This past weekend, I drove down to Tennessee with Nick White (tattoo guy) to the Cohutta 100. Also in attendance from Team Marty's were Marcin the Machine, the other Marcin (who they call Martin sometimes), and their trusty side-kick Derrick. It was a fine showing for a 12 plus hour's drive.
The Cohutta is a 100 mile mountain bike race located in the smokey mountains of Tennessee with 10,000 feet of climbing for the day. It started out with a 3 mile road climb that took us into about 15 miles of really fun, tight, and twisty single track. From there, the pain began.
I would like to mention that for the first 4 to 5 hours of the race it rained. This resulted in a constant spray of mud into our eyeballs and face which was not pleasent so please keep that in mind as you read.
Anyway, after the single track we had about 70-80 miles of fire road with some really steep and long climbs, and some short and steep climbs. At the end of the course they threw in about 12 more miles of really fun single track which was hard to enjoy after being on the bike for many hours and just wanting to finish at all costs.
This race was the first of the National Ultra Endurance mtb series and as such there were some pretty big names in attendance: Floydd Landis, Chris Eoutough?, Jeff Schlock?, and some other really really fast fellows and ladies. Needless to say, those guys finished in half the time of some of the other racers out on the course. The winning time of 6:45 which beat last year's time by over an hour was by Jeff Schlock (I really have no idea how to spell his last name and I don't feel like looking it up so sorry if you are offended by this blasphemy).
For everyone in attendance from team marty's this was their first 100 mile race (except me). 100 miles on a mountain bike is not something to be taken lightly. All of us had to train quite hard just to be able to finish the race let alone do it with any timing goal. The goal for the first race is always just to finish alive.
Nick did 11:15, and here is his personal disclaimer which is completely accurate as far as I know: He was sick. Not just a little sick, but he was coughing up green stuff the entire way down to the race and I was in the car with him just hoping he wasn't going to pass on his maladies to me. It was a gross trip to be honest. He also had a big problem with his tire. He blew out the side wall of his front tire, had to walk back two miles to the aid station, then he had to duct tape a piece of a tube to the side wall of the tire so that he could put a new tube in the tire. It was a mess, but he persevered, fixed the tire, and rode in like a champ crying and whining the entire way I'm sure. He claims that the tire incident took him about an hour and 15 min. to fix. In theory you could say that he rode the race in 10 hours, but that is not what actually happened. You be the judge.
The three euros (they are Polish and have accents which is funny to me) had their share of problems I'm sure, but I have not heard the entire story so far. Maybe I can get them to write a blog about it. I do know that Marcin the Machine was on oxy cotton the whole time from a back injury from the prior week, and that his knee blew up during the race. I also have heard that their car broke down on the way home in Virginia, but that is another story.
Here are their times: Martin did a 10:46, Derrick did 10:55, and the Machine did 11:56. All very awesome times for their first 100 miler, especially this early in the season.
I know you all are dying to hear my story now after having read all this so here it goes:
Nick and I started in last place because we were a little late, which is typical when you hang out with me. I hammered up the first climb, and latched onto a fast group of guys through the single track which was an important part of my strategy. I rode a bit too fast for the first 30 miles or so and backed off for a while. This was my first race of the season, so I didn't really know how fit I was or what I was capable of doing. My goal was to do the race in 10 hours which is a very respectable time.
After I recovered from going out a bit too hard, I settled into a nice pace and climbed a lot of really long hard climbs trying not to lose too much ground or get passed by too many people which always makes me mad. I latched onto a group of about 4 guys, two of which were on single speeds and were really strong on the climbs. They would drop me on the steep climbs, and I would catch them on the down hills. We went like this for a while until I felt that my tire was getting soft. I stopped on the only flat section of the race (a place where it is nice to ride with someone) and put some air back into my tire hoping that the sealant inside would hold the air in and I wouldn't have to put a new tube in. This worked for about 5 miles and then I had to change the flat. The worst part of the flat repair was that I left my arm warmers on the side of the road.
After riding alone for a really long time, I started to catch up to the people who had passed me while I was fixing my flat which gave me some motivation to keep on keepin' on. When I got to the last aid station, they told me it was only 12 miles to go so I didn't stop and hammered out the last section of single track passing a bunch of guys, including two guys that I had ridden with very early on in the race. I finished strong across the line with a time of 8:53 my fastest ever in a 100 miler. I was very pleased with my performance and also very hungry and tired. I sat around with some of the other very dirty, smelly guys and had a meal. We shared stories and watched others finish, all very happy to be done with a long long day. After Nick finished we got him cleaned up, went to a weird Italian place which was good for Tennessee (maybe it was because we were really really hungry I had liver and onions), got in the car at about 8:30pm and proceeded to drive straight home for 12 hours. We took two hour shifts which worked nicely and my legs still hurt from that drive.
The whole trip was an awesome adventure sans the drive home which of course was Nick's idea because he is a bit crazy, hence the ridiculous tattoos. Thanks for reading, hope it wasn't too boring.