So let us begin our Blogging journey there! LJ is a must hit for me in the future. I rode out to the Upper Peninsula with some great folks. Through the "Midwest;" which is a geographic naming tool for total armpit regions use to attach themselves to places people actually want to go, we enjoyed each other's company and the 13 hour drive flew by over two casual days and a couple good beers. And a lot of beef jerky. LJ is three laps of incredible sandy smooth flowing terrain.
|Motos during my pre-ride|
These races take it out of you deep and so a long period of recovery is necessary. Emily and I set to planning a wedding (ours in case this is your only source of news). And we enjoyed time with our fast growing puppy Pippa the SockSchnauzer and I needed to start job hunting in the Cumberland Gap area of TN where Emily is in PA school for a little while longer. You know, life stuff. In the midst of all this I lost my training partner Daren Cox who moved to Williamsburg and I was feeling a little down. I know I owe some of my success this year to Darren and my commitment to training together this past winter and I will miss him next winter. Williamsburg has acquired two quality individuals in the Cox's. Maybe a training camp is in order!
During this period of rest and recovery I heard some rumblings that the Patapsco 100 was in ink for a second year. Last years Patapsco was a killer I had heard. It was penciled on my calendar but I didn't feel ready for a hundred. On paper it's a "how hard could it be" race. It's in Maryland, it's near the Patapsco river, heck it's all multi-use trail! How hard COULD it be? But I was planning on saving my juice for bigger fish later in the year. I got a call from a friend saying: hey man, you thought about Patapsco? And an offer I couldn't refuse to put together a one man assault on the PTap100 I registered for ss so I wouldn't feel pressure to go too deep and from past racers comments Patapsco has a way of sneaking you into going pretty deep. I was thrilled to crash with Andrew and Charlotte Dunlap who live close by and opened their home in classy fashion. Andrew and I met at Cohutta where he started a great season racing for Rare Disease. Andrew got in from out of town early that morning and then turned around and won the 33 mile option at Patapsco; strong stuff, and I'm thankful for friends like he and Charlotte.
Patapasco is owned by Pat Blair. A strong overall rider with a SM100 SS win and a lot of other notches in his belt. Pat lives close by and spends a lot of his time in Patapsco. His team Adventures for the Cure puts the race on and his win and subsequent course record from last year made him the wheel to watch. He went out hard while RDC's Jesse Kelly and Mad Scientist Kevin Carter and I sat somewhere in the front couple seats settling in. Carter rolled up late but fought to get back to the front quick. When he got in touch with me it was a great time to capitalize on his energy and move upward. And we did. Some touch and go between the three of us over the next several hours left me chasing back up to Pat after Kevin was touching red. I sat with Kevin too long and knew I had some work to do. But work I did. I put on a slightly easier gear for Patapsco because of it's reputation and was able to stay on it through everything very nicely. Patapsco may be in the flatlands but it also has over 15k ft of climbing. And it meant business this was no easy course to chase through but near the end of lap 2 I was nearing Pat. Good news as I knew he and I could put in time on Kevin; who has a way of rallying hard. There's a 300 watts story about Kevin at Cohutta a couple of years ago. Pat and I rode until about a third of the way into lap 3 where I got a little gap climbing up from the river. I hollered to him, leveled for a second to see if he would/could catch on and then left. No favors. At least not in lap 3. Patapsco had fantastic markings and fantastic support. The amateur radio crew AFC had on hand passed race updates so well that folks knew I was coming before I pulled into aid 2. A guy handed me a beer and was kind enough to save the other half for my return when aid 2 was then aid 3. Handups for cross is all fun and games, Handups for Hundos is just nutrition boys and girls!
|upright and steady|
|Credit where credit is due!|
|pleased with myself|
For those of you who dont know Wilderness 101 is a long rocky, bumpy second 50. The first 50 is relatively smooth. but from about mile 40-100 you are bouncing all over, technical skills challenged and pushed pretty hard. This is not the course you want to ride with broken anything, much less anything core/stability oriented. But I did. I rode with Rare Disease' Rob Spreng, who I have come to know and really like through my NUE series this year. But mostly I rode by myself after Rob got away on a descent. It hurt. It hurt extremely bad. I thought it would never end.
|W101 trying to pound me into submission. "Beautiful" Trail, Rothrock State Forest|
Wilderness meant I was back where I wanted to be for the NUE series. 3 wins was enough to get me dang close to an overall series win. At least get me to the finale in contention.
After Wilderness the main even was schedule for August 10th. I am of course referring to the biggest podium of all; My wedding.
Emily and I and our families had an amazing time and were blessed in so many ways. We are very lucky to have the families we do and I am a very lucky man to have married a woman who understands and supports me. Shes the best!
The Pierre's Hole 100 is a race I knew little about. I hadnt planned on doing it so why research it. I knew it was near the Tetons and wasnt a full hundred. Other than that I knew nothing. We did some research last minute, packed the bikes, and prepped for PH100. We arrived a few days early to unpack and settle into the Lodge at Grand Targhee resort where the race was staged. I exchanged emails with AJ Linell (the competition) about where to eat and what to ride, and we enjoyed a day of doing very little resting up for the race.I asked around and people seemed to know who I was, and what I was doing there. AJ lives less than 20 minutes away in Victor Idaho and at a race of 38 people, word gets around. It was hard not to appreciate the scenery on our pre-ride and while we didnt ride hard the altitude didnt seem to be too affective on us.
|Go time at PH100, look at that itty bitty field!|
|That little tick mark on the top right? It says Nine THOUSAND feet|
|One of the top switchbacks of 38 special. It really is super special. Thats not me, but it was the day of the event, Tetons in the background. Stunning place to suffer!|
And so I rallied a little for my third lap after seeing Emily in the pit. She assured me she was proud of me and knew the kind of suffering I was enduring. But at this point I could still bring home a second place, a paycheck, and some points in the series; although not the points I had wanted. And so I did. I rode the final lap in a gorgeous place and once again took some stock of what I had done so far this season and refocused for the work that would have to take place between now and the end of my season at the Fools Gold 100. This race had defined what needed to be done and would frame the next race in the series and my approach to it.
|Who wears shorts like that anyhow?|
Some days are diamonds, some days are stones they say and Pierre's Hole was bittersweet racing. The journey and my time in Wyoming and Yellowstone National park with Emily was absolutely amazing. We are blessed with amazing friends and amazing support from Blue Ridge Cyclery who helped make the trip happen in some pretty big and exciting ways. We travelled a ton during our brief honeymoon and had a fantastic time doing and seeing things we could not have seen otherwise.
We arrived safely back home, a few Delta Bucks richer due to a voluntary layover in Atlanta and prepared to have all our amazing friends over for the "I Do BBQ" at my parents home in Roanoke. We had folks come from far and wide for it and got to spend a little time with everybody. Thanks to all who came out and thanks to all who made it happen.
After the BBQ Emily and I were very ready to come home. Emily has lived in Cumberland Gap Tn for about a year studying and working towards her PA degree and I would be moving down there to live until she goes on rotations next spring. Even if it would only be for a couple of days I was very happy to be coming home.
Home didnt last long because it was time for the Shenandoah Mountain 100!!! My favorite race of the NUE season, the only race of the series I had prior knowledge of and what was shaping up to be a trial indeed.
You cant say a whole lot more than Team Dicky has already said about Gerry Pflug. Coming off of his win at Hampshire 100 and SS wins early in the year Gerry was in a position to perhaps win the NUE series AGAIN(!!!) if he could win at Shenandoah. He would still have to work at Fools gold but he would go into it matched for 1st. Over my cold dead quads anyhow. And I mean that with every fiber of me. I wanted to win at Shenandoah and I wouldnt be playing around with my day in the forest.
It was a long day, but a great day. And here to tell you about it is ME!
And for now folks its off to get ready for the main event. I will be battling it out with the tall boy AJ Linnell for the NUE title. Its been an incredible season, no question about it and I am stoked to see it still playing it out in epic fashion. After the season and year we have had who knows what remains. La Ruta perhaps, or even a Munga. Its pretty exciting stuff and I wouldn't trade this year so far for the world.