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Downtown Temple,NH

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hampshire 100 (Shorty Race)

I headed back to Greenfield NH this past weekend for my 2nd attempt at the Hampshire 100, a challenging 100k single loop mountain bike race. This was my first ever mountain bike race last year, and surprisingly, I managed a 3rd place finish in the Novice VET II class.  My goal this year was to break 8hrs (last year's time was 8:26). Training doesn't creep into my mountain biking routine so the only thing that would make me faster would be riding harder, longer. Simple enough.

This year they also included a 100 mile option (no thanks!), which included a lot of pro's from all over the country. I stuck with the 64 mile option (and they call it the short race?) This race probably doubled in size (entries) from last year, and had over 400 riders on the line for the 6:45am start. They started us in waves (fastest to slowest basically), with the Novice class starting last. The waves were only 1 min apart so it was enough to spread things out but short enough so you could actually catch the tail end of the previous wave if you pedaled real hard!
Waiting for our wave to start
We had absolutely PERFECT weather (near 50 at the start, warming to mid 70's near the end) but there had been some serious rain in the days leading up so there was mud and water out there. I love how this race starts, mostly on dirt roads (downhill) for the first 5 miles, then a mix of trails with minimal climbing for the next 10 before reaching the first real aid station. It gives you plenty of time to warm up and get all that adrenaline out (fast riding). Some new (freshly cut) single track was added around Crotched Mt Ski area which was pretty sweet! I reached aid station #2 in 1hr 24min (16.25m).

My least favorite section was the 5 miles of perfectly flat rail trail between miles 16 and 21. Awful. To add to the misery was a section called the 'beach', a 1-2 mile section of loose sand that drained the energy out of your legs. To add to the joy, some clown drafted me the entire length of trail, staying right on my wheel all 5 miles. I switched sides, slowed, sped up, did everything but stop. Not once did he offer to pull. Whatever. Drafted the novice, must be proud.
The course
Around mile 21 we hit the first significant climb, a ridiculously steep climb up Hedgehog Mt Rd. As with most climbs, they were not only steep but a lot of times fairly technical (loose, rocky, etc..). I tried to ride this climb, and might have cleaned it but there were too many riders (aka walkers) on the trail, and too dug up with cleat marks and loose rocks. I ended up walking the middle section before jumping back on and riding to the top. For whatever reason, my climbing was 10x better than last year. I'm not really any faster, but definitely much stronger.
Somewhere between Hedgehog and the Powerlines
The next major climb would be in just a few miles, a section called the powerlines (mostly because the trail goes up the powerlines, duh). A few short, steep punchy climbs, a few real muddy sections and a steep section near the top that I have never seen anyone ride. I rode what I could, but walked a good deal on this part. I wasn't alone (see pic).
Near the top of the Powerline Climb
A steep technical downhill followed the powerline climb, with more freshly cut single track added just prior to aid station #3 (25.86m, 2hr 30min). At most of the aid stations, I usually just topped off my 40oz Camelback, took 2 Endurolyte pills, had some Coke and was off (1-2 minutes).

The next 25+ miles were definitely the hardest, most challenging part of the course. This section was a grind with lots of climbs, lots of technical stuff, and generally fairly slow riding. It's hard on the bike and harder on the body. Aid station #4 was a long 15.46 mile ride from the previous aid station, and took nearly 2hrs to reach (41.32m 4hr 27min).
2' deep puddle around mile 50
They made some changes over last year with the aid stations, adding a new one after #4. This section was the slowest part of the course all day so it was a welcomed change. Rolled in to aid station #5 (48.18m 5hr 34min), repeated my routine from previous stops and off I went. Ugh, getting tired but thankfully no cramping. My last stop would be aid station #6 (53.63m 6hr 26min) for about a minute. It was probably the first time I looked at my watch and started thinking about whether I could actually break 8hrs or not. I remembered from last year that part of the last 10 miles was pretty tough, with a long, rocky climb followed by a steep rocky descent. I roughly remembered the last 4-5 miles being mostly single track with a gradual downhill ride to the finish. They may have added a little more single track at the end but it generally seemed the same as last year.

I passed another rider in the last mile or so (even though I was trying not too). I was riding the climbs and he was walking them so it was hard to avoid. However, I really didn't want to pass anyone in the last mile of a nearly 8hr day so I told him I'd wait for him and he could finish first. He seemed generally grateful and honestly, it didn't really change anything. He was in a different class (starting before me) so technically I was still in front of him even though I was behind him (make sense?). It was all good at the end, and I finished right behind him.
64.45 miles in 7hr 53min, good enough for 2nd in the Novice Vet  II class. It was a tough day of riding but I had such a great time. Love this race!

For the second weekend in a row, I had to strip my bike down to its bones to clean the mud and dirt out of every nook and cranny. My clean bike is now hanging out in my shed, taking a break while I do a little running over the next few weeks. Reach the Beach is up next (Sept 14-15).
Trek bones

1 comment:

AmyC @ running escapades said...

That is some intense biking! I have trouble just riding around on the roads ;) Congrats on your great finish!
I'm running RTB too. My first relay on Team One Track Minded. Should be an adventure!