ah, the fools gold 100 - for years i have been wanting to race it and this year all the logistics of work and race schedules aligned and i made my way down with gerry and angry andy gorski.
roughly 12 hours of drive time down, we get there, figure out our game plans, start packing up for the next day and then turn on the weather channel. rain.
hmmm... lot's of rain, climbing, humidity. i wasn't looking forward to it, but i had an odd feeling it was going to roll my way.
rain rolled in late, i slept through it all. fools gold (pyrite) mixed in with the mud like little bits of invisible rocks that slowly eat away at brake pads.
gun went off and somehow i managed to get a good start - gerry lead us out with me directly in tow. the rest of the field strung out behind us.
heads down and drilling it fast up the first climb, the pace got a little hot for me this early in the game and i back off. the rain started and stopped. the lead group would stay within site for the next few miles, then i got within a chase group.
in this group, as the climb continued on, were a few single speed riders and geared riders. they were all pushing hard, i was staying within my limits.
it got hot for awhile, then the rain decided to come back and stay until near the end of the race.
at check point one, i picked up some bottles and my hydration pack and my little pack of riders in the chase group broke apart.
i bombed the downhill, pushed hard through a couple of sections and re-caught them just as we were entering single track. i would catch all of them, pass them and then never see them again.
pedaling on, i was in no-man's land. there seemed to be no riders in front, but i was seeing markers and tracks, so i continued my efforts.
soon, after check point 2 riders were coming back to me as brake pads their brake pads wore down to nothing. still having some pads left, i was catching a lot of guys.
through check point four somebody yelled i was in 21rst place but i was only seeing about 5 tracks ahead of me. i knew i was in roughly 10th spot but was confused to see some of the 50 mile riders cutting the course and heading back home in the same way i was going.
it was around this point that it was obvious my rear pads were going so i did my best to try to stay off the back brakes. swinging in wide and cutting in tight on the clay corners seemed to be working fine to slow me down. doing this in one corner, the clay went from an quarter inch of thickness to over four inches in depth and sent me flying. bike one way, me the other, glasses and two bottles in other directions. your classic yard sale crash.
somehow, unhurt, i pedaled on. with very little front brake and no rear brake left and roughly 8 miles to go on lap one, i decided to race out the lap and then pull the plug on the race. i didn't have spare pads and i was risking life and limb just to get down some of the downhills.
through the next few miles, i could not hear or see a sole rider and as i got near the ranger camp, i knew i was close.
as i came up to the finish line, i was mentally preparing myself for the DNF, but was relieved to hear eddie called the race due to conditions. i am sure a lot racers will debate this call for awhile, but after personally crashing my brains out and hearing about all the other riders out there crashing just as bad (if not worse) due to pad wear, it was the good call.
at the end of the day, 5th overall - my best NUE race for several years. epic to say the very least.