Tammy asked me how finishing the Tatanka 100 made me feel. This is because I am "Sense of Accomplishment Challenged" (I am sure that it will become a diagnosis and treatable by pharmaceuticals in the very near future) :-)
Well, my answer was that everything else pales in comparison. The athletes that take on these events are my new heroes. Before the Tatanka, 100 was just a number. At this point, I am not sure if I will do another one, but maybe....
How did I feel? I felt AWE!
It transcends a sense of accomplishment.
The race started at 5am. Anybody that knows me, knows that I am not a Morning person. But recently being on the East coast and changing a couple time zones did help, albeit slightly. I slept well and got up ok.
Ryan Heerschap and I were the first ones at Woodle Field for the start. The shear wall of the cliff behind the stadium glowed ominously from the WoodleFfield stadium lights. The neutral roll out from Sturgis, South Dakota, famous for the motorcycle rally, had us pushing about 20 miles per hour. I spun my single gear and drifted back, while up front, Ryan felt like he was already on the rivet. We climbed Bulldog Canyon Road (see us coming back down from our pre-ride in the video below)
I was staying conservative and would ride up onto someone's wheel and many would just let me by, even before I asked..
There was walking involved, particularly the infamous vertical skree climb to switch valleys. I would catch people, only to be dropped later, and catch them again or not.
Endurance sports really are an equalizer between the sexes, six women came in front of me and I was not ashamed to take a draft from one of the ladies. I found out that I walk up hills slower that a lot of people and most gearies walked what I had to walk. And then there was the Mickelson, with my 34 chainring and 20 tooth cog, I could not wait for the incredibly shallow grade of the rail trail to end. I could only manage 10-11 miles an hour. Ryan said they were only doing 12-13, so I did not feel so bad. But I did draft that woman at 12-13 as long as I could; about half a mile total. Then a guy came by at 14 and I could only hold that for about a minute.
I took a little long at the Englewood aid station (last bag drop), almost leaving then deciding to leave my Camelbak and fidgeting with that way too long, a few gearies got in and out faster. I was pleasantly surprised that when the topography turn more jagged I could still climb and was immediately on two that made speedier stops than I. They split and I went right by one gearie and was closing on the next as he caught a third. One caught me back on the, not flat, but still too gradual descent, leading to the final aid station. As I could only coast around 13 mph and could not pedal faster, I ate my molasses cookies. So I only had to take on water. That gearie was trying to get an idea what next lay in store, I just went. Then another gearie, older than me even, pedals past me as I am coasting around 20 mph. He asked "Will this ever end?" I answer, "They tell me it does", then he exclaimed "What! another climb!" I just start pedaling up and past him. There was hill after hill with wicked fast descents after each one. I was making every climb and was in the zone on every descent. Just as I entered the culvert leading back to Woodle Field, I caught up to the woman that towed me for a bit, back on the Mickelson. She was with her SO or husband and teammate. None of us were in the same class and I could not break them up as they crossed the finish line holding hands.
Finishing in 11 hours and 19 minutes. 14th out of 17
So all said, a reasonable first 100 mile mountain bike showing. Particularly since I have hardly trained for even short races. I climbed more in the first 22 miles than I have done on some of my 30 to 40 mile rides this year and twice as much as in the 50 milers and almost exactly twice the duration, from last year. See the Bear Scat Strava Link below. Consider that my average training time has only been 6 hours and 45 minutes and my longest week was 16 hours.
I have done Hillier Than Thou with that much mileage and climbing but that was on the road!