Manistee National Forest, MI
Lumberjack 100 Saturday June 16, 2012
by: Mike Bernhard
Well, it was my first 100 miler and first time riding the Big M trail in northern MI. So I didn't have a ton of expectations. I really just wanted to finish strong and under 10 hours. Me and my support crew (support crew = awesome girlfriend Lindsy and our dog Chewy) headed up after work on Friday to setup camp, and hopefully get a goodnight sleep. 4:45am came quick...I think I got about 3-4 hours of sleep. We got to the pit area and setup. I was running 32x18 on the SS. It was on the easy side but it ended up being a real nice gear. In hindsight, the first mistake of the day was not pushing it on the 2 mile pavement roll out. I took it easy and didn't want to burn any matches right away. However when 400 riders hit single track at roughly the same time your gonna have a traffic jam. Not to mentioned it hadn't rained in a few weeks so the trails were super sandy and the 300ish riders in front of me created a dusty fog in the woods. At times I could barely see two riders ahead of me. To make matters worse the single track was lined with branches that were cleared off the trail from a bad ice storm this winter. So making clean passes was not easy and ran the risk of flats and sticks getting jammed into your wheels. So, once again played it conservatively and just tried to enjoy the trail until things broke up a bit. After about 15-20 miles there was enough two track that riders started to spread out and I was able to hang with a pack of geared riders that were going at a nice pace. I came through the pit area after the first lap at 2:52 and feeling pretty good. I was happy about that and realized I might be able to do this thing closer to 9 hours so I started to get serious. Thanks to my pit crew I was reloaded with my carbs and electrolytes and was back on the trail at the 2:56 mark.
The second lap was sweet. I was able to rip the downhills that on the first lap I was forced to ride my brakes on due to the crowds. I steadily passed riders through out the lap, and only got passed by two single speeders all day. I was actually bummed that I never hooked up with any fellow one geared guys to ride with. So most of my day was lonely or pacing with geared guys. My nutrition plan was going well on the second lap. A few twinges of cramps in my quads but I could keep them under control. I definitely had to push my bike up a few hills that I was able to ride on the first lap. Overall I was feeling tired but still had strong motivation and rolled into the pits at the 5:46 mark. Loaded up more water and nutrients and headed back out for the last 33 mile loop.
Third lap I was in survival mode for the first two thirds. Not sure what happened with my stomach but my gut was just not happy. I think I should have gave up on the Perpetuem once it started tasting chalky and not appetizing at all. Every hill I just coasted to the base, hopped of the bike and started hiking. There wasn't much chatter on the trail this lap either. Everyone looked dead tired, fighting cramps and basically miserable. I think my low point for the the day was getting passed on the "Fire Tower Hill". I was dead tired and forced to take a rest while pushing my bike up a steep sandy climb. While leaning on my bike staring at the sand another geared rider had a little more juice than me and climbed by... I tried to climb faster and chase him but that just made things worse and actually had to stop for a minute at the top and catch my breath. However shortly after that there is a long downhill and I think I got some sort of sugar rush. I found myself actually riding my bike, hitting turns with speed, weaving in and out of trees, bunny hopping roots, I new the finish was close. This was unfortunately short lived. I now had about 7 miles of hill repeats ahead of me and it pretty much sucked. Then before I knew it I could hear the announcer and I rolled across the line... 9:02:45.
23 out of 47 in the Single Speed class, 128 out of 392 overall. I'll take it. It was a long journey that started early this winter on the spin bike. Not sure if 100 milers are my bag, but it was great day of riding the bike