Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lumberjack 100 2011

It's summertime in Northern Michigan... a perfect time and place for a mountain bike race. The sun was out, and temps were mild. I was really looking forward to this years edition of the Lumberjack 100. The competition seems to get tougher each year, as well as the course speeds. We're now racing a full 100 miles, and it's awesome to see everyone upping their game and pushing the sport to new levels.

The rollout in the beginning got going pretty quickly. I found myself burried 20 deep going into the singletrack but I quickly made my way to the front. There were lots of sticks covering the course and I tip toed my way around paranoid one of those bastards would end up in my wheel or drivetrain. I stayed near the front 3 positions most of the first lap and followed Robert "the rabbit" Marion. He kept the pace nice and steady for us as we naviagted the twisty singletrack. For most of the first lap, there was a train of riders. I'm not even sure how far back it went, but all the usual suspects were there, including a few new names which is always welcome.

I blasted through the feed zone and head out for lap two. We all stayed together until Christian put in a long attack on the Road Monkey section, which is a flattish lumpy section of twisty trail that beats riders into submission. I stayed glued to Jeff Schalks wheel and tried to remain as smooth as possible. By the end of Christians attack, it was down to 5 of us, Brent Prenzlow, Jeff Schalk, Christian Tanguy, Derrik Graham, and me. The pace sort of chilled out as Jeff took over for a while.

We blew through the aid station one more time and head out for the 3rd lap. My exchange was so fast thanks to my wife Michelle, and my in-laws, Dan and Sandy, that I found myself with a little gap. Shortly after Jeff and Christian bridged up and the game set match was on. I pulled over and let Christian go by. He immediately upped the pace and we saw Jeff struggling a bit. Christian just kept hammering until it was down to just the two of us heading into road monkey again. I was hanging in there, and the legs were doing it, but it was tough. Christian was on a mission. I stopped for split second to remove a stick in my wheel. I quickly bridged, but I was red lining. Christian kept the hammer down through the twisty trees like a joy stick. I seemed to be OK, but unfortunately you need to steer your bike as well as pedal it in mountain biking and it was right then where I clipped a tree and went down. I knew that it was over.

I quickly recovered and got back on the bike. I kept the pace up and avoided my typical meltdown. I thought for sure I had 2nd wrapped up, then sure enough, Jeff came rolling up on me with about 5 miles to go. Rat farts! I knew I had another battle on my hands. I was pushing the pace on the hills and I was struggling. He actually tangled up with a lapped rider at one point, which enabled me to recover a little bit. It came down to the final climb and Jeff punched it and dropped me, but I still had a little fight left in me. I dug super deep and thought, "if I could just catch him, I'd have a shot for the sprint." But Jeff held me off and we both crossed the line completely smashed and in the red.

I have to admit, I was a little bummed, but I'm happy with the race. I think it was my best NUE performance yet. I've never been able to stay with Jeff to the finish, so I think this was a breakthrough race. I feel like I'm getting more consistant and I've almost got the 100 mile gas tank developed. Congrats to Christain Tanguy for the win, and thanks to all the sponsors that help me out. The Trek 29er ran great! The notubes wheels and tires were the ticket and the SRAM components popped out the shifts flawlessly. Next up is Wilderness101, where I hope to keep the fitness rolling. Thanks for reading.


Brodsky said...

Good job Mike! It sounds like you had a hell of a time and really pushed yourself to the limit. Much respect to you bro!