“What gear are you running?” –a question I hate from other single speeders, because no matter what you have to be confident you are ready after months of preparation for the 100 miles of scenic, and hilly, single track in the Manistee National Forest that make up the Lumberjack 100.
“32-17,” I said.
“Me too!” he said. If I were 6’4” and built like him, I would have felt good about this ratio similarity, but this made me not feel so good. I could already feel how difficult the race was going to be with the heat, a day promising to be 90 degrees, and now I had nervousness attacking, along with multiple insects.
Lap 1: Pressure Party
Ralph, Shawn and I decided we would try and ride together, and so we did. Josh and Wade were hoping to go faster, so they started farther ahead. As we rolled out I realized the pressure in my front tire was extremely low. I told myself, “Just make it to the aid station.” In order to do this I had to wobble up the killer hills in the first third of the course, and started doing what I hate most, second guessing my gear ratio.
Finally I came to the sign for the “Monkey Aid Station.” What a brilliant place! Everyone was dressed in hula-wear, and I quickly took some Heed and jerky (my favorite) while my volunteering teammate, Jeremy, pumped my front tire up a bit. Cathy, who was appropriately dressed in a coconut bra and grass skirt, told me she had to get a picture b
ecause I looked great, that was when I looked at others and realized we were all pretty dirty, covered entirely with dust from the course.
Soon I was off, and I caught back up with Ralph and Shawn as they had not stopped at the aid station. We began riding what Shawn dubbed “Party Pace,” three of us team members together (Josh and Wade, who were also racing were partying far ahead). Ralph made sure to say, “Passing on your left buddy,” every once in while because he found out I don’t like this as a girl. I told Shawn I should have Beyonce blaring so others would know to say, “Sister” instead. In turn he began singing “All the Single Speeders,” to the tune of “All the Single Ladies.” Before we knew it we were done with Lap 1.
All three teammates at party pace!
Lap 2: Cramping Questions
As I was headed up those blessed hills of the second lap, they came–CRAMPS! It was extremely early for me to cramp but the exceptionally hot weather made it very likely. I downed water and continued to take electrolyte supplements. I had no one to share this with because I had left behind the partiers in order to avoid such cramping that happens if I stand too long. I was waiting for Ralph to catch up and say, “On your left, buddy.” But this never happened because, yet again, people at the monkey aid station, some in grass skirts appeared and helped me. I was able to refill my bottles and hear another teammate, Marnie, cheer me on.
From there I headed up the next set of hills, working through the pain and playing tag with a couple on a tandem. I would pass them on the uphills and then on longer downhills they would catch me. Second lap done, a little under 6 liters of fluid in, and a total time of a little over six hours.
Lap 3: Raining Single Speeds
Since I was tired and hot, all I could really think about was how joyful I would feel when I saw the aid station again. I went up those first hills yet again with significant pain, in not only my legs, but my arms that I recruited for any extra help. I wasn’t alone, however, as one woman passed me going up a hill, but then immediately cramped too much that she had to stop.
I made it to the aid station again, now Scott and Marnie both helped me where I filled up on Heed, Coca-Cola and a banana that Marnie practically forced on me (in a loving way). As I rode off she said exactly what I needed to hear, “Only 15 more miles!” That sounded easy, but the rest of the course in these dry conditions was becoming more and more sandy. And the dirt continued to cake onto everything.
Then it came: the RAIN! At first it only sprinkled, but then a bit more and I was feeling great. After the worst hill in the several at the end, I heard the guy who I had been riding with for a while say, “Three Single Speeders in a row!” Must be the guy behind me and then the one behind him was a single speed. This made me pick up my pace so as not to look like a wussy single speeder, but an awesome one. I saw the cars through the trees signaling the end of the course. I picked up the pace and finished strong. I looked like most people on the course, covered in mud and beautifully black.
I found out I got 2nd in the Women’s Single Speed division and the entire Founders team finished the race, and finished strong, whether it was “party-pace” or something you would classify as harder. http://www.jhkunnenphoto.com/p237868256/h177aed47#h302ff8d
Wade Bagnall: 8:25:00
Josh Hogeterp: 9:27:59
Danielle Shaver: 9:47:09
Shawn Crowley: 10:33:47