 and change.
My outward goal was 9 hours or less. My private goal was 8 hours. Could I have been faster, perhaps. I enjoyed my brief stops, got to see my wife, and never felt like I was going to break.
The Diesel Motor came through at 8:22. An excellent performance, considering he finished 200 km at Michigan Mountain Mayhem a week before.
After cleaning up a bit, it was time for a burrito, a couple IPAs, and some sitting. We packed up camp as the 11-ish hour riders were coming in, headed back to camp for a shower and more beer (and more food!).
Early in the race I recall thinking "This is great, I should do this every year!" Lap 2 was "I should possibly consider doing this again next year" and lap 3 became "Let's just wait and see".
Excellent event put on by great folks. I expected nothing less.Now I have to figure out just how many days I can sit on the couch before "recovery" just becomes laziness....