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Behind Bars with Evan Plews

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |October 1, 2012 2:26 AM

Behind Bars

Evan Plews reports on his east coast tour of national ultra endurance series (NUE) races

Seems like my best laid bike race travel plans end up compromised more often than not. With an early flight out of Portland I chose to spend the night in an airport hotel hoping to get more rest. That worked well and I was on my way to Baltimore where I would rendezvous with a long lost friend for a ride to Shenandoah Mountain 100 (SM100).

The remnants of hurricane Isaac were moving north, which was irritating simply because nearly every time I've raced east of the Mississippi has been in wet and miserable conditions. Issac had an another prank to play as my connecting flight out of Kansas City was delayed several hours. It was after 2AM when we were finally in bed the day before SM100.

We drove the rest of the way to the beautiful venue as the rain showers began. By the time we reached to foothills it was apparent that considerable rain had already fallen and more was on the way. Chris Scott and his team put on a great show and the first class registration and pre-race meal made up for the weather.

I tried to get to bed early but just wasn't ready for the time change and spent the night tossing and turning in a restless doze. By the time the alarm went off I was more tired of trying to sleep than I was when I went to bed.

I got on my bike to warm up and immediately didn't have good sensations but I hoped things would come around. We got started and began to climb a series of rollers which put at the back quickly and caused me to get stuck behind slower riders on the first trail descent. The front of the race was long gone as I picked my way forward slowly passing the remnants of the lead group. By the halfway point somehow I was into third place but knew Christian Tanguy the 2011 NUE Series champ would be closing behind after an early flat tire. By now the conditions were hideous with rain often falling so heavily one could only see a few yards ahead. The roads and trails were now streams in most cases and it was impossible too see most of the rocks and roots.

I moved into second place passing Sam Koerber near the top of the biggest climb. Unfortunately, that is when the race took a turn as there was no bottle to exchange at the next feed zone and I decided to press on.

As I neared the bottom of the subsequent descent I caught Jeremiah Bishop the race leader. Reached the next aid station together and again I was unable to get bottle without stopping to refill. As I slowed in confusion about where I was to get the feed, JB attacked on the road and I wasn't able to rejoin him. Two hours without water was taking its toll and soon Tanguy passed me on the last climb before the descent to the finish.

I hung onto third easily and was very pleased with that result under the circumstances but still disappointed as I wondered what might have been.

Fool's Gold 100 was another rough one for me. Despite being lazy all week and trying to rest I found myself missing my usual strength as we rode the initial climb.

I took the lead on the descent but mistook the corner marshal for a photographer as my glasses had been sprayed pretty bad so instead of leading into the singletrack I was about  ten spots back.

Unfortunately I never saw the front of the race again as I lost time following the slow folks and then lacked power to close.

I caught Drew after a bit and passed him only to fall heavily when I clipped a log that was poking out into the trail under some bushes. Luckily I wasn't out of the race but my ribs are likely fractured.

It took some time to get going and finally I re-passed Edsall about an hour later then a demoralized Tanguy after aid six. Christian was clearly better than I on the climbs but seemed uninterested in chasing. I took the initiative but he was able to rejoin me each time I slowed to pass lap riders and when the trail kicked up.

We heard that Sam Koerber was not far ahead and I told Chris that he looked good and it was money in the bank if he could put both of us away which he did as we caught Sam on the rode back to the venue.

I was flagging by that point and could only watch as they rode away.

I finished fifth and just managed to retain third in the NUE series despite only participating in the minimum four races. That result equalled my 2008 result with a much stronger NUE field nowadays. I was also happy to get my first career NUE win at Pierre's Hole this year. Now I can only hope my injuries from this weekend aren't too debilitating to preclude a good finish at Marathon National Championships this coming weekend!


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