From the mouth of a novice woman mountain biker: Going into this with 2 major mountain bike races under my belt, I was a still a little nervous for my first 100. I have completed several 100k’s and training road century’s but this was a different kind of beast.
THE WEEK BEFORE
Monday was a 2.5 hour mtb ride, endurance pace, at Cherokee park. Hit the usual 5 mile loop and added another section in to create the 10 mile trail loop.
Tuesday I take off, I like to get the rest day out early. Too close to race day and my legs feel sluggish.
Wednesday I hop on the trainer for efficient work. This is where I use the Zwift pre-made workouts. I choose the “8 wk race day prep, week 8, Day 1”, called Taper Intervals. It’s only 47mins long so to get 1.5 hr, I just do zone 2 to make up the difference.
Thursday I do the “8 wk race day prep, week 8, Day 3”, called Pre-Race Day Spin but I add 45 mins prior to the workout at zone 2.
Friday I spin, play around, but really nothing but check to make sure the bike is shifting properly.
This usually gives me a total of 5 hrs or so before the race. Nothing very intense just enough to keep fitness.
Headed to the Gorge after work, arrived at 5 with plenty of daylight. Picked up my packet at 4 Guys RV Park. Beautiful venue and very easy to find. You can see it right off the expressway. Once at the cabin, it was time to prep. My husband, Chris Shannon, does all of my bike maintenance. He had just put a carbon stem on my bike this week and changed my pedals out to help cut back on weight. So I needed to adjust my seat, seat height, and loosen the pedals. Basically do a bike fit right before the race. Not the best thing to be doing the day before but I think it paid off. The only problem left were the pedals getting stuck on my shoe. Thought he fixed the problem by shaving some shoe away but found out during the race when I toppled over on a steep trail climb. Just could not get my left foot out. Chose my 7 bottles for the race (the clean ones). Put my number plate on my bike, sat my clothes out, made my 500 calorie peanut butter sandwich, got the coffee-maker prepped, and lastly lubed the chain. Ready for race day!!
Red River Gorge MTB 100 Race Report
Filled the bottles with my homemade powder nutrition and water. Placed 2 bottles and a spare tube in one aid bag and 3 bottles in another bag. My plan was to carry 2 bottles at the start, 2 at Aid Station #1, mile 33. Then 3 bottles at Aid Station #3, mile 81. There was plenty of parking at 4 Guys RV Park. Arrived 45 minutes before the race started. Dropped the aid bags off, used the bathroom, and mounted the bike. 48 degrees out, foggy, and still dark, I lined up in the second row with my husband and all our friends. Arm warmers is all the extra you needed that morning.
This was my kind of start, fire truck escort to Nada Tunnel, where the race really started. The fire truck drops you onto Nada Tunnel Rd and you start the race up a 3% 1.8 mile long climb. I saw the leaders make a break and I quickly decided not to hold onto them. Making smart choices early will pay off later. That is one thing I learned the hard way is to pick and choose when to burn a match or two. I burned a match on the other side of Nada Tunnel. I knew that the section coming up was going to be about 13 miles of road and being in a group would be beneficial. The first triumph of the day. Now it was time to settle in and focus on my nutrition. I stared at the time, because I know I need a bottle an hour to be successful. The most important part in endurance racing is NUTRITION. I am still trying to keep that in the forefront.
I did pre-ride 60 miles of the course. Somehow I managed to only pre-ride the road sections. The dirt was more mud which makes for way better pictures. These were old roads made into jeep roads. Steep dirt descents, large rocky climbs, and huge mud bogs. At the beginning of the race I went around them, questioning how deep and if I would get stuck. But by mile 60, I went straight through. I was getting tired. You may say 60 miles of road, this must be easy, but I promise the climbs are no joke. The climbs are steep and most of them are dirt and gravel. The worst part is that the climbs are towards the second half of the race. As far as the singletrack goes, very short section of switchbacks. Just a taste then back onto the gravel.
This course was so much fun. Nothing like I expected, in a good way. It seemed like that for a lot of people, since I saw some cross bikes out there. Who could hate on a course that was full of beautiful scenery, mostly shaded, and plenty of elevation. Ask me in a month if I would do it again. I am a little too sore today to say yes. Thanks you for reading my Red River Gorge MTB 100 Race Report. Hope to see you out there next year. Tentative date: October 13th, 2018.