First 100 mile mountain bike race - a wake-up call

Written by Cyril Jay-Rayon
Created Date: Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:19

On paper, racing 100 miles on dirt is nothing when you're used to 24 hour mountain bike races or multiday adventure races but, as I expected, it's quite different. Coming into the High Cascade 100, I hadn't trained differently than for a 24 hour race so I knew that I'd be a little weak on the intensity side. I told myself that I'd hold back at the beginning and work my way up from there. But, as is often the case, it's hard to hold back when you have 350 other riders fighting for their spot on the single track trail. So, I started a little too fast and paid the price quickly.

Although I didn't feel bad a high intensity, the combination of an early morning start (5:30 am start after having some trouble sleeping wasn't ideal) and the intensity made my stomach revolt. It was upset for 5 hours and then, miraculously, the stomach settled and I finally could find a better rhythm on the trails. The stomach certainly didn't help but what was clear is that I was getting one hell of a beating. If I want to do better at these races, I better do more interval training and work on my technical skills. I got beat handily on the descents by a few other riders around me and, although 100 miles is long, you can't afford to fall too far behind if you want to do well thus the need to ride faster than a 24 hour tempo pace.

What also took me off guard was the amazing amount of single track and lack of steady dirt road or 2 track climbs. After the roll out and initial road section, it was all single track except for a few short sections. This made eating and drinking challenging and I found it hard to find a good rhythm.  My strengths are on  the long steady climbs (talk about a one dimensional mountain biker!). There are no big ones at the HC100. But, I couldn't complain about the amount of stunning single track which made the HC 100 a true mountain bikers' race. What it simply meant is that I have work to do and I look forward to it.

Note to self:

  • Ride more single track on a variety of terrain. It's what mountain biking is all about after all!
  • Do more interval training
  • Do some more recon on the course beforehand so I'm not surprised and better prepared in terms of nutrition (At HC 100, it's better to go with a quick access liquid diet so you don't have to slowdown)
  • Get some sleep the night before!

Racing the HC 100 was an incredible adventure and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a true long distance mountain bike race. I have to say that it was really pleasant to race hard and then be done well before sunset. Racing through the night, although an amazing experience, is a lot harder to recover from. I was back on the bike and feeling good within 2 days.

In the end, I managed to claw my way back to 6th place in the veteran category.

Looking forward to the next 100 miler,
Cyril