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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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!