Written by Jerome Hughes Monday, 24 August 2015 10:04
Last year I entered my first NH100K. At that point, my longest mountain bike race to date was 50 miles. I enjoyed this jump up to 100K. Last year, the course was very tough as it included a good deal of fresh cut loamy stuff and a ton of mud. This year, the organizers promised a ‘kinder / gentler’ course. While the course was better, Mother Nature cranked up the mercury and delivered temps close to 90, making the exposed parts of the course feel like a scolding griddle.
The NH100 is the 9th stop in the National Ultra Endurance Mountain Bike Race Series. In 2015, I clocked in at 6:54. This year, having better ‘perceived’ fitness and with the course being marketed as ‘easier’ – I came into it thinking close to 6 hours was a decent goal. The weather forecast was calling for hot / humid, so I knew a fast first lap when the temps were low was key.
I arrived early on Saturday and setup camp. Most racers camp out at the event in a large field. The weather was very touch and go that day and the pre-race events (cross, short-track, trail run) the day before had little turnout mostly due to the weather more than anything else. I think I only counted 8 runners in the 5K trail race. The cross race also had very low turnout.
My friend (Todd Anderson) arrived shortly before dark. We completed registration, ensured the rain fly was secure and headed out to a local ‘Italian’ restaurant. Dinner was decent and after a relaxing brew – we were lights out for 9pm – as we had to be up close to 4am. We had a tough time sleeping as the rain was really coming down. I always hate going to sleep listening to pounding rain the night before a mountain bike race.
This was my first race coming back after having knee surgery earlier in the summer. Training had been going well so I had big hopes for the day.
RACE DAY... up / coffee / oatmeal / fruit... got kitted up and managed to get in a brief warm up. Weather was perfect at the start. Calm, 60 degrees. The 100 milers went off first, 1 minute later – the 100K racers and a minute after that, the 50K racers. Todd (closely paired with me in terms of speed) was doing the 50K so I was hoping he might catch me and we could crank out lap 1 together. He was only doing 1 lap so being able to stay with him for ½ would have helped me.
GO! The race started with the usual peloton craziness – everyone hammering down country roads in near darkness trying to ensure they were near the front when the single track started. The pace for the first hour was very high – coming in at 15 mph average. The course did not disappoint. The single track they added was awesome. Some was very difficult (like every good mtb bike race should have). Bridges were everywhere. It was a fun lap – tough, but fun. We were still close to 12-13 mph average after hour 2 ticked by. Cruising into the transition area, I saw Todd running over as I refilled the Camelbak. He had to drop out at mile 7 due to an odd medical / full body cramping thing (he got checked out the next day and turned out to be fine.) Lap 1 was 3:20. I was still sitting strong with the top guys and mentally set 6:45 as a decent goal to shoot for at that point. My Kona Hei Hei performed flawlessly. I love my Kona!
HOT! Lap 2 was tough. I was drinking a ton, but my legs started to cramp near mile 45. I paused, stretched and drank everything I had on me at that point. The cramps went away and I was able to regain some form for the closing 10 miles. My Garmin died at mile 50 so that made the last miles feel even longer as I had no idea how much more I had to go. I managed to pass 2 guys in the last few miles– that felt good.
Lap 2 was slow... I finished with an official time of 7:40 – roughly middle of the pack with the other Experts. I was happy to hear they everyone thought it was a very very tough event –and not just me!
This is a GREAT race! If you are looking for a new challenge to add to your race schedule in 2016 – look no further. It has it all – grassroots, no frills, camping, serious talent, fun course. Having done the Vermont 50 close to 10 times now, I found this course to be a refreshing change. It has a decent amount of climbing (7800’), but much more single track and less road work. I would NOT recommend this event for a newbie as the course is just a tad too technical – especially with the 'no other option' bridges to contend with.
Check out the great video on dirtwire.
There was a decent Bikeman.com showing this year. I noticed Andrew Farrell, Rachel Brown, John Karod and Ben Norris out there – suffering along with me!
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