Author Archives: scarkinsmel

The 101, it came, it kicked me in the head and ruined my hands

Just before the ride started

I was hopeful for a good race and had one. I may write a more comprehensive write up in the next couple of days, but for the quick and dirty update here goes.

We were all still hopeful

As I rode out onto the course and up the first few climbs I had hope for a 10:30 finish, and personally I was hoping for a under 12:00 finish, but as fate would have it my body actually felt, might I say it, good. So riding, especially early on was fun and fast and me hopping in groups that would pull me along.

From the top of a climb early on

And to a point this was great, and to a point I decided that I don’t understand why a cyclist would cut you off going into some single track who cannot ride the rocks of State College. Personally I am not great at it, but I am getting a bit better and where this cyclist that cut me off got all pear shaped and in way over the cyclist head the cyclist didn’t hop off and let the faster riders by, the cyclist persisted in forcing those behind to try to avoid hitting the cyclist.

Well, in one of my attempts not to crush this cyclist I rode up a big old rock and came down and freaking pinched my sidewall between two rocks and tore a small hole my tire. Stan’s couldn’t seal it, and try as I might not to think about it and keep riding until I could get off the trail on the tire that was dying I didn’t want to destroy my rim. So I stopped, fixed it, got covered in Stan’s goop and lost my fast train. This was before Aid 2 and now I had to chase down this fast train to get back on the group.

Aid 2! Woohoo! I planned to stop and grab my food and relax for like five minutes and get going again, but the flat ruined that idea. I rolled in, grabbed my drop bag, stuffed in my my jersey and kept going. Being sure we had a good long gravel road climb coming up I planned to grab my food from the bag, put the trash in my camelback and just keep going, until I saw the beer aid station…. Yeah, I wanted a good time at the finish, but I also wanted to have fun, so I stopped and had three beers, watched forty people turn down the beer and look to serious, and then thanked the unnamed people several times and was off again. Wasted 10 minutes or did I?

I caught most of these guys, only a few from this point passed me

After Beer Station I just rode and rode and rode as fast as I could catching folks, saying nice stuff to people about how great they look… they don’t, and I roll into Aid 3. All I remember is Coke and cold water and cold HEED. Two bottles, drop two and move out. I must have left everyone who passed on the beer at the Aid Station wishing they had a beer. It was also at this point I put my camera inside my pack and took only one more picture.

Aid 3 to 4 was uneventful, really. I remember a couple sections of rocky single track, oh yeah, it was the sweet freaking trail that just rolled out in front of me like the most awesome, fun and enjoyable bit of single track I’ve ridden in a long time. It was great. I passed folks on rocky sections, I past folks on the slow climbs I past folks on rocky descents and got dropped down one descent like a chump, but all in all I had a ton of fun. Real life fun, 60 some miles into the race, I was grinning and smiling and truly enjoying myself, then Aid 4 showed up!

The climb right after Aid 4 sucked the life from my will to ride. I walked and walked and walked up that sucker. It was bad. In hindsight maybe I could have ridden more, but at what price? Burning out my legs? Yeah I don’t know. I didn’t ride and I think I lost 15 to 20 minutes with the decision to walk. Bad idea, but still what price would I have paid later? I’ll never know unless I go back next year.

So Aid 4 to 5 had one memorable moment, the descent down Panther Mountain. I don’t curse in my reports often, but if I did, I would have an entire paragraph of words that my mom wouldn’t be proud of to describe that descent. It was bad, it was worse than that, it was AWFUL, and maybe it made the race just hard enough to separate those willing to suffer a bit and push through what isn’t fun and fast to finish a race. The descent was late in the race and really killed the will of a lot of people that I saw at Aid 5.


I was in and out after dropping two bottles and getting two new ones. No stopping for me, it was time to blow out the legs. What followed was worse on my single speed than the descent down Panther Mountain, 4 miles of rails to trails! Sit and spin single speed guy and I did. And I got passed by three people, two I would catch, one would just fly by. I grabbed his wheel right after we got onto a gravel road and followed as fast as I could…. This guy and I wish I had seen his number or something, just pulled me along at an amazingly fast clip for a couple of miles until we hit the last climb. He stood up, shifted to a bigger gear and dropped me like a stone. I felt like a total loser, but pushed through until my legs just didn’t turn over again and I walked very briefly. It was the last steep pitch of the race and I bailed. If I had known where and what was left on the course I would have pushed through the pain, but alas, I had no clue. Oh well, I did walk again.

Dude, where’s the trail?

This was the last bit of trail. I walked, so did everyone else I saw. I feel okay with that. After we left the boulder field we hit some pretty buff single track and I had some rabbits…. two I could see and I chased hard. I had ridden (mostly) 96 or 97 miles and was spinning my single speed at 16-18 miles per hour! I felt great. After I past the first two guys I caught onto another SSer that had passed me early on in the race. He was riding a nice Walt Works and I told him to grab my draft. He said he didn’t have enough left and in hindsight I should have offered water or something, but instead I told him to finish strong and moved out. Then I caught the last rider, a geared woman. As I went by (I would have done this for anyone) I told her to grab my draft and sit in. I would pull her to the finish. I recognized where we were as we had walked Willie there the night before the race and put my head down. The woman held on until we hit the bridge in Coburn. She either gave up or didn’t want to pass me on the way into the finish. Either way she could have dropped had she tried, I was dead on my bike.

So where does that leave me? The Wilderness 101 was fun and really challenging and I finished in 9:48 for fifth in the Clydesdale category. Overall, no clue. Am I happy with the result? No. I could have ridden faster, at least I think I could have and I left a lot of time on the course. I did stop and help a couple of riders and that cost time, but in the long run helping out is a much better idea than leaving someone stranded. Will I go back? Not sure. It isn’t an Iron Mountain 100k which is a must do, but I think I can break 9 hours at the Wilderness 101….

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Part 2

Aid 3 and onto the mid pack!

July 21, 2011 by scarkinsmel

All I see is pain!

I hit Aid 3 feeling just a bit better, but they had Coke and I saw a rider looking so dejected that I was sure she had quit. She had, but it wasn’t her fault, her bike was broken, but it was her look of dejection that forced me to leave without so much as another thought of stopping.

Well walking was going to be something that I knew was going to be required, and knowing that I was prepared for the massively long climb out of Aid 3, but I am not sure what happened, Coke or I was just beginning to feel better, the climb was not so bad. I did hop off and walk for just a minute, but the thought came, why keep anything in reserve? Lets ride everything we can, the day is shot and I am not going to finish any better than last year. My first half of the race had been so bad…

Last good picture of the ride, and yes I looked much worse earlier!

I just rode until I just couldn’t keep the pedals turning over and to be honest, I really didn’t walk all that much. It seemed as if the trails had flattened out a bit and that even when I had to walk, my heart seemed to slow down as it is supposed to do when I was not killing myself turning over the pedals. My legs also seemed to just wake up and realized that after Aid 4 it was (nearly) all downhill! So I rode and kind of jogged and rode and kind of loped along until the descent into Aid 4.

Look into the distance and you should see a rider. I passed him on a descent!

To be honest I descend like a little girl afraid of her own shadow, well that isn’t fair, she would descend faster than me most days, but I had people I had been chasing all day and I could actually feel that I was making time on them. So I just let my brakes go and went for it…. Well as much I felt confident of, at least.

Last year I was cursing the descent into Aid 4, and then the descent to the end of the race, but this day I was wishing for more of descent. I finally felt like everything was working and I was finally passing folks. Mind you, for a better than 45th place, not first or second, but still, small victories. The run into Aid 4 is a bit treacherous and has one very bad corner. I thought I could ride it today, and likely could have, but in a moment of realization, I am not an ace downhiller, I am, at best, competent. So I hopped off the bike walked the crazy corner and jumped over the creek and back onto the bike. Then I saw Aid 4

Aid 4 was a great sight. I still have no idea how long it is to the end of the race, but I knew after this there was more downhill than climbing. I talked with the guys at the Aid station and joked for a minute and had three guys just ride threw the Aid Station without stopping. It was at this point I knew (and I am normally this person) I had victims to pass, I had rabbits to chase and I was positive I could and would catch them. So off I went.

So I picked them off one at a time up the next climb, and then started picking off riders on the slightly (for VA) rocky descents to the short climbs that marks the end of the race. This continued until I realized I was actually on the final descent to the finish. I just let the brakes go and figured I would either catch a few more guys or flat and loose all the places I had gained. As luck would have it I caught three guys for real, actually passing them on the descent and one who was fixing his tire.

The fellow sitting on the table flatted.

I rode with him on and off all day and felt bad for him, but such is riding. So I crossed the line in five minutes more time that last year. I blame the added time on the really bad start, and the fact it wasn’t worse on the really good last 25 miles. Next year? Maybe.

PS: I won the slightly larger than normal folks race. What did I win? The knowledge that among the bigger folks I am not the slowest. The winner beat me by two hours.

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The first half

So just a bit about the Iron Mountain 100K

July 20, 2011 by scarkinsmel

Starting out, I and the people behind me still hopeful for a good race

Last year I had a much better early day and much worse later and this year it was much the opposite. As the race began I felt as if my heart, legs and lungs were all arguing with each other. While my legs felt a bit heavy and just a bit weak the lungs felt really good, and the heart, that thing was just racing from the second I woke up. My heart just didn’t seem to want to get down to a resting rate instead it seemed to racing constantly, and that made for some really hard riding.

After the warmup out to the trail we hit the first climb…. It was more a walk for a mile for me and most of the others at the race, but a few guys insisted of riding and falling over and causing a whole bunch of stop and go walking, which is almost as bad as stop and go traffic. Anyway we get to the top of the hill and I remember this really sketchy descent, but as it had rained the day before, it turned out to be a very fast and very fun descent, until I came up behind a rider who just wasn’t going as fast as I felt I could have. Now I could have been all angry and forced my way by, but we had a long race to go. I just wish everybody had been on the same page about the long race still coming up. Anyway, we all safely got to the bottom then this came up…..

A road

I drafted these guys for a few minutes and then my heart just seemed to start beating at 220 beats per minute, so I had to pull back and slow down just a bit, which was not cool. After a few minutes I turned onto a trail and started to climb. By this time my heart and legs just felt really bad and me riding just turned into me walking and wondering what was wrong. I still don’t know, but at this time in the race I wanted to quit. I told myself at Aid 2 I would quit if my legs didn’t start to feel better and on I trudged.

It was easy, last year!

So I arrived at Aid 2 and grab a couple of bottles ate a whole bag of Twizzlers and took off and was sure that by Aid 3 I would stop if I didn’t start to feel better. So tomorrow I will continue with the saga of my mid pack finish.

My terrible leg


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Apparently even though I write drivel elsewhere….

I haven’t done anything here ever. So here goes a little post so I will no longer not have any posts.

A trail in VA, but very similar to what I rode in Ohio! Good times.

The Mohican 100(K) is the last race I have done, and it went well for 55 miles. The last 7 didn’t. I came through the last aid station in 5th (I believe) place after cruising the course because I didn’t want to blow up and get a really bad time. Once I realized my placing I turned the effort up past 10 and took a wrong turn. Okay, the turn wasn’t marked and I had no idea I had gone the wrong way and as much as I want to blame everyone else (and the race organizer does bear some responsibility) it was ultimately my fault for plowing ahead when I thought I might be going the wrong way. Anyway the last 5 miles of the course (because I rode over 11.5) took me two and a half hours. I went through the last aid station at 5:30 and I finished at 8:14. It was not good.

To add insult to wrong turns, I am listed as a DNF in the official results, likely as they think I didn’t do the entire course and rode the road back to the finish line. Not true, I did the entire stinking course and am still trying to get my 16th place….. it hurts to type that because I think I really could have had a 5th place finish. Oh well, next time.

As for stuff that I use from sponsors, my White Brothers fork worked very well. It kept my face from hitting the dirt and soaked up enough of the bumps so my hands, shoulders and arms felt good at the end of the race. Pactimo shorts kept my rear from any kind of discomfort and looked good as I got lost! Lastly My Stans rims (USA is where I live now but the FRMs are very good too), goop AKA Stan tubeless goop, and tape worked well keeping my tires round and me from having any flats.

I will post a bit more as time allows, and as I feel the need. I miss the Euro scene. With luck I will be back for SiS. Fingers crossed. Ed

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