Monday, July 2, 2012

Wilmington 100 Report

God bless the USA. Living in Ottawa, out of town ride options are plentiful in the Eastern US. Having ridden in the Lake Placid region before on both road and mountain bikes I knew the Wilmington 100 would be a solid ride.

The profile looked on the hard-ish side though the promotion seems to fall into the new fad of misery as fun: "Adirondack Region in Northeastern New York is a recreational paradise of high rocky summits and breathtaking vistas – both of which factor into the sadistic mountain bike". Spartan races, the Tuff Mudder competitions, somehow the more it sucks, the more awesome it is. I find there is a big difference between misery and suffering and its the line between the big ride and the death march. Anyways, looking at the profile, I will spare you the hyperbole, its a 100km, some big climbs, better be in shape!

I politely declined Rob and Dave's offer of a front row spot. I had been out of action for 3 weeks with a bad pulmonary virus and had trained for just a week so I knew an easy start would be key. That said, it is a sizable road section to start and I started way too far back so I had to pass what seemed like a hundred people before I found a group who knew how to ride in a pack.

I tried to go to the spot where matching shorts/jerseys faded to fanny packs.

 The first climb is a staircasing dirt road that is a nice warmup before the next big climb, Jay Mountain I believe. It was a perfect ribbon of fresh tarmac that was several kilometes long with 2 or 3 sections of 15 to 18%. You know, I enjoy climbing with proper gearing but I worried about my colleagues as there seemed to be a few dudes going red real early. If the death march starts at km 30 of 100 yer in trouble. The death march can only begin with (at most!) 20% of the ride left or suffering becomes irredeemable misery. Less than that and misery disappears upon finishing and you think, well that was great, it didn't suck at all! Getting to the rest stop I realized this was a race as people were pretty much doing the musette pass off of food and water with no stop.

The mid way rest spot was manned by a large group of people with developmental disabilities. They were awesome and treated the rest stop handoff like it was an olympic event.
 The course is an out and back with a section of singletrack at the midway point, so on the way back the monster dirt descent became a monster dirt climb. I looked up at a stream of hike a bikers including the guy with Livestrong shorts, 'Dopers Suck' jersey and no hint of irony. I spared any a**hole comments as he was a very nice fellow and seemed near death. I was happy to clear this climb but started to feel 'a bit weird'. As it says, its 54 of 108 km climbing so there was no flat sections and between each descent and climb were lots of little ramps that on a hot hot day take their toll.

Country roads take me home please.

I promised myself I'd ride at photo taking pace. Poor Blackberry, it really is a solid phone with a great camera.

So yeah, death march. It is a bit of an overdramatic metaphor as comparing well off people on expensive bikes to the forced march of prisoners is a bit much. I mean you can always call your wife and promise dinner in Wakefield (done it twice) or even call CAA bike assist. But nontheless, its a sliding scale and after the 3rd climb I felt pretty tired, then a bit weird, and by km 90 a little tingly which I always worry means I am going to have a stroke. I drank a million bottles so dehydration wasn't an issue but at km 90 the death march had begun. Which is ok, the homing beacon was on and I knew the final climb was mostly hike a bike and could easily bypassed by going left insterad of right. Chalking it up to poor course design, I skipped on the loop back around Whiteface and make a detour to Bud Light Lime and roast chicken. Considering my abbreviated training regime, it was 95km enough. Anyways, beautiful course, closed roads, terrific organization and friendly locals out in force. They really should cut out the hike a bike and use the trails on Whiteface but it seems like the Leadville series consider walking your bike to be part of the 'epic' experience whereas I consider it hiking.

A little John Constable in New York state.

Sweet little mountain river
                               Aztek! Lots of camping along the river.

Pastoral scenes and pervert vans

Motos! So pro!

Bikes, well as they say, you 'could' do it on a CX bike, but there are several sections that would suck. I chatted with a guy on a CX bike and he seemed a bit forlorn about his bike choice as he spun out on each dirt climb. I don't mind a 29er on the road at all so to me its a 29er course. Thanks to Rob for helping me set up the Ghost. It rode superbly and this was the ride I had in mind when I got it. Tall Tree colours were a coincidence, please don't sue me.

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