Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shenandoah 100: mechanicals, sickness but still a whole lot of fun.

First off, can I say just how amazing it was to see almost 60, yes S.I.X.T.Y, women lined up for the NUE Shenandoah 100 on Sunday! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the results.

But if you want to know more about my SM100 adventure, keep reading…..

Richie Rich, Aaron Synder and I headed down to Virginia on Friday. We were privileged enough to stay at Chris Scott’s Stokesville Lodge, and Matt Ferrari and Mark Drogalis joined us on Saturday. If you ever want to spend sometime in the Shenandoah Valley doing active stuff, I would recommend spending some time there, it is amazing.
Our home for the weekend. Thanks Chris and Misty!
During our warm up on Saturday, I could immediately tell that something wasn’t quite right: my heart rate felt faster than usual, like I was fighting an infection. It was no big surprise as there had been a bug going round my office last week, and when I got news of the little pox, I knew I was doomed. September racing:: Body on the edge of breakdown::High chance of infection.

I woke countless times during Saturday night with a scratchy throat. I wasn’t sweating or feverish, so I prayed my body would hold out enough to get me through 100 miles of racing.
Richie Rich was so pumped to race at 5am on Sunday! Photo: Thom Parsons
In the morning I mentioned my sore throat to the lads. Of course they said I would be fine. Thom offered me a can of Coors Light and a couple of Advil. I necked them down and was good to go (!).
My coors light and advil at 5am. What could go wrong? Photo: Thom Parsons
Necking a can of coors light as I head out the door (!). Photo: Thom Parsons

At the start line I cuddled close to Sue. We climbed the first climb together along with Kathleen. I reached the top without having overexerted myself, one rider back from Kathleen and in a good position for the subsequent road section. However, we hit the first piece of gnarly singletrack and my day was over. Bike mechanical fail. I watched half of the race ride past until the super domestique Richie Rich came passed. I waved him down, and then watched the other half of the field ride past (you think I’m joking!) while he helped fix my issues.

By this point, I was stuck at the back which made the singletrack slow going. There was not much I could do; it wasn't the other riders fault that they positioned themselves in the correct order of the race, and now they had a girl charging them down! Richie gave me a monstrous pull on the first road section, which helped immensely and moved me up the race a bit. I started picking off female riders and talking positively to myself: don’t give up!The day passed with peaks and troughs of soaring heat and torrential rain. My throat started to get scratchy again. All I wanted at the aid stations was more advil!

I passed the point on death climb where I had to abandon last year due to severe back spasms. My goal for the day was completed: defeat those DNF demons!

At Aid station #5 I caught up with Brenda and Lee Simril. I considered finishing the race out with them, but the conditions were getting so miserable I just wanted to finish as quickly as possible. And finish I did.  In 4th place, way slower than I expected, but still happy to have completed the adventure as always. People speculated that I had dropped out due to such bad luck early on. There was no way that I was going to quit after Richie practically abandoned his race to help me out. Thanks a million Richie! Sue finished 1st, she had an outstanding race. So happy for her and the team!
More than muddy at the finish. Photo: Thom Parsons
At the finish, Aaron told me he had managed to finish 5th in his first NUE race, despite saying he was only going to ride not race! We were all really happy for him. As someone once told me, people who can ride fast for 2 hours, can ride fast for 8 hours. True statement.

SM100 Women's Podium. Photo: Cycling News
So my sickness? In full flight now. This means that I will not be making the trip to Georgia to try and get 3rd place in the NUE series this weekend (not that it was my intention anyway). It’s a hot tea and honey week!

I wish everyone who is heading to the finals the best of luck. It has been such a great year of racing in the NUE!

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