Butte 100 – “There’s chafing and then there’s chafing!” said my ass post race.
“Never Quit” it’s our family motto. Words we live by. Words up until now just sounded cool to say to someone. “Hey what’s your family motto? Eat pray love or some shit? Ours is Never Quit so suck it!” Cute, right? Well, this weekend I put it to the test. I have never wanted to quit something so badly in my life, and I am not joking. Somewhere on the course, during the first 50 miles, you cross a road. I was bombing downhill towards said road and all I could think was, “Please let there be a car, and please let it hit me! Not kill me, but injure me just bad enough I can no longer race.” Unfortunately/Fortunately, depending on your point of view, there was no car. On the final decent to the half way point you ride a nice gravel road – first non single track in forever – and I seriously considered intentionally crashing, “maybe I could break a collar bone, or just really fuck up my bike.” I did not 🙁 As I rounded the corner at the halfway point I saw my lovely wife, or at least it appeared to be her as I could hardly see through the tears, and I heard her say, “Oh geez.” With the kind of tone you would say when you see someone else get hurt, and have a sense of humor about it no matter how bad the injury is. Like, “Oh geez that guy just fell down a flight of stairs…fucking idiot.”
This gets us to the halfway point of the story. No shit, halfway in and I am toast. If it wasn’t for this social media bullshit I would have quit. If nobody knew I was there, I would have quit. If I wasn’t me, I would have quit. Unfortunately/Fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I am me so I put my head down and listened to my wife’s words of wisdom as I departed the halfway point, “suck it up buttercup.”
Meanwhile – in Butte America
Not sure if it was nutrition, hydration, or just the fact that I was not a mountain biker but from miles 20-60 I wanted to die. I felt horrible. So many pains, ailments, and general pussitous that I cannot single out any one major catastrophe that was happening. The only thing I can compare it to is if you put your head in a vice and just kept tightening it, and below the vice was a screen playing that preview from Leonardo Decapricock’s new movie. The one with the intense music and heavy breathing.
Soooooo, that gets us to mile 60. I should back track a tad. Somewhere in there at about Aid Station 7 I decided to ditch my nutrition strategy, throw caution to the wind, not caring about the impact on my girlish figure, and ate some fucking sugar! I pounded some PB&J sammy’s, trial mix, and slammed a coke. Five minutes later I felt like Leo in Wolf of Wall Street – “Let’s run like we’re fucking lions and tigers and bears!” It was straight up crack and it was awesome! I started smiling, singing, and whooping and hollering my way down the trail. I would have jumped out of my skin if it were possible.
For those who know the course – you will note that this miraculous turn around happened at exactly the right time. I was about to get to the dreaded Aid Station 8. After which there is a stretch called the 8 miles of hell. That description is not accurate by the way. 8 Miles of Hell sounds more like the walk from the midway to you car at the State Fair. It’s bearable, but yet still awful. This 8 miles was fucking horrible. With a capital “F.” From the race bible, “This portion of the trail was built in 204 and should be in fantastic condition. Be careful not to redline yourself on this stretch, as its relentlessness will not give you much of a chance to gather yourself.” Understatement of the century,
Despite my new found sugar high I hurt during that stretch. Three or four times during the climb I collapsed, still clipped in, and laid in the middle of the trail. Counting to 60 Mississippi while laying there like a dead person. The second I hit 60 I got up and kept going. In the super steep sections I hiked my bike like a world champion hiker biker. I swear I walked a fucking marathon out there humping my bike up some of that shit. God dammit. Sorry, chills running down my spine there.
I made the section from AS8 – AS9 in about 2:16 (two hours, sixteen minutes), and for the first time in my endurance career I knew I had to do something I have never done, and never dreamed I would have to do…no not that, get your mind out of the gutter! I had a time cutoff to make. If I did not make it to the next Aid Station in 2:34 my race day would be over. I knew that coming into the AS9 so I was a little fired up, sorry AS9 volunteers for the extreme vulgarity, needless to say I lit up that Aid Station with some colorful language and may have been a bit aggressive. Not in a mean way, but in a kids we are going to Disney World kind of way (the reaction you want your kids to have, but they never do, and if your kids were an immature 35 year old).
The previous journey was about 13.1 miles and, like I said earlier, it took me 2:16. The next checkpoint was 11.3 miles and equally as challenging so there could be some slow down. I had 2:34 to get there or my race was over. I buried myself over the next 11.3 miles. I went as hard as I could go as I was not going to miss that fucking cutoff.
The entire time I was riding all I could do was the math. “Let’s see, I’ve gone 0.36 miles and it took me 10 minutes, so carry the one, annnnnnd I like pizza.” Shit was not computing. The only solace I could take was from a young guy at the Aid Station. When I asked if they thought I could make it an old guy replied, “Ahhhh, it’s going to be close but you should be fine,” in an old guy ‘yeah right’ kind of tone. To which young guy replied, “Duuuude there’s like 4 miles of downhill after the climbs you’ll be fine.” That was all I needed to hear, and it stuck with me. When I got on the 4 mile stretch of beautiful downhill gnar I shredded that shit so hard. I came flying into the last check point in 1:40. Crushed it!
There was a rumor the final AS10 had beer. Other then the fear of failure, it was all I could think about over the past 90+ minutes. How good that beer was going to taste. When I came screaming into the AS10, no necessarily with speed but actually screaming, the volunteers gave me a big cheer and a round of high fives. I was probably the greatest mountain biker they had ever seen. That, or they were drunk because they were sitting there all day and I was probably the last mountain biker they would see that day. Either way, they were cheering me on. AS10 did not disappoint. I enjoyed an ice cold Budweiser and a bag of Lays potato chips. It was heaven.
While laying there in my blissful moment I was trying to remember what the last 9 miles looked like. I am pretty sure it was all downhill. After all we climbed for 91 miles. “Excuse me what’s left?” “Ooohhhhh, not much, You’ve got this little decent right here (pointing to the trail) then a five mile climb then a nice 4 mile decent to the finish.” “Fuck you.” He laughed.
I shredded the last nine miles and cruised into the finish line about as happy as anyone out there that day. I was very happy to be done, and very proud of the effort it took. People can tell you that “this race is harder,” or “that race is harder,” but at the end of the day it does not matter. Simply because they are fucking assholes. This race was the hardest ever!