In the spirit of doing all new races this year, Jeff and I drove 12 hours north to race at Lumberjack 100, which takes place near Manistee, Michigan. The drive there was highlighted by a great dinner at Harvest Moon in Ohio (highly recommended), a night at the cheapest hotel in Toledo (highly unrecommended), a stop in Ann Arbour where I happened upon an outside lunch time concert by zz ward (highly recommended) and then we finally made it our airbnb on Harper Lake about 20 minutes from the race start at the Big M xc ski area.
|Vegetarian dinner at Harvest Moon|
|Weird jacuzzi tub and mirrors in the middle of the dirtiest hotel room|
|ZZ Ward playing in Ann Arbor|
|A view from our airbnb on Harper Lake|
On Friday, we slept in till almost noon, went paddleboarding and kayaking on Haper Lake, which had the clearest water, and we watched turtles go scooting across the lake bottom. We did a short pre-ride of the trails and then had pizza and ice cream and hung out with NUE friends in Manistee.
|Kayaking on Harper Lake|
|Pre-riding the trails|
It rained most of Friday afternoon which was actually a blessing because the trails were super dry with large piles of sand all the corners that chewed up your speed and threatened to wipe out your tires. We were hoping the rain would make the trails more tacky.
|Rainy day ice cream|
The race is a 3 lap race of a 33 mile course that is almost entirely carpet trail singletrack. It is fast, flowy, weaving trails through the trees. There are some short punchy climbs with the majority of the hills in the last 5 miles of the lap. There is no sustained climbing or descending and no time when you can turn off your brain and just chill on a gravel road. The second you stop concentrating, you will clip a handlebar on a tree or wipe out around a corner. I did that twice and have a huge bruise on my left leg from hitting the ground hard. There are no long descents for recovery. It is pedal pedal pedal until the end.
Jeff and I woke up at 4:45 on race morning, drank some coffee, ate some cliff bars, drove over to the race start and set up our cooler with extra water and Gatorade under Brad's tent, which he let us share with him.
|Pre-race coffee motivation|
Race start was at 7 down a straight road followed by a bottleneck into the 1st singletrack section. I had a good start, and I knew I was going to have to go out fast to stay ahead of Chase who won this race last year. The first 8-10 miles of the course was just a single file line of riders in front and behind me, and I worked hard to hold my position.
I finished lap 1 and was definitely feeling the effort which was not a good sign given I had 2 more laps to go. I was using a camel pack and my plan was to only stop once to get more water so I rolled through the tent without stopping. I decided I would have to slow down the pace. I passed Anthony at the start of lap 2 who was suffering more than I was. I tried to focus on eating my Huma gels, drinking Gatorade, holding speed through the corners and spinning up the hills to let my legs recover. I was feeling a little nauseous and was also getting nervous about holding my lead.
Miraculously, about halfway through the second lap, something flipped. I have no idea what but it was like my body kicked into endurance mode and remembered how to race 100 miles. I was happy, my legs felt good, I no longer felt sick, and I knew I would have no trouble finishing the race strong.
I started attacking again and caught up to Peyton on his ss. I followed him into the start/finish at the end of lap 2, quickly switched camel packs and took off to catch back up to him and start lap 3. I was still feeling great and managed to catch up to Jeff Rupnow and followed his wheel through the trees towards the end of lap 2 and traded pulls on the fire road leading into the last 5 miles of singletrack. He pulled ahead and finished a few minutes ahead of me and I came in at 7:23 and won the race in the women's open. Jeff also had a strong finish in sub 8 hours and was really happy with his time.
|Finishing behind Jeff. Photo from Rob Meendering|
We hung out at the race finish nursing sore legs and sore butts and then finished the day with some beer and mead and paddleboards back at the lake. It was a great race, really fun trails, great atmosphere, wonderful volunteers, and pretty cool area of the country I have never been to before. Definitely a race I would recommend doing!
|Happy at the finish!|
|Post race lake relaxation|