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I have gone to bed at 3:30 AM more times than I have woken up to an alarm at 3:30AM, but on this particular Saturday, my alarm roused me from dreamland dark and early, and that dream was that I was on a crashing airplane. Surprisingly, my eyes popped open and I was ready to get moving without hesitation. Most 100 mile mountain bike races start at 6 AM. I have even started a 125 mile race at midnight in a snowstorm, but I have never started a race at 5 in the AM. It actually wasn’t too bad minus the small, minor detail that my legs didn’t get the memo that THEY had to wake up by 5 AM as well.

220 sleepy Creampuffers lined up and enjoyed a neutral 3-4 mile roll-out at exactly 5:05 AM, led by race promoter, Scott Taylor on his motorcycle.

Once he pulled off and gave us the green light, the pack surged forward. I positioned myself on Rebecca Rusch’s wheel, but soon found myself struggling to hang on at the blistering pace she set. “That’s how a world class champion rides,” I thought to myself, and pictured her riding to her victory at Leadville last year. Rebecca soon disappeared up the dirt road with Marg Fednya hot on her wheels along with the top men, and I never saw Rebecca again until the finish. I was struggling behind my pedals and within 5 miles, I had to back off my pace at watch packs of guys, and Louise Kobin, multiple time winner of the CreamPuff, blow by me. She said, “Good job girl!” That’s what I love about these long races… we are all competing, but there is camaraderie. Sarah Kaufmann caught me as well, humored me for a minute by riding with me, and promptly upped the pace and encouraged me to keep up with her. No can do, she eventually disappeared up the road too. Another pack of guys went by along with Erika Krumpelman. It was official, I was in 6th place and more guys kept going by me. I felt like the rest of the women would pass me any minute because there were so many strong women at this race! My legs felt like horrible rotten meat sticks. I was powerless on my amazing german mountain bike, and I, myself, felt anything but amazing. The opening climb was a deceivingly difficult 20 mile dirt road. “How will I ever ride 100 miles feeling like this?” Keep pedaling. The first 3 hours were not pleasant for me. I questioned why I even race my bike, debated quitting racing for the rest of the year (yes, I was being a bit of a drama queen), cursing myself for thinking I could do two 100 mile races, 50 mile race, and travel all within a 4 week period. “You are lucky to be here riding your bike in gorgeous Oakridge, OR. Just enjoy that.” However, I am a bright-eyed optimist most of the time, and there was a little voice inside of me that said, “You WILL come around. You’ve been here before. Think Growler.”

So I kept pedaling, and impatiently waiting. I finally entered the first piece of singletrack around 7:10 AM.

It felt like a relief to get off that tortuous road that never seemed to end. I tried to relax, but I was not riding smooth, launched off a log and went ass over tea kettle (I went over the bars) but somehow managed to land on my feet. Shaken, I was still enjoying the singletrack and started to catch a few people. We popped out on a loose, gravel road. I thought, “Well, if I can’t climb fast today, I am going to rail these descents.” What do you know, I moved into 5th place. The road started to point up again. This time it was different. I applied pressure to my pedals (Crank Brothers Eggbeaters if you’re curious). I was finally pedaling circles instead of squares, and I was even able to shift down a couple times to a harder gear. “YES!!!!! I’m back! I’m finally riding like Sonya! Here I come!!!” I didn’t just feel strong, I felt like a superhero and decided that as long as I felt that way, I was going to push at a hard sustained effort and race for the remaining 70 miles of the course. I looked down at my clock and I was already 3 hours and 20 minutes into the race. I caught a bunch of guys, which fueled my fire even more. I had déjà vu of the previous 2 Whiskey 50 races and saw Sarah up the dirt road. I passed her moving into 4th place, but spent the rest of my race looking over my shoulder because we usually finish within minutes of one another. Sarah also filed a win under her belt a few weeks ago! My favorite part of that time in the race was when I heard a guy behind me. I could barely hear him, but he was breathing hard and said, “I’m just trying to hang onto Sonya’s wheel!” That was another boost after the dark moments I had in the beginning of the race. I got to ride with a guy named James for awhile, and it was nice to have the company and someone to keep me accountable. We eventually parted ways on the singletrack. After all, I had some women to catch!

The rest of the race flowed by for the most part. I ended up catching Marge and not too much later, I found Louise Kobin on the singletrack. By mile 47, I found myself sitting anxiously in 2nd place. The singletrack was absolutely amazing. It reminded me of the landscape in Avatar. The descending played to my strengths and I was able to rip it without grabbing much brake! I let out an emphatic hoot and holler every once in awhile, and couldn’t help but giggle and get goosebumps. The ground was like carpet, there were ferns, trees that were probably 10 feet wide, and a strawberry fragrance in the air from other vegetation.

I headed up the evil dirt road for lap 2 of the course and got a report at the bottom of the climb that Rebecca was 15 minutes up on me. I checked in with myself and made sure I was taking in copious amounts of fluid, electrolytes, and gels. It was HOT in the sun. I knew that Louise was hot on my heels at the start of the climb and that Louise can CLIMB, and that Sarah was probably chasing as well. “2 hours to the top of this climb. Open up that gap, now PUSH.” And for the next two hours, I didn’t see much except for my front wheel, sweat dripping onto my top tube, and the ground. I heard Phil Ligget’s commentary, “Nail your head to the stem. Pedal strokes of anger!” I got passed by only one person up that dirt road, and it was my friend Gabe who apparently had found his legs too. By the top of the climb, I was afraid I was cramping because it was hot and I had been pushing hard for hours. I also got a report that Rebecca was now 20+ minutes up on me, and I knew I wouldn’t be seeing her until after the finish. “Maintain 2nd place.” The singletrack was a sight for sore eyes. I LOVE singletrack. J However, I started to fall apart again around mile 70 or 75. I was out of gas after pushing a subthreshold heartrate for 45 miles, so I backed off the throttle and tried to simply ride my bike. I was longing for the aide station at mile 84. I was also dying to get done with the second dirt road climb that I had magically come to life on about 4 hours before. I kept trying to see around every corner, straining my eyes to see if the hike-a-bike to the singletrack was within sight. When I finally got to the aide station, I stopped and ate a chocolate chip cookie, chugged a coke, and felt reborn. “I gotta break 10 hours. I lost too much time in the last 10 miles, grrr!” My body was revved up again and I rode that Rotwild like I stole it down the remaining 16 miles of mostly downhill, rolling singletrack. I was very much in control, but also felt like kind of a maniac!

I came across the line in 10 hours and 5 minutes (damn! So close!) with 100 miles and 18,000’ of climbing behind me, putting me 2nd overall in the women, and 21st overall out of 220 racers.

After the mental struggle I had in the beginning of the race, I am more proud of the 2nd place at this race than my 1st place at the Bailey Hundo 3 weeks ago.

This was my first time racing in Oregon and I am extremely impressed. The course was well-marked and there wasn’t a second where I thought I might be lost. The aide stations were organized, well-stocked, there were so many volunteers (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU), and they even lubed your chain! The race promoter is Scott Taylor, and his energy and his love for trails is infectious. The entry fee also included a free ten minute massage, Ninkasi beer (a new brewery I discovered in Eugene and LOVE), thai food, and a raffle. I want to come back to Oregon for vacation to simply ride, drink coffee, and hit the breweries I missed! Oregon culture report to come! I hope I can work it so I can come back next year (and maybe race the High Cascade 100 next year!)


Offical Results can be found HERE

Elevation and HR profile from my Suunto T6.

Also, thanks to Shane Young from Oregon Velo for the photos!

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