Knowing Chris and what a great coach and disciplined racer he was I, of course, wanted to follow his plans again. I decided to do his 20 week winter training plan to get my base fitness back and then do his 12 week SM100 training plan to get ready for the race. I tried to follow the plans as closely as possible, but with a full time job, 2 kids and the regular crazy day to day life stuff, I can’t say I did it perfectly, but it was as close as I could manage. There were a lot of 430am wake ups with rides in the dark and super early weekend rides to get in the long ones, but still have family time and leaning on Jon a lot to handle the kids, so I could get my rides in.
So finally race weekend was here. I was excited and nervous, but not happy that the weather wasn’t looking good. Jon and I drove down and as we got closer to Stokesville starting hitting the rain. I was really bummed, because I had really wanted all things to be equal to compare how I had done in 2008 to this time. I was hoping the weather, the trails, everything would be similar so I could really see how much time I could shave off (hoping I’d shave something off, because I was 5 years and 2 babies later, so who knew?) Well even without the weather, all things weren’t going to be equal, because the course had changed again this year and with the new trail the course was actually 4 miles longer than it had been in 2008. So I decided to just stop worrying about it all and go ride my bike. When in the last 4 years had I had ALL day to ride my bike?
The wake up call was 5am, by 620am we were staged in our prospective finishing time areas. I chose to line up at 9hr finishing area hoping to get ahead of some of the crowd, because there was always a bunch up once you hit single track. At 630am off we went. The typical accordion back and forth with 600+ people getting going. The race starts on the road a bit and then you take a left and hit the fire road for about a 2 mile climb. Lots of people surging ahead and dropping back and back and forth. I tried to keep a good comfortable climbing pace and not go all out knowing I had 99 more miles to ride. As expected, the course took a left into the single track and this is where it stopped. A lot of very fit riders usually end up in the front and up the climb first and then when it gets technical, they get off their bikes to walk it and it starts the back up. The trail we turned onto was the new trail added to the race. I was afraid we were going to be walking the entire thing, but luckily there were some sections we were able to hop back on and ride, but what was disappointing were these beautiful flat rock table-top like piles that I was forced to walk and would have loved to ride. This trail was AWESOME and had a bit of everything, rocks, roots, TABLE-TOP swoopys (in the race!) and I don’t think I can put into words how crazy fun the descent was. Unfortunately on the descent there was a group of about 5 of us behind a slower descender and no matter how much we whooped and hollered he wouldn’t pull over and let us pass, so the descent could have been even better!
Next was the 5 mile fire road to the Lynn Trail hike a bike. I got in a train of about 5 guys and we flew down the road. The Lynn Trail was a bit emptier then the last time I had done it, so I was able to ride a bit more of it, but its steep and with all the rain this summer and the day before the trails were a bit wet and the rocks and roots were slippery. After getting up to the top, I was ready for a descent and a break. However, this section was new to me and Wolf Ridge does descend but throws in a few climbs and some rocks to keep it interesting. This is where I first passed a girl I knew to be a really fast rider, and I was stoked to see her and get past her when she bobbled a rocky section. After the downhill, you hit the road again for quite a stretch and do a road climb to Aid Station 2 (Aid Station 1 is at the bottom of the first descent and is just water so most people just go by).
If you’ve never experience an SM100 Aid Station, you should do the race just for that. You roll up, they ask you what you need, grab your bike, lube your chain, get your drop bag if you have it at that Aid Station, grab your camelback fill it up, hand you a bottle,etc. You end up standing there, wondering what it is you’re supposed to do as everything is being done for you. Its AMAZING and these are volunteers! Tons of food options, super nice people cheering you on, you end up leaving happy.
After Aid 2, you have a bit of a road climb then small down hill and take a left to climb the infamous Hanky Mountain. Its a long switchbacky kind of climb the first 2 miles, then you take a right at the intersection to continue climbing it. The grade is manageable and I was able to climb it in my middle ring, but after you take that right turn and climb for another few miles there are a couple of pitches at the top that are pretty brutal and you are either in your granny gear or walking some of it. The trails were pretty wet, but so far ok. Probably soft enough in spots to make it just that much more painful. After the Hanky climb is one of my favorite descents. Fun, fast, swoopy and yes, I yelled and hollered and screamed the entire way down with a huge smile on my face. I feel like I could have gone a bit faster, but I was keeping myself in check a bit with the wet roots and rocks, but my tires were feeling pretty grippy and you just can’t help yourself with a descent like that. And the one thing about the SM100, the descents make all the pain in the climbs worth it.
After Dowell’s Draft is Aid 3, where I had a drop bag. Changed into dry gloves, refilled by camelback, grabbed a couple of gels and tried to get out of there as soon as I could. Here you hit the road with traffic for quite a bit. Tried to grab onto a group and draft a bit to save some energy, but still go fast. The girl that I had passed on Wolf Ridge caught up and passed me on the road, but I decided not to chase her down, because I knew what was coming. Off the road you take a right at the Mountain House and hike a bike across the stream and up some steep stone steps. This next climb is a tough one. Its tight bench cut single tack with some rocks and roots and with the trails being wet, made for plenty of slippery mess ups and having to put a foot out, plus its steep. After getting around a couple of people that were not comfortable with the rocky bits and wet roots, I was able to spin out the rest of the climb. This is where I caught up and passed the fast girl again, so I must be doing pretty good? Again, another fun, FAST downhill, and then the MUD. We hit the fields and it was peanut butter! There was a guy behind me and I started laughing and asked him, ‘are you seeing this?!’ as I fishtailed and swerved this way and that in all the mud, he responded his bike was doing the same thing. Made it to Aid 4 and they asked if they could lube my chain, I said ‘Sure, if you can find it’. Jon had put a mud flap on my bike which I was really enjoying at this point. Then I mentally prepared for the next ’18mile climb’.
The 18mi climb is just that, but the first part (11-12mi?) is not totally awful. Pretty manageable grade until you take that wonderful right hand turn and start going up, up, up. I remember being afraid of it the first time I did the SM100 and during it thinking the ‘false flat’ as the call it wasn’t so bad, but this time I kept thinking it didn’t seem as flat as I remembered it! The right hand turn and climb up was as hard as I remembered. Chatted with a few people on the way up. Some I passed, some passed me. One guy said we should be close to Aid 5 because it was supposed to be at mile 75. Our GPS hit 75 and no Aid station in site. This is the climb that I willed myself not to walk the 1st time I had done the SM100 and I was determined not to this time either. Legs were tired, but O-K. Can’t say I was flying up it, but I was still moving. At one point, you actually descend for about 45 seconds, my legs definitely needed that! Finally about 2-3miles later is glorious Aid 5, thank God! I have a drop bag, so grab another pair of dry gloves, doctor up my camel back with my drink mix and get ready for the meadows. The worst thing about the 18mi climb and when you get to Aid 5 is you think you’re done climbing for awhile. Nope.
What an awesome race! Some of the OLV guys came and said they thought I might be top 10. Found out I came in 9th out of almost 60 women starters. WOW! I can’t even describe how amazed I was at my time and that I did so much better than I ever expected. Top 10 at the SM100, really!? It was really satisfying to know that all the effort, all the stupid-early training rides in the dark and long tired days were actually worth it. My bike was great all day, my tires were grippy, my legs were nice to me, I made friends all day long. The trails could have been dryer and if they had, maybe 10-15min even faster? During the race, I think around Aid 5 which isn’t a surprise, I remember thinking that all the training for the race was hard and the race itself was just really long and really hard and that this was probably going to be the last time I do the SM100, that its all just too hard. Then the day after, when Jon and I are driving home, I start cracking up and he asks me what I’m laughing about and I tell him I had just caught myself thinking how the next time I do the SM100, I would do this differently or that differently. So as you can see, no matter how hard it is, there is something about this race that just keeps you coming back. Maybe its the descents or the awesome aid stations or the great after party or the friends you see or the euphoria of having just ridden your bike on fantastic trails ALL DAY LONG, but whatever it is and how ever hard it was you always leave thinking, ‘The next time……’.
Thanks to everyone who came out and supported our first First Saturday group ride and cookout.
The weather couldn’t have been better for such an occasion. Race Pace brought out a fleet of trail bikes for folks to try. We had around 60 people out, including 11 junior riders, and after breaking into several group rides, everyone was treated to some master grillwork and a range of treats courtesy of OLV sponsor Ron Howard & Associates. Topping the list of yummy food was the marinated chicken breasts, the giant grilled portabellos, the box of Krispy Kreme donuts (thanks to whoever brought those) and a good old fashioned pot of homemade baked beans from Todd Skopic. The rides were great but the cookout was the real treat, with conversations ranging to every topic, people enjoying the outdoors and each others’ company, kids running around…it was a blast!
We are hoping to start something of a Patapsco tradition for this ride, with First Saturdays becoming a regular meeting day for a large # of riders who then gather again post-ride for a cookout or get-together of some sort. If everyone who has a good time makes sure to bring one friend to the next one, this thing will be big in no time….
See you in October!
For some reason the women’s field was small, with just 3 of us doing the 40 miler, so the women and single speeders were started together. The start was about 1-2 miles of fire road and then it went right into a loose medium sized rocky descent. Cheryl Sornson was off the front and if you know Cheryl, shes a rock star. I figured I’d finish about 1.5hrs behind her. As we got into the rocky down hill the other girl was in front of me and was riding well, but I felt I could ride the rocky descent a little better so I passed her when there was a spot and tried to get a bit of a gap. After the descent there was an immediate steep climb. After that I don’t really remember much until the last few miles of the race. Just kidding. Sort of.
I tried to keep myself in check because it was going to be a long day. Based on my time at the Maximus, I figured I’d be riding for about 6 hrs. Its hard to keep your heart rate down at Michaux because you’re either climbing or muscling over rocks, which both make your heart rate soar. After the first climb the next few miles had some nice big rocky sections and shorter climbs and then an awesome fast fun downhill. Then at about 12mi the next 4.5mi was a big climb with a few small descents mixed in. This section also included the notorious ‘hike a bike’. Man they weren’t kidding. When I hit it, I had caught up to a guy I knew and he told me we were on the hike a bike section. So we walked up it a bit and then is kind of leveled out and I got back on and thought..that wasn’t ALL that bad, about 50 yards later, I saw why this section was notorious. There was a part that was about 10yards long and you were practically looking for vegetation to hold on to to try and pull yourself and your bike up it. I joked later that we need something like the cart lifter at Wegmans or a ski lift for our bikes, because it was hard enough just to get up it yourself, much less trying to pull or drag your bike up with you.
The next 7 miles were more rocks (lots of rocks!) and some medium climbs and some fire road mixed in which was a nice break. It was during this section that I realized how my triceps hurt from descending and the rock gardens and I think even my kidneys hurt from the constant bouncing over rock gardens. But man oh man was it fun. I tried to keep my speed up on the fire roads and the descents, because I knew the 3rd girl was a strong climber and was expecting her to catch up with me if I didn’t keep up my speed.
Fom about mile 25-29 was the next and last big long climb. It was single track in the woods and was long, but was more or less smooth. At the top was the last aid station, which was a nice treat. They told me I didn’t have far to go, although I knew by my Garmin that really wasn’t the case, but it still energized me and I started pushing harder knowing I was close to the end. Of course, i should have known that ‘not far to go’ at Michaux has a totally different meaning than other places. More smaller to medium power line and field climbs that felt bigger when trying to push tired legs and then the most technical descents and rock gardens in the entire race. At this point the trails were a bit loamy and soft. The descents were steep and the rock gardens had those shark fins or some call them tomb stone types of rocks. Being tired and not knowing the lines, I ended bobbling a lot of them and having to put a foot out or dismount and run through it. I would have loved to have turned around and tried all those again!
At this point I knew I was close, but where was the finish?! I was ready to be done. I was in the awesome piney twisty stuff and was passing some 20 milers that were still making their way and finished the same way the 40 milers did. Finally I saw some light and cars through the trees and speed up and finished in 4:55!! I was PUMPED! Cheryl had finished in 4:10 I think and I was super happy that I was that close to her, expecting at least an hour or more difference.
It was an awesome race and hard! I think I paced myself well, I rode relatively well, my nutrition was good, as I never bonked, and I finished much faster than I had anticipated and I never crashed! That, in itself, makes it successful at Michaux.
5 Things To Consider Before You Line Up at the Patapsco 100
by: Jon Posner
Are you ready? Really ready? Check out these five tips that will help stack the odds in your favor during the inaugural Patapsco 100 MTB race-
Get horizontal and try to stay there. It isn’t enough to just say you will “take it easy” the day before the race. The efforts on this course are frequent and many of the climbs are too steep to remain seated. To bank the energy reserves and be fully rested, consider sitting or lying down as much as possible leading up to the start. Yes it is important to rest the legs, but think about resting your heart too – don’t make it pump that blood all the way up to the top of your body. Sitting and laying down helps lighten the load on your legs and on your heart and preserve strength for when you will need it most during the race.
Inspect all your equipment. There is almost nothing worse than feeling ready, starting well, getting into the groove, and then having to toss in the towel because of a mechanical failure that could have been prevented. Check your tires, including sidewalls, squeeze all your pairs of spokes, give the full length of chain a close look, and have someone who knows what they’re doing run through your brake system and drivetrain. Use PLENTY of chain lube and try to keep your hubs and drivetrain from getting submerged at the river crossings. You don’t necessarily need it to look like it just came from a total major tune up and detail job, but you do need it to do its job flawlessly for a bunch of hours in the woods.
Know your pace and stick to it. By now you have hopefully done some longer rides at effort and you know approximately what your pace will be. It is an easy trap to succumb to at the start of a race when a bunch of folks blast off from the gun, but chasing those fast rabbits too much, too early, can end your day before you reach the finish line. Make a conscious decision not to chase too much beyond your limits. It is a race, and you should push harder than any on any training rides, however keep it in check to make sure you can do the full pull. Riding when you are completely bonked stinks. Racing while completely bonked is worse.
Have a fuel strategy. Know what you will be eating & drinking and when. Take advantage of the aid stations and the volunteers – both exist to support your race and you should use them. Keep your fluid intake high and make sure to keep calories coming in at regular intervals. This sounds like no-brainer stuff, but in the thick of a race, especially one without a lot of “recovery sections” where someone would ordinarily think to eat and drink, it is critical to stay on top of things to avoid getting into a deficit.
Keep it positive and smile. It may sound silly, but smiling has been shown to have physiological benefits, even if you are miserable and just telling yourself to do it. In a study last year published in the journal Psychological Science, test subjects who practiced smiling “recovered from the stressful activities with lower heart rates than participants who held neutral expressions” If you are feeling crushed or blown up, take a few moments to reflect on all of the training and preparations you made for this race, and smile as you remind yourself that you are spending a whole day riding your bike in the woods and it really doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.
Good luck everyone and wishing a safe and successful event to all !!!
How would you like to be a part of the inaugural Patapsco 100 mountain bike race happening on July 7th?
Volunteers are needed for this event, and we would love to have you whether you are already an Old Line Velo member or just a fan of mountain biking. Volunteer roles include course marshaling, registration pickup, finish line help, aid station staffing, and some more. If any of these sound like something you could commit a couple of hour long shift to, please contact us right away or go directly to the BikeReg page and register for the race as a volunteer (zero cost). You will be the recipient of a race-shirt and possibly other goodies from the promotors.
As an added incentive, and just to show we are serious, every Old Line Velo club member (remember you can join anytime for $30/year) who also signs up as a volunteer will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to Race Pace Bicycles!!!! It would be like we paid you $20 to join!
Here is the BikeReg page https://www.bikereg.com/Net/18308
If you cant make it to the event but still want to donate click here!
This Saturday, June 8, Our big fundraiser at Canton’s Portside Tavern
Sunday 06/09 9:00 AM Patapsco 100 Trailwork Series – Everyone needs to bring bikes this week, everything is up river, like 2 – 2.5 miles away, still walk-able but way quicker on wheels. And if you have a BOB trailer, bring it!
Date: Sunday 6/09
Pace: Trail work
Difficulty: Trail work
Location: Woodstock Area of Patapsco Valley State Park - CSX parking lot across from the Woodstock Inn - 1415 Woodstock Road Woodstock, MD 21163
Time: 9:00AM – 1:00PM’ish
Ed Dixon and friends ( which now includes you these days! ) have been working very hard in the North, the Patapsco 100 is one of the many many results. We’re fully engaged with making sure the race route is in tip-top shape. This week we’re headed back to Woodstock to work on a couple reroutes, both full bench cut to get the trail sustainable and completely on park land. We need to get all sections as sustainable as possible before the race. The Patapsco 100 Trail Work Series is brought to you by AFC, Old Line Velo and MORE. Work will commence on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month, March thru June. I know it’s a lot. We see all of this as a baby step toward an official Tour de Patapsco Epic. It’s worth it. Bring bikes and BOB trailers, our work sites are more than a mile away from our meeting location ( though hiking in is good too, sometimes I even drag my kids along – on bikes! ). Let me know you’re coming via RSVP in the Calendar entry ( the signup tab should appear just under the ‘Events’ banner ) so I know how many donuts/tools/snacks to bring ( especially if you’re bringing kids, they like to run in packs ). You should bring gloves and sturdy footwear suitable for doing trail work outside, something to drink, a smiling face and your favourite tool. Expect to get dirty and have a ton of fun doing it! There may be a beverage shared after our trail day with lunch over at the Woodstock Inn if there’s interest.
All participants will receive a very nice high-quality Zorrel t-shirt ( so long as you like L, XL or XXL ), a shot at an entry into the race, and a cardo BK-1 Duo system? You have to show up to find out the details!