July 27, 2012

High Cascade 100 - Perpetual Forward Motion.

Photo: Oregon Velo
There is something that happens to your brain when you are in race mode.  You lose track of time, and of distance, and the thoughts that would normally be fluttering through your mind. 

Focus comes and the miles tick by.  The hills are climbed, the descents celebrated and your stash of gels move from right jersey pocket to left jersey pocket as, one by one, they are consumed, not always willingly.

When you race a 100 miles on a mountain bike, the hours disappear.  Four 4 hours in, you still have a long way to go – but at the time, you don’t think about that.  The only task at hand is to keep riding hard, in order to catch the girl in front of you. You catch her on the climbs, only to see her disappear on the descents.  You catch her again, to her surprise, at the top of a small climb – she again takes off.  This is at mile 65. 

For the next 35 miles, you keep pressing on, charging as hard as your legs will allow, knowing you will be riding your bike for about nine hours. 

You keep to your hydration plan and stay focused. 

Perpetual forward motion. 

You feel like you are slowing down, but you can’t give in to negative thoughts.  Anything can happen.  Right around the next bend, you might see her. 

Photo: Oregon Velo
It is hot and the trail is exposed.  The cool morning hours have passed, along with the shadowed covered trail.  Now it is hot.  Keep drinking, keep eating.  Keep moving toward the finish.

With 15 miles to go, you realize that your goal time of 9:45 will be shattered.  You are going to break nine hours.

Heading back to town, on the asphalt, toward the finish, you are digging as deep as you can.  But after 97 miles, the legs will only turn over so fast. 

The last bit of single track, around the corner, the finish line awaits.

You see the girl you were chasing, still bent over her bike.  She was right there. You weren’t that far off.

One minute.  That was the gap.  60 seconds, over the course of eight hours and 52 minutes.  60 seconds.

Second place, by 60 seconds. Only 60 seconds behind Alice. You wanted to win that race, but you’ll take second – and celebrate.  You rode as hard as you could, you challenged when you could and, well, you're getting closer.

Here's CyclingDirts highlight video of the race.

Watch more video of 2012 High Cascades 100 NUE #6 on thom.cyclingdirt.org