Heading down, we had chances of showers here and there - and during pre-ride, we got hit with some heavy sprinkles and thoughts of pyrite and mud mixing in with my brake pads and eating them slowly away like they did at last years event flashed before me.
Shortly before heading to sleep and a 4AM wake up to eat, I watched a cyclist's most "favorite" of past times when not riding - watching the weather channel and obsessing about the next days venture. Somehow, right before 10pm, a storm that was headed right for us died out and just missed us. Went to bed hoping the same would happen thing would happen again for the mid-day showers that were supposed to hit race day.
Race day comes, a small but stacked field was in place for the 100 mile event. It was surely going to be painful and the temperature was going to be hot.
Race starts off with a neutral start for a bit, then Eddie pulls off and the pace is slowly lifted up. 6 miles to the big climb and all the fast dudes are all there in place...
Up the first climb and immediately the pace is hot and the lead group starts pulling away. I stick with them a bit, but with temps already hitting 80 degrees, the pace blistering and with 94 more miles to go, common sense takes over and I settle in to a nice hard tempo that I can hold.
Up and over the hella long climb, into the single track. I am with a few others for a bit, then I am off on my own in no mans land for a long while, and then I start reeling riders back in.
Up the climb the second time, I reel more riders in but I am not feeling too swell. I switch to just drinking water and backing off on my pace a bit until I start feeling better. Heart rate is good, legs feel awesome - better yet, no asthma issues due to my new meds. Ah, it is so nice to breathe....
Into the last stop on aid 2/3 on my last lap, I get inspired by learning I am sitting in 3rd spot. My stomach is starting to feel a lot better, I am getting nutrition in and I feel great - the temperature is cooling off a bit too, so I up the pace and hope that the darkening skies do not unleash any rain.
Miles are ticking off, pace is going up and I am passing up a lot of 50 mile riders. With about 12 miles to go, all rain hell breaks loose and things start to get sloppy.
I am making a mess of the mud riding, can't see to good and I felt like I was riding too slow - just about then I slid out pretty hard. Hoping that the single track would end around the next corner, I press on.
About 2 miles from the end of the single track, the 4th place rider catches me and flies on by. He's riding the single track well when I am not.
I am soon out of the woods, onto the road back to the finish. I use the last of my water in my bottles to clean off my drive train and pedal on. I look back about 30 times in the last 6 miles to make sure nobody is sneaking up on me.
Would finish up the day 4th with one more 100 miler to go in the NUE series, the Shenandoah.
(PHOTO CREDITS: Dean Thorton, Ryan O'Dell and OutdoorEventPhotos.com)