Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NUE #6, The High Cascades 100

This past weekend I raced in NUE Series Race #6, the High Cascades 100, in Bend, OR. It was my first NUE Race since I had a DNF at the Mohican 100, due a tick bite infection, and I was hoping for a good come-back race. I’ve raced in the HC100 the past two years and have really enjoyed riding the trails in Bend the last two years. The course has changed a  little each time I've done this race, as it did again this year. In previous years, the race was comprised of multiple different loops to complete the 100 mile route.  This year, the course was made into one big epic loop.  The course started in Bend and then climbed all the way up to the base of Mount Bachelor and did a loop around the circumference of the old volcano, before heading back down to the city of Bend on different trails.  I thought it was the best course design ever for the race.  Click here to open a link of the course map.

The weather where I live has been on the hot side of the thermometer this summer, so starting a race at nearly forty degrees at 5:30 AM was a bit shocking to my body. I started the race wearing only a short sleeve jersey and a pair of shorts because I thought it would warm-up a lot quicker than it did. I could not seem to get my body to move very fast with the cold weather, which made the fast start even tougher for me than it usually is. After maneuvering my way around an early crash that bottlenecked the entire field of racers on a steep climb, I found myself riding with two other strong SS riders: Jace and AJ.

Me leading on the "funner" trails with AJ and Jace close behind.
The three of us seemed pretty equally matched until things broke-up a few miles past checkpoint #1. AJ was able to pull away from me and I put a little gap on Jace. AJ seemed to be moving pretty fast, but I didn't put up much of a fight to hang with him because I had never raced against him before and I knew there were a lot of miles ahead. With AJ being out of sight and my small advantage over Jace, I decided to stop and take a leak and make myself more comfortable. As I did this, Jace rode by and then he also disappeared. But, even as I lost sight of Jace, I was still pretty confident that my endurance would help me feel stronger at the end of the race when it mattered more.  Other than two riders being a head of me, I was enjoying my ride because my body and bike felt great. I was happy to be riding on such awesome trails and was also happy to be racing in a 100 miler again. By mile 50 or so, I was able to catch and ride by Jace. He was on the side of the trail and not looking too good from a lack of food or something.  After passing Jace, I kept my eyes on the trail in front of me for a sighting of AJ, but he never came into my view.

Man, these trails are PFUN!
It was starting to warm-up a little as I rode into the checkpoint at Mt Bachelor and onto the Lave Lake loop.  And, with the warmth my legs finally felt like they wanted to move at a faster speed. The Lava Lake loop is the most technical trail of the race. There is rough lava rock scattered all over the trail and one bad move riding through this rock can tear a tire sidewall as quick as a razor blade. For this reason, I picked my lines carefully through this stuff. The last thing I wanted to do at this point in the race was spend time trying to repair a torn tire sidewall. At one of these technical sections, at around mile 60 or so, my eyes were focus on the trail and the rocks that were on it when I was suddenly thrown off my bike to the ground. I wasn't sure what happened, but my chest was in pain. I then looked around the trail and saw I had hit a log with a sharp broken off edge that was pointed directly into the trail. It was marked with some tape, but I never saw it because my eyes were focused on the trail at the time I had hit it.

Once I figured out that I had been jousted off my bike by this log, I was a bit nervous to view the damage to my chest. I wondered for a moment if  I might find a critical puncture wound under my jersey.  Sure enough, I did find a large wound to my chest when I lifted my jersey. Luckily, the log did not pierce me deeply enough to do any major damage.  I couldn’t help but think though about how an inch or so difference may have caused some very severe damage to my body. As I was trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding on my chest, I also noticed that part of the log had splintered off and was  still stuck in the bicep of my arm. This splinter had actually pierced and gone completely through my skin. I decided to pull it out of my arm and when I did, it started bleeding even more. I now had two wounds that needed treatment and I was not close to any assistance or checkpoints.

As I stood there thinking about what I should do next, a recreational mtb rider came upon me and asked if I was okay. I told her that I had crashed and needed help. She then stopped and pulled out this totally stocked first aid kit with Neosporin, a huge bandage for my chest, and medical tape for the wound on my arm. I’m not sure who this lady was, but I am very thankful she came upon me when she did. It was almost like she was my guardian angel following me for the day or something.

After the repair to my body, I was able to start racing again. I can’t say my head was totally into the game because I was still in a little in shock about how close I came to suffering a major injury. But, I continued riding and went into and out of the next checkpoint at mile 70. A short while after that checkpoint, I was caught by Jace. He was flying down the descents and I had no desire to travel at his speed because my ribs were hurting and I was still thinking about my nasty crash.  Eventually my mind and body felt like racing again, but the race was basically over by the time I felt like going fast again.  I made the return trip to the finish as much fun as I could and was very happy that I had survived the day when I crossed the finish line in third place.

If you're looking for an awesome 100 mile mtb race race to do, definitely consider doing the HC 100.  It is a top notch event with a great course.  Thanks to Mike Ripley and all of his helpers for putting on a fantastic event.

Happy Trails....  Gerry

Thanks to Oregonvelo.com and Ryan O'Dell for the photos.

1 comment:

  1. Come to Woolwine August 19th....we'll make sure to clear out the pesky logs!!