Monday, May 23, 2011

Victoria's 100-race report

I was really excited when I read about the Victoria 100 on cycling news in the early spring. Every year I like to try out a new hundred miler and this one fit into my schedule really well. And even though it was in a different country (Canada), it was a lot closer then many other hundred milers that I've done in the past.

Scott and I spent the majority of the day driving on Saturday. We arrived at the race venue late in the afternoon, registered and then pre-rode the course. Somehow I managed to puncture my tire in the process. Stan's sealed it right up, but after dinner Scott put on a new tire. Such a nice hubby :-)After doing the usual "race prep" it was time for bed. I slept pretty well for the night before a race, but having a wake-up call at 5 a.m. was still brutal. BTW...that's probably my least favorite part of hundred milers. The early starts. I know why it's necessary, but it never seems to get easier.

After a brief riders meeting we lined up and it was time to go. The race was a 2-lap format, and had several different divisions. You could either do the race as a relay, 50 miles or the full hundred. We all started together so there was really no way to tell who I was up against. The promoter sent us out on a small grassy loop to break up the field, but I knew we would enter singletrack soon. My goal was to try and enter it near the front of the pack.

The start was on the neutral side but I was definitely riding slower then I did the previous week at Stony Creek. My legs didn't feel horrible, but at the same time they didn't feel great. Even so I was able to keep the lead guys in sight, and entered the singletrack pretty near the front.

From that point things slowed down dramatically. I have never, ever, EVER gotten off of my bike so much in the first mile as I did that race. I think I was off 5 or 6 times. In a mile!!! There was a nasty muddy walk-up, a few steep short climbs with traffic back-up, and a few trees with rider bobbles. It was not a good feeling to have to get off of a bike so many times during the first mile. I started to panic a bit.

Things started to speed up after the first mile but not that much. The course was almost all really twisty singletrack with short punchy hills that made it really hard to carry much speed. The best way to carry any sort of momentum was to try to remain as smooth as possible and keep a fast cadence. I was racing with my Garmin and realized quickly that I was in for a LONG day in the saddle. There was no way around it.

I was excited when we finally hit doubletrack, but even that wasn't fast. The part of Canada where we were racing has been in the same position as Michigan weather wise. They had a lot of snow this winter, and have been getting a ton of rain this spring. As a result the trail wasn't as packed down as it should have been, and the horses made things seriously bumpy. There were many parts of the doubletrack where I felt like I was going up and down more then forward.

Finally I was done with the first 50 miles. I grabbed a new hydrapak and went out for lap 2. It was slightly easier the second time around because I knew what to expect, but the first mile still seemed to take a million, gazillion years. My legs were feeling better and I passed a few more guys. After that I didn't see anyone else except for volunteers for the remainder of the race. That's a good thing too, because I had one of the clumsiest crashes of my life trying to do a cyclocross dismount over a fallen tree. I'm not sure exactly what happened but one moment I was running and the next moment I was flat on my face.

It started to get a lot warmer during the second lap, and I had to stop at one of the aid stations to refill my hydrapak with water. While the volunteers were filling it I grabbed a peanut butter and banana sandwich and took a few bites. I couldn't eat it all, and I remember looking around for the trash. Since I didn't see anything I put the half-eaten sandwich back on the table with the other sandwiches. At the time it made perfect sense...but I'm wondering if any other rider grabbed it. Ha!

I was never so happy to cross the finish line!!!
Overall the race was really great. The promoter was extremely organized and the trail was marked really well. Looking back I can't remember exactly what was so hard about it, but it was by far one of the hardest hundred milers that I've ever done. Definitely the type of race that make you stronger mentally!

If I could give out two pieces of advice to anyone racing this race in the future they would be:

1. Ride a full-suspension bike. My Ti El Mariachi absorbed a lot of the bumps, but next time I would race on the spearfish.
2. Don't ride with any sort of garmin (it's demoralizing!)

Afterwards we hung out waiting for the awards and I was reminded why I love the endurance scene so much. It's incredibly laid back and the camaraderie can't be beat. There was mucho clapping as each rider crossed the finish line and I noticed that everyone had the same face when crossing the line. No matter how long it takes, the "I'm done" feeling is the greatest!

On our way home Scott asked if I wanted to stop for ice cream. I was shocked (that he didn't automatically know the answer!)

I had the best maple-walnut ice cream of my life!!!
Now it's time to do some serious recovering. This includes paying several visits to Jason. I think I felt my whole back shift during my "running crash."


Matt Spak said...

Congratulations on the race, you'll have to come north for a few more of our races in the future.

Danielle Musto said...

Thanks Matt! It was fun! I hope you are feeling better...