“What is the Hampshire 100?”
Jesse had been perusing my google race calendar and that entry had apparently set off some alarms. I swear I’d mentioned the event in an earlier conversation. And by mentioned, I mean I probably mumbled something so that the only intelligible words were New Hampshire and bike, and he missed the 100 miles and race part of it.
“Ok that sounds like a good idea.”
So I plunked it on the calendar and we went on to chat about business as usual and his upcoming Tour of Utah. You should read about his recent training and racing here, he has some fantastic insights.
The thing about being coached by a sibling is, he grew up with me. Jesse was there when I hid veggies I didn’t like in my pockets at the dinner table and later flushed them down the toilet. He knows all my tricks and diversion tactics. So the boss quickly ferreted out the full story about the NH100.
“You don’t think it’s a good idea?” I clearly learned less growing up with him because innocent talk certainly doesn’t work.
“Um cross season?”
“Oh yes, that. Wouldn’t 100 miles just be nice long base training?”
A lot of time and energy is saved between siblings without the need for things like positive sandwiches (you know, starting and ending with something positive and putting your rebuke in the middle) and diplomatic explanations. Don’t get me wrong, when needed Jesse will explain the rationale and offer advice, but many times, he knows I know… we can finish each other’s sentences, and usually with a quote from Monty Python.
“Oh um I…look, if we built this large wooden badger…” Which is to say, I was bummed my ambitious but not entirely logical plan had been discovered, but I acquiesced and such flummery was put to an end.
However, I’d already gotten excited to do the event with a few friends who love these 100-milers, so I wasn’t very well going to back out of the whole thing. My friend Jim Mayuric regularly competes in the NUE events and we have a bit of friendly competition going from Hilly Billy, and I’d told him it was on, I’d gotten the go-ahead. Liz Allen was also pleased to know I’d “given in to the crazy side” and registered for one of these epics. So I negotiated Jesse down to the 100k option, which was tolerated with some misgivings and the stipulation: “Take it easy. Save your big bullets for cross season.” At least I could make the event.
Many locals have a temperamental relationship with the Hampshire 100, screaming and berating the race every year, grabbing their stuff and storming off, then buying their way back again for another go the next year.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“It’s a miserable concoction of loamy single track and loose-rock climbs.” This is distressingly true.
“Why do you go back?”
“I don’t know.”
On the other hand, Jim and Liz were both excited for the event, and though I felt a bit sheepish about backing down from the full 100, were very gracious in understanding that I had to be careful this close to cross season. The 100 milers start 2 minutes ahead of the 100k riders, and both groups complete the same 100k loop to begin. Then the 100 milers are cruelly sent out on a second 38 mile loop from there. The carrot would be catching up to friends doing the 100 mile up ahead if I could.
I went up to packet pick-up on Saturday and met up to do some pre-riding with Jim and his friend Rob Spreng who happened to cruise to 2nd place behind someone name Jeremiah Bishop. Then it was time to prepare drop bags with bottles, tubes, CO2, and gels.
Jim also fixed my crooked stem and rotated the handlebars that I had installed upside down.
My friend Sally had graciously offered her home to stay the night before so I would have a shorter drive. Race morning, I left at 5 am to drive to the course, did about 12 minutes of spinning warm-up, and headed to the start. I found Karen Potter and Bryna Blanchard who were also doing the 100k race. Karen is a seasoned 100 miler and excellent descender and technical rider so I knew she would be tough competition. Bryna was coming off a few wins already this season. The 100k field was a bit small, and as we took off in a noisy peloton, Karen pointed out the slower than usual pace. Another woman in blue made some sprightly moves to get to the front of the pack as we approached the first trail section, and I followed suit, perhaps throwing a few cross elbows in the process, as I did not want to get stuck behind traffic in the single track. Out of the single track section, a small lead group formed as we already began to catch 100 mile riders, then up a steep road climb, the top 100k riders attacked and blew the field to bits. At this point, I got some distance from the other women and started to pick off riders when I could, though most of the first hour and a half I spent riding alone except for passing a few 100k runners, yes runners.
Finally, maybe 20 miles in, I ended up riding pace with Roger Masse through the first bag drop station and onward. We’d ridden together at Hilly Billy, so it was nice to see a familiar face and he set a good tempo. The first 20-25 miles sailed by rather quickly in fact, giving me the unwarranted impression that the finish line would spring into view within a reasonable 4:30-4:45 of ride time. But more on that later. We ended up catching up to and joining two other riders, and the three of them began to attack one another around 30 miles in. This was wholly unacceptable to my legs; they threw a giant hissy fit demanding food, drink, and respite. The three riders rode off merrily while I ate a bit extra and pondered another 3 hours in such a state. Finally, I got some legs back and I caught back up to the trio on a long, single track climb. I also caught my teammate Jon Anderson who was having a great ride, and through the trees I caught sight of Jim. Seeing friends was a huge boost and I started to get into a rhythm again. Around 45 miles or so, I began to realize that our pace had all but ground to a halt, and that the changing terrain of axel-deep mud pits, tight loamy single track, and loose gravel climbs was going to make for a total race time closer to 6 hours. Jim and another very chatty rider and I also caught up to Alec Petro who was strong leading the masters race. Jim found this an ideal time to punish my legs for bailing on the 100 miler and he launched some painful attacks up the punchy gravely climbs. Finally, Alec pulled away and I chased after, finally overtaking him in the field shortly before the 100k finish/2nd loop start for the 100 milers. Turns out I finished 2nd overall in the 100k, and won the women’s with Karen Potter claiming 2nd and Bryna Blanchard 3rd. I was the 8th rider through the 100k point, including all of the 100 milers.
Liz took the women’s win in the 100 mile option, and Jim had an incredible race taking his first podium at an NUE placing 5th. My Riverside Racing teammate Matt Merkle took 4th. Overall it was a very successful day.
At the finish, you might expect a scene of gluttony with the klatsch of riders and runners (remember the runners? yeah, the ones who ran 62 miles?) having sweated out six, nine, twelve hours in the woods. However, the seven cakes that were provided for dessert sat untouched for the entire day, with only two or three pieces consumed. But that whole scenario is the topic for another day.
Now, it’s time for having some recovery and getting into some speed stuff for cross. My google calendar is now full of VO2 intervals with no space left to plug in secret races. What can I say, Jesse knows.