Wednesday, March 31, 2010

White Mountains 100 (part II)

As I lay in Windy Gap cabin and tried to sleep, I suddenly heard familiar voices. Paul and Shonda had caught up with me. I couldn't have been happier. While I am not necessarily uncomfortable around unfamiliar people, I generally can't act like my full jackass self unless I am around friends. I think I was the one that finally dragged us out of the cabin. Shonda wasn't keen on the night time travel idea, but Paul had seen my light setup and reassured her it would be alright.

Beyond the light of the cabin we were greeted by more overflow and a wonderful rolling romp through the woods. As it turned out the section of trail between Windy Gap and Borealis was by far my favorite. I would have left much earlier if I had known how awesome it was going to be. There was one fairly steep hill, but the entire rest of the section was sloped downhill. I have no idea what the scenery was like, but the trail had plenty of rollers, creek bed drops and sharp turns to keep me entertained. Leaving earlier probably would have allowed us to skip the -20°F hovering on Beaver Creek, but it wasn't something and extra layer and walking couldn't fix. Although I did complain loudly to Paul several times that I was pushing my bike downhill, and that was just plain stupid (secretly my toes were thanking me). The worst part of the section by far was the hill up to the checkpoint cabin. It is probably only twenty feet high, but it is nearly vertical and I ended dragging my bike up it behind me because it was too steep to push.

The race volunteers there were totally on point. Apparently they had dealt with enough completely spent people that they had actually taken over the process of signing in and out of the checkpoint for the racers. Then they fed us and got us something to drink, after which I promptly passed out. I awoke to Shonda and Paul insisting that I get up so we could "get this over with". I believe I begged for five more minutes like a high school kid who just ended summer vacation. I finally sat up in a stupor and began getting dressed rather poorly. John (one of the race volunteers) informed me that I would probably want to finish putting on my pants before I started on my shoes. I looked down to see both shoes mostly on, but only one pant leg on. Shonda summed it up, "Great, they are signing in for you, feeding you, getting you fluids and now they are helping you get dressed." I looked over and spat back my feelings on the matter, "That's what it has come to, yes. And I'm fine with that."

The next morning we finished up the last section of trail at a leisurely pace. There were long downhill sections with overflow that made me a little sad, since they were basically non-shreddable, but it was still nice riding and the weather was clear and sunny if only a little windy. We stopped in at the last unofficial and non-required checkpoint rationalizing that we weren't really tired, but someone was nice enough to have come out, so we should stop in and check it out. It was actually a nice little rest before we tackled the feared Wickersham Wall, then jumped onto the last (and first) six miles of trail again.

Ed (one of the race directors) had warned us that even though we were doing the same section twice, it would seem totally different after ninety-five miles. Although that was sort of true, I had never descended that last hill into the parking lot in full light, and that was a real treat. The trail is closed in by spruce on both sides and in the half light that I was used to seeing it in, the rollers and bumps are hard to see, necessitating some caution. In the full light of day I was able to put together a nice run that bordered on stupid since I was so tired. But since I knew I was about to be completely done, I threw caution to the wind. I blew into the parking lot at high speed, rolled toward the race HQ, locked my rear wheel up and put a foot down as I whipped a one-eighty and set my bike down in a definitive fashion. I was done.

I finally feel like I can say I have been on an epic ride without feeling like the word is getting over used. It's a pretty sweet feeling. Although Paul and I schemed which checkpoint we were going to be running for the 2011 race while walking the Wall, it only took until the next day before I knew for sure I'd be doing it all again next year.

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