100 miles Time 9:35
placed 66th out of 360 finishers(450 riders)
placed 50th out of 248 for open Male
Placed 1st out of the 11 DCMTB/CityBikes team riders
This was a race that I had heard of and had always thought that someday I would eventually do. When I joined the DCMTB / CityBikes team I saw that this was one of the Priority Races and so I had planned to have this race on my radar for the whole year. A lot of my friends had done this race so I knew I could do the race, but I had never ridden a bike for more than 6 hours, and I knew that most of my friends finished around the 11 hour mark. My Buds Jay and Sid were doing TransRockies(7 Day Mt. bike race 4-7 hour rides a day) this year and they were always up for riding. I was able to do some good epic rides with them this year from liberty furnace in March with Steve, and Jay, to my Catherine Furnace day with Sid in July where we were out there for 7 hours in 90 degree heat. In doing these rides, I had done longer mt. bike rides this year than I had ever done.
For SM100 I went down on Sat. morning with Mark who is over 50 and still does this race and does it well. The CityBikes team had a good amount of people that were to be at the race and MattyD went down to secure a camping spot for us. We got down to the Stokesville site and we got settled in, and had a good time Sat. night hanging out with the people. I was asking a lot of questions like any Newbie for this race, just making sure I had my bases covered. So we get up at 5am for the start of the race, and things are going fine, but I need to go to the bathroom before the race. Mike and I go to the john and then as I am in there I hear 10 minutes! So I run out of the bathroom, and get back to the campsite to put my clothes on. Mike was already ready to go his words of encouragement were,”you got time just be quick.” Luckily I had my stuff all laid out so I just had to get it on and get to the line. I get to the “line” and I didn’t see any of my teammates so I was going to start from the back of the race.(Photo passing Ann co-owner of Bike Lane)
The race starts and I am in the way back, so there is this downhill to start things off and we had some bunch ups where we had to stop. I am passing people, not being crazy, just going a fast tempo high cadence to warm up the legs for the day ahead. As we get to the road things open up and I am able to really pass a bunch of people.
As we started the first fire road climb I passed Tris, Jake, Joel, and then rode with Brice from Bike Lane, who was also around Joe from my team. I got some distance on people on the last steep section of the climb going into the single track. This was new trail for me I had ridden about 30-40% of the course beforehand. As I was going down I ended up in this group with the second place woman finisher from the Trek team. We get down the single track to the fire road and they really started to pump up the pace, and I felt it was a little too fast for me so I let them go. Joe caught up to me and I decided that I would ride with him for a bit. (photo Joe taking the reins) So Joe and I started the Reddish Knob climb together and that was going good, but I felt a little slow on the climb and I didn’t want to go into the red so I would let people go on up ahead on me. We started up the Tilman trail and I then started getting my climbing legs and was riding good and caught up to MattyD and was able to ride with him and he could tell I was on his tail so he told me to pass and I did. I was moving up the climb until we got to the real steep stuff that you had to walk. At that time I was actually now riding with Ryan Bannon, and we were walking together for a little bit just keeping a good pace then finally I saw some people riding ahead so I thought I would give it a try. I started riding and most people were walking their bikes, so I just yelled out that I was coming through and I ended up gaining some time and was actually by myself for the start of the wolftrail downhill. I have gotten better with the downhills but I am not a fast downhiller, so I don’t like people riding my ass. Well I was doing the downhill pretty good and Ryan caught back up to me, and I then had him go in front since he is faster and we did that downhill that way. At this point I am thinking that I would ride the SM100 with Ryan and see how it goes. Back down on the dirt road I am setting a comfortable pace to the #2 aid station. I left Ryan and then on the pavement section Eric and MattyD from team come storming by in a paceline. I join but realize they are going a little too fast for me. Matt and I end up kinda riding together and then aid station #2 is ahead. The aid stations were great at the SM100 kinda like NASCAR with people trying to help you out and you not having to use your brain too much. I used my lessons I learned riding with Bruce at the Mountain Momma Century and just had some food topped off the fluids and left. That was where I lost Matt I think. I then was riding with Eric and I think the 3rd place women’s finisher. I was trying to figure out what was next on the course and how far the next aid station was for my water consumption. I went faster than Eric up the steep part of the pavement climb(I decided to use Maxxis CrossMarks for the race which was a good pick with their good rolling resistance they were fast and had just enough grip for the downhills). So I am by myself riding with people in the race I don’t know but trying to just race my race and see what happens. We do the fireroad climb up Hankey Mountain and then the single track, and I think this is where things really started to work in my favor in retrospect. I did all of Hanky without walking and was actually able to pass some people. These 3-4 people were the people I would see myself with the rest of the day. Going down Dowell’s Draft I was taking it easy cause I didn’t want to wreck. I saw Kent on the side of the trail working on his bike and he was like,”Go ON Darren” so that gave me inspiration, and made me realize I was doing a fast time since Kent usually rides this race in the low 9’s. I got to aid station #3 and was quick there thinking I would eat and drink on the road to Brailey’s. I was with some riders I had passed earlier and they were in a paceline doing a good tempo. I was riding with them, but then my hamstrings started cramping, so I slowed down and drank a whole bottle of Heed and that seemed to do the trick. It was so dry that there was no river to ford at Brailey’s which was nice. I did Brailey’s better then I have ever done it before only walked the first part which everyone does and like 30 feet later on. I got to the top took some electrolytes( I had taken 4 sport legs in the morning and was taking 2 electrolytes per hour after that) and asked the guys around me who was a fast descender so they could go first cause I didn’t want to be rushed. Going down Braileys I had my only wreck. I was trying to be nice to let a guy pass and I went too high up on the high side the guy wasn’t coming by and then I bit it. I yelled cause I was pissed that I wrecked when I didn’t need to. After that I went a little slower on the downhill. I picked up speed in the gradual downhill part that you need to pedal to keep moving. I rolled into aid station #4 which is a little more then halfway through the race, and this was to be my Long pit stop with a drop bag of clothes. I rolled in and Joe from Bike Lane took my bike and cleaned the gears and looked over the bike, Dharma got my drop bag, and Carrie got me fluids and stuff to eat. This was like having your own Nascar pit, I changed my jersey, got new gloves, and a new head band. I then put on my glasses and got out of the pit stop pretty quick. I hooked up with the people I had been around since going over Hanky. I rode with these people towards station #5 which I knew was the worst part of the race. 18 miles where you feel your life slip away. I was riding good, and I started to think wow I am doing good followed by being scared thinking I was going to blow up. I just kept thinking, ride within yourself and you will be ok. Interesting thing I was seeing in this race, compared to normal Mountain bike races was that I was slower on the fast stuff (gradual fireroads and the paved sections) and faster on the slow stuff (hills). The dirt road to #5 was a back and forth with a group were they would get ahead then I would catch up when a hill came, then people would get ahead, then I would catch up again. Around this time is when you really start feeling the race too. I would lock out my front shock and ride standing to give my crotch a break. I was starting to get some chafing going on as well. The back and forth with the people around me ended when the road took a right and started to really go up hill. I then passed all these riders I was with and had a guy(Jon Posner ) in the distance that I was following. He was in 24 solo I think. I rolled finally to aid #5, I was now 75 miles in and had 25miles left to go. I now knew I could do this! I fueled up and tried to eat which was getting hard to do. The other thing I did was ask if there happened to be any Chamois Butter around. A guy got me some and then I felt golden for the next 5 miles. I started off after David of Bike Lane passed him and was still trying to eat these pretzels that were taking for ever to eat. I decided to get some Clif Bloks and those things just go down easy. I did some fun water bars and started the climb up Chestnut ridge. This was single trak again and a little steeper then the fire road stuff I was on before. I was enjoying the climb cause I knew I was going to get a good time in the race. Chestnut goes on for a bit so you think you are done, then it goes up again. Jon passed me at some point in some technical stuff and I passed a single speeder at one point but besides that I was doing this whole mountain alone. The down hill was a tough one, I was staying within myself and didn't take any big risks. I think I lost some time coming down the mountain but I didn't wreck which would have been more time . The last part of the downhill was double track and you could get to 50mph if you wanted, it was just plain fast. I went through some creek crossings and then was at aid #6. I went in and just got water and left, I had caught up to Joe and I left before he did. I almost missed the turn for Hankey Mountain, cause there was no one around me so I was worried that I would miss the turn the reason I didn't was that I saw a SS in the distance, and then when I looked up again he was gone, so then I knew the turn was near. Going up Hankey a second time, was Ok but I knew once I went left and got up this steep hill it was all down hill after that. I was pretty stoked that I got up this short steep part on Hankey without walking. The three people in front of me didn't, so I was able to pass them there. I got down the mountain, and my back brakes were really soft by that point. I did the double track back to the finish line as fast as I could, I didn't really know my time, cause my bike computer had gone haywire so I knew I had a shot at maybe under 10 hours. I get into the campground and get to the line and Tris, Heather, and Katie are like Darren? Darren!!! I had to check with the people to find my time, and it was 9:35!!!!! Pretty insane I beat my goal by almost an hour.
This race was a revelation for me, it made me think about things and also re-affirmed what kind of racing I am good at. It will be hard next year to beat this time, I think I will need to be 8 pounds lighter, and maybe take 5 pounds off the bike, and shoot for 9:15 but that will be a tough day of riding, and luckly I don't have to worry about that for another year:-)
More Photos by Carrie (Steve's GF)