Kate Wilson has a way of getting me to sign up for things that are way outside my abilities. LIke the Quivering Quads. Or Berryman Adventure Race. I guess I’m partly to blame because I don’t exactly take a lot of convincing to sign up for these things. But you would think that eventually I would learn that when Kate says we should do something it’s going to be really hard.
Not long after I had moved to Cheyenne Kate mentioned that we should sign up to do a mountain bike race in Alta, Wyoming: Pierre’s Hole 50/100. And because I still haven’t learned my lesson I agreed. Kate naturally signed up for the 100 mile option and I opted for the 100k option.
In the weeks before the race Kate’s parents learned that we would be racing and decided to come up and crew for us. That meant that they also rented a cabin for us to stay in. How great is that?!?! It turned out to be really great since a pretty serious looking thunder storm rolled through town on Friday night and I believe that we were all really happy to not to be in tents.
I drove up to Driggs, ID on Friday after work and met up with Kate and her parents there. Kate and I spent a lot of time going through all the food we had and organizing it into drop bags to be left at the various aid stations. As it turns out we had a lot of food and could have supported quite a few more racers.
(Side note: as we were going through all the food Kate said, “I brought you a present!” She’d had to stop at a gas station for a bathroom break on her way down from Seattle. They required a minimum $10 purchase and it was the Opal Capitol of the US so naturally Kate brought me some shiny rocks in a little container. Because it’s totally normal to show up with gems for your friend.)
Saturday morning came and we had the alarms set for 5:00am. I got up and got the breakfast burritos made while Kate took care of getting the car loaded. We started making our way to Grand Targhee Resort and were a little surprised to find a slew of runners on the road. Apparently there was some kind of relay race going on .
We got to the resort and I took off to find a bathroom. Typical. Kate had an earlier race start and had to get all her stuff ready to go, which basically means putting a wheel on her bike. With her bike ready to go and the foods dropped off at the aid stations we waited for the countdown and Kate was off!!
I had about an hour and a half to wait until my race started. But somehow I still managed to piddle away enough time that I was still buckling my helmet and not at the start line as they were counting down the start of the race. Somehow I wasn’t even surprised. I did get to the start line in time to take off with the rest of my wave.
The course was a lap format. Kate had to ride three laps and I had to ride two. The first lap for each wave went up a logging road before spitting the racers out onto single track. The first several miles of each lap were all uphill taking the racers up past the top of the ski lifts on the mountain. From that altitude the views were incredible and the Tetons were just staring you in the face.
On the way down the mountain we rode a trail called 38 special. 38 special had 47 switchbacks. Try and figure out the logic there.
After the big up and the big down there was a section of paved road before more single track that took the riders back to the start/finish line.
As I was on the last section of single track on my first lap I came across another racer who was not having the best day. He was lying under a tree. “Um, are you OK?” I asked as I came up to him. “I don’t think so was his response” I quickly dismounted my bike to see what could be done. He had run out of food and water and wasn’t sure how far along he was. Lucky for him I had extra snacks stuffed up my shorts. So I gave him half of my remaining water and some snacks and some salt pills. After assuring him that my leg sweat that he was consuming contained magical properties and that he was only two miles from the finish I rode on. I like to think I saved a life.
I finished lap one feeling great. I wasn’t moving fast, but I was moving well. And I had been able to keep a pretty solid eating and drinking routine up. On lap two, instead of climbing the mountain on a logging road we were immediately spit onto single track. This added a couple of miles of difficult riding to the lap. On the second lap the sun came out in earnest and the trail leading up the mountain was mostly exposed. I just kept getting hotter and hotter. As the heat increased my ability to eat decreased. It was the recipe for a disaster and I knew it. But there wasn’t anything I could do to stop it.
By the time I approached the last aid station I was pretty much exhausted. My speed had dropped considerably and I was losing coordination. I left the aid station and within a couple of miles decided to call it quits. Its a bit of a bummer to have to drop out of a race with only ten miles left, but I didn’t think that finishing was worth the injury that was likely to occur.
Kate fared much better on the day though and did end up finishing her 100 mile race. She’s a champ.
Overall the race was run incredibly smoothly. Registration was a breeze. Aid stations were stocked well. Volunteers were top notch. But I do have one complaint. There were no bathrooms anywhere. If you’ve got athletes who are riding for 10+ hours at a time and eating mainly gels and gummis you know there are going to be GI issues. I would really have appreciated a port a potty or two at the aid stations. And I can guarantee I’m not the only one.
After the race we went back to Driggs to spend the night and look for food. Apparently restaurants in Driggs all close by 9:00pm on a Saturday night though. Who would’ve thunk it?
The next morning we all prepared to go our separate ways after eating at Big Hole Bagels.
Overall it was a pretty great weekend spent with pretty great people. I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t end up finishing the race, but I am pretty pleased with how far I was able to ride. And I’m pretty excited to see what race Kate suggest we do next.