Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cohutta 100 2012

This was a race I was looking forward to all winter long. I was anxious to get back into the 100 mile racing after the big accident at the season finale last year. I put in a lot of work into the off season and I felt ready to go. With Jeremiah Bishop, Justin Lindine, Christian Tanguy, and host of other super strong dudes, I knew this was going to be a tough race, and it was. The new version of the course was epic with over 13,000ft of climbing and added singltrack. I was glad I chose the full suspension bike. My new policy is 100 miles = full suspension… period.

The start was furious right off the gun. We ripped up the opening road climb with a 35 mph bar banging scrum into the singletrack. I tried to be as aggressive as possible without killing anybody, which netted me a top 10 place into the bottleneck. The pace was fast through the singletrack and I worked my way up to the front in the open sections. Later, it was Justin Lindine who pushed the pace on the trail. I hung on for dear life and managed to stay with the lead pack out onto the fire roads where the pace backed off substantially.

The pack grew and grew all the way up to aid 3 at mile 37. I grabbed my bottles and quickly bridged up to the others who had rolled thru the aid station. The pace seemed tame, so I decided to go out on an attack of my own and try to split the group. I soon found myself all alone. The legs were feeling good, so I kept the attack rolling, however, the group chased and quickly brought me back before we reached the top of Patato Patch Mt. Jeremiah put in a dig after aid 4 and split the group a little more before aid 5. Bishop looked really strong.

Rolling into the South loop singletrack, Christian Tanguy pushed the pace and I started to feel my early efforts, but I hung tough and didn’t let Jeremiah and Tanguy get too far. Once back out onto the fire rds, it was down to just the 3 of us as we approached the back side of Potato Patch Mt. I had to let Christian and Jeremiah go as soon as the road turned up. I didn’t seem to have that same snappy power I had the first time up Potato Patch. Lesson learned. Tanguy and Bishop motored away.

I drove on, but the relentless slopes just didn’t seem to give any sort of break. I could see Kevin Carter gaining on me, and soon he caught and passed me. He still looked strong. I had no answer, but to just suffer the best I could to the top. You would turn the corner only to see more upward slope. It was demoralizing. On the descent I chased like crazy. I seemed to have recovered, and was back to putting down the power. I knew Kevin probably wasn’t too far up the road, so that kept me motivated to chase as hard as possible.

Heading through the last aid station, I heard Kevin was close. I buried my head and pushed hard. Next thing I know I’m in some guys front yard and dogs are barking at me. Doh! I turned around, then found myself in another persons front yard with kids in a swimming pool. Double Doh! I finally got myself back onto the course not knowing if anyone had passed me or not. All that hard chasing on the descent was for not. It took the wind out of sails, but I pushed on. The fatigue was really starting to creep in on the final singletrack. My hands and arms were sore. I was happy to see that finish line. 4th! Good nobody passed me during my detour.

It felt great getting back out there on the trails. I love these events. Well I should say I love the first 60 miles of these events. It’s those last 40 that make me question why I do these things. Congrats to everyone who finished, and to those who finished on the podium. If every race is going to be this competitive, it’s going to be a hard season of racing. But it’s that kind of challenge that makes it fun. See you at Syllamo’s!

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