Lumberjack-100 Race Report.
Late Saturday night saw a thunderstorm roll through the Manistee National Forest, but no rain touched racers at the 2013 edition of the Lumberjack 100.
I had three tiers of goals for this race: 1. Finish (naturally), 2. Beat my last time of 11hrs:11mins, 3. get closer to 10-1/2 hours if possible
Five a.m. wake-up was the alarm because I decided I wanted to eat at least two hours before the race to give time to digest. I got up and had my hardboiled egg, avocadada and bagel with provolone. I also started the coffee pot for a cup o’ joe, then began gathering my race prep items. Bottles were already and mixed: Heed, Perpetuem (one bottle per lap), a couple Hammergel packs and several containers of Endurolytes.
Temperatures were chilly, so I wore a base layer, arm warmers and leg warmers. I was comfortable in the 48-50 degree breezy weather. It was overcast and I also opted to swap my amber lenses with clear lenses for the race.
Rick’s traditional road roll-out started the event and we rolled into the parking lot and came to a near track stand as the crowd pinched at the entrance to the single track. It would be like this for the next 15-20 miles. Gradually groups would form, short bursts of speed to pass a racer or a couple racers. I was mostly hampered on the tight twisty single-track which suits my skills. At one point a couple less technically capable racers had our whole line come to complete halt as they negotiated a tight turn. I just shook my head and a racer behind me said out loud ” no doubt” as he understood my headshake.
At one point on a shallow climb, I was behind two racers- the lead was a woman and behind her a male racer. Weaving through the trees, braking hard on corners, I finally saw a widened area and called out “on your left” and made my move to pass both of them. As I passed, it narrowed a bit and the male racer griped “I’ve been waiting for a while not to pass, but just go ahead and muscle your way in there, that’s one way to do it.” I told him sorry, but if he was going to pass and called it out I would have waited. He wasn’t that good in the technical sections either so I was happy to pass him at that point anyway and I rode away from both of them.
The first lap went smoothly despite the traffic and upon reaching the timing mats I was a bit surprised to see the clock showed 2:56! I’d done the lap in under three hours?! WOW. I knew I felt good but didn’t realize how well I’d been riding. I now felt I had my third goal of 10-1/2 hours a strong possibility. A quick bottle change at the team tent and out for a hard charge at lap two. I also removed the base layer and the arm and leg warmers. I thought at first I regretted it as I rode out onto lap two but by 1030am it really started heating up. The warmest part of the day was between 1030am and 200pm, it seemed. The sky had cleared. Later it would cloud over again and wouldn’t seem so warm.
Lap two proved to be eventful as I rode fairly aggressively. Two crashes due to soft sand on corners, two more crashes within 100 yards of each other clipping trees in the pines as I took in Endurolytes and Heed, and finally on hard crash on my same sore left ribs trying to pass another rider. I was passing him on the rough portion of a wide section of the trail when a bee flew into the side of my helmet amd riding glasses. I reached up to brush him out when the wheel must have hit a loose stick or such, WHAM! hard down the ribs followed by sailor talk. Another racer stopped to see if I was okay and picked up my bike. I held the handlebars and stretched my ribs out. Then on the bike and back at it. I also lost my spare bottle of heed on the second lap. I normally tie in the bottle on the bottom cage because it has tendency to bounce out on rough terrain and crashes but I forgot to do so this day. So by the time I was 5-6 miles out from the lap finish, I was out of Heed and getting a bit thirsty. Oh well, nothing for it but to reach the tent.
I reached the timing mats and looked at the clock which read 6:07. WOW- Okay I was still close to a three hour per lap cycle! I was exceeding my own expectations! Now my mind said a 9-1/2 hour race was possible.
Into the team tent, new bottle of Perpetuem, two new Heed bottles (BOTH of which went into the jersey rather than the bottle cage) and fresh containers of Endurolytes. I quickly ran some T-9 onto my chain. I also cleared my computer. I had already calculated in my head that if I did 10mph the last lap I had approximately a 9-1/2 hour finish time. I wanted not confusion as I watched my metrics on the computer. I wanted only to watch that lap of 33 miles. Onward.
Lap three definitely felt slower. But I kept my eye on my average speed. When it dipped below 10mph, usually do to a significant amount of climbing, I rampoed up my pace on flats and downwhills. But I also rode a bit more conservatively and avoided any crashes this lap. From about miles 9-14, one woman racer in a black kit would reach me on the climbs, but as we would crest the hill, I would charge off and speed down the next downhill. This went on for a couple cycles and eventually she passed me and said I’d probably catch her later. I told her it depended on how far ahead she got. Sure enough, as soon as the course turned to twisting and up&down singletrack weaving through the trees, I did indeed catch up to her. She asked if I wanted to pass but as were about a mile from the mid-point aid station, I said I planned to stop anyway. The pirate flags were a welcomed sight and we arrived at the support table manned by all the great volunteers: Cathy Plite, Scott & Marnie Tencate, John Haffedon, Kevin Allen and his son and others.
By now I was rather sick of the Heed and dumped one bottle and had it filled with just water. I took a couple of Endolytes and shot down three dixie cups of Coca-Cola- that hit the spot. A bite of orange and off to complete the lap with about 16 miles to go.
I rode all the hills on the first lap, walked a couple on the second and walked even a couple more on the third but still was able to gut it out on most of them even as I neared the finish. Riding the last big hill, my incentive was that screaming fast down hill in the big ring which then bends and takes you to a shallow climb single track when you are about two miles out. I shot onto the single track while dropping from the big ring to middle, and motored along the undulating benchcut, keeping my speed up. Down onto the flat section, back in the big ring and pushing hard around the curves and through the last bit of sand, I turned right onto the last straigh-away and could see the clock and spectators, and I sprinted hard to have a strong finish and as I reached the timing mats the clock said 9:33 ! I shot straight through and out onto the paved parking lot and Udell Hills Road and pedaled easy to wind down. Only then did I realize I missed the turn to get my Lumberjack finish patch, so I rode back to the finish line (I was already past the timing mats) and the Kenda arch to get my patch.
I’d used my bike’s features as efficiently as possible, which I’d done at Fort Custer and Hanson Hills, locking out the front fork on flats and climbs to maximize my power output and not lose power to the shocks. I actually had more fuel than normal, but figured that I am actually riding more efficiently so the fuel set up for my rides of the last two years was actually more than needed.
In the end I had a 9:33 finish time. Lap times were 2:55, 3:12, and 3:26 respectively. I ws 22nd of 55 racers in Master’s Men category.