One dog goes for a hundred
Zuni Mountains 100, by Paul B.
It’s cold and still a little dark, the sun is still 45 minutes from rising. There is a huge bonfire. Jack is in charge, we all surround the fire to stay warm.
I’ve got to figure out my clothing, I decide to start with tights on and a few layers of upper body wear. Will I need to start with lights? I might. I ask the others, they think that it will be light enough by the time we hit the single track. I leave my light behind.
My bike is ready, my pack is checked. Last chance until I return back to this point after 50 miles.
Off we roll, it’s chilly, a beautiful morning. Down the road until we hit some trail. It’s getting colder as we go downhill. My fingers are freezing, I can’t feel the brake levers. Changing gears is a challenge too.
I start to warm up a little on the climbs only to get cold again on the descents. We are ripping down Sawmill to Purple Haze now. I can see the sun starting to break through onto the ridge over to the west.
Feeling warmer, I start to plan the peeling off of my clothing layers. I pull off the long sleeve jersey while free-wheeling the short road section between Purple Haze and Milk Ranch. I decide to keep the arm warmers on since Quasi canyon will still be in shade.
I start the grind, it’s loose and rocky. A technical climb with no margin for error. Even though it’s cold I need to remember to drink, I have to stay hydrated for this ride. My electrolyte mix doesn’t taste great at this hour, where is my tea?
I’m climbing with a couple of guys, we yoyo back and forth on the trail. I see Dan up ahead. We rode together at Rico this past summer. He disappears up the trail.
Finally I’m at the top, what a slog. I plan more clothing adjustments. I’ll keep the tights on for the descent down Burma, it will be chilly. I stop at Hilso and take off the tights, others have stopped too and resupply with water and food. I munch on a Clif bar, one of many more to come.It’s time to put sunglasses on.
One guy has a leak in his hydration pack, he has no water. He keeps going. We hit the next climb, it is rocky and rutted. Up to Lost Lake Rim trail, I need to eat. Another Clif bar? It’s all about replacing calories today. I drink some mix, it tastes better now.
I’m rolling on Lost Lake now, it’s in the big ring and it feels good. I stand up and stretch the lower back. It feels tight. There is no one else around me through here. I bomb down Quaking Aspen, it’s fast and technical. I love it.
Right turn onto Y2K and I catch a couple of guys at a junction in the trail, they seem to be unsure of which way to go. “Go right” I yell and they follow me down the trail. We ride together all the way to Torreon. I stop to get some food out of my pack and they pedal on. Trail mix, yum! Stretch the back and the legs. Back on the bike and pedal some more.
One section at a time, you can’t worry about what’s coming up 20 miles down the line. I concentrate on getting up Torreon, it’s rocky but not very steep. It’s hard to find a rhythm.
I bomb down Plush trail, it’s rocky too and technical in places. I hear a hissing sound coming from the back wheel. It’s flat before I can roll to a stop. There is a piece of root the size of a pencil sticking out of the tyre, no amount of sealant will take care of that. I need to put a tube in. While I’m sitting there I’m stuffing fistfuls of trail mix into my mouth. It feels good to be sitting down. I think I’m around the 40 mile point. I pump, I eat. Two guys pass me. They offer help and commiserations.
The tyre has air, the belly has food. Let’s go. I concentrate on getting up Tampico. It’s a loose rocky trail which is not easy after 45 miles in the legs. I look forward to my resupply at the car. I’m flying down Mike’s Rippin trail, ‘careful mate no more flats’. I’m planning my resupply.
I hit the start/finish area and sign in after the first 50 mile lap. It takes just over 5 hours. I find my car and see Greg sitting in his truck nearby. Great, maybe he can help me. I ask him to lube the chain. He mentions something about having to go back to town right away. I get ready to smack him. He lubes the chain.
I wolf down a sandwich, it doesn’t even touch the sides. Down goes the ice tea, yum. Mix the camel back, grab some Clif bars, grab more trail mix. Greg gives me some gels.
I sign out for the next 50 mile loop, that stop took me 16 minutes. The next 50 is the reverse of the first 50. Those fun ripping descents now become uphill grinds. My pack is heavy again. I’ll need every last ounce of its contents.
I blow down Strawberry to Bumpy field where I meet Lloyd at the fence. He is just out for a joy ride and offers words of encouragement. Always a pleasant guy.
Not long after meeting Lloyd, Tim Pickert comes flying down lower Plush, he is doing the 50. He is going fast and looking strong. We shout greetings. I’m passing the opposite direction 50 mile riders now.
I hit Plush trail, uphill this time. The legs actually feel ok at this point, I find a rhythm. That wasn’t so bad. At the top of Plush I meet Ryan D. going the other way. He asks how I’m feeling. He spurs me on. Another guy that always seems to be in a good mood, he is somewhat of a beer guru. Maybe he will hook me up with some at the finish. I start thinking about beer. After this much riding the mind is starting to wander off on a tangent.
I concentrate on pedaling, the next section I worry about is coming up. I eat, I drink. I force it down, the stomach doesn’t feel like it but I have to take in calories and fluids. Not another bar, yuck. I try a gel, it is sickly sweet. Yuck. I promise my belly I’ll treat it to beer at the finish.
I consider the Quaking Aspen to Lost Lake grind that is only a few miles away. It’s technical and long but only steep in a few places. The legs are trashed, my arse is sore. My lower back actually feels a little better. My hands hurt. Stop being a wimp and grind it out.
I roll through Lost Lake rim in the big ring again. It feels fast but only because I was going so slowly up the grind to get to this point. I stretch and drink. I don’t know how many miles I’ve done, my computer wasn’t working at the start so I left it behind. I think that I prefer not knowing. I guess at around 70 miles.
I like riding in the forest during this time of the year. The trails are covered in leaves and pine needles. The light is at a perfect angle and it is not too hot this afternoon. What a fantastic day to suffer!
I’m coming up on my resupply at Hilso. Some guys have cached water there. I was wise and cached my wife there. I’m so happy to see her as I roll up to the car. She is sitting there in a camp chair reading school books. I fill my camel back and munch on some chips. I eat half a sandwich. I down some trail mix. She tells me I’m doing well and looking good. If only she knew how I was feeling. We plan to intercept at the road between Milk Ranch and Purple Haze. I tell her to meet me there in two hours.
Off I pedal. I get psyched out about the prospect of going up Burma but it’s not so bad. I spin up it and it goes by quickly. The next section really psyches me out though. The upper part of Quasi is rocky, technical and steep in places. With fresh legs it wouldn’t be so bad but at this stage I’m not looking forward to it.
My suspicions are confirmed and I’m having a hard time on this section. I can’t get into a rhythm and I’m all over the place. I walk the short, steep, loose sections. It’s easier that way. Actually feels good to walk a few steps. My bike handling skills start to deteriorate as fatigue sets in.
I reach the lower part of the canyon and go past Bear cave. I’m just trying to keep it together through here. A small 3 foot high tree grabs my handlebars and flings me onto the ground. It takes me a second or two to realize what has happened. I land on the right side of my body and the right elbow takes the brunt of the fall. Ouch, the swearing begins. I lie there for a few more seconds then take stock of the damage to the bike and body. Both are ok so I get back on and pedal. I’ve lost all sense of motion and rhythm and I’m bouncing off everything at this point.
I’m not happy. It takes a while to regain what little composure I have left. I roll through Milk Ranch and cross the road to meet with the ‘intercepting wife cache’. I tell her how that section sucked and gulp some plain water. All I want is plain water, no electrolyte mix or anything sweet. I eat some chips, one bite of sandwich, one mouthful of trail mix. I grab my light in case I have to finish in the dark. Hopefully I won’t, I’m at the intercept 30 minutes ahead of plan. I tell her to meet me at the finish around 6:30. Off I go again.
This next section starts to loom in my mind. It’s Purple Haze up to Sawmill and has some short but very steep sections which are loose and technical in places. After this many miles this might turn into a comedy of errors. Even though my legs are hammered they feel surprisingly good at this stage and I don’t have to walk as many of the steep sections as I thought I might.
There is a guy about 10 minutes ahead of me up the trail. I don’t try to catch him, it doesn’t matter to me anyway. I’m just trying to finish this beast. The angle of the sun is lowering. I concentrate on pedaling and staying upright.
One section at a time now, I’ve got this. I think we’re good here. I bump into some guy with a bright green jacket. I saw him earlier in the day but don’t know how he got to this point. He mumbles something about shortcuts and different loops. I’m just trying to stay on the bike and in one piece.
I grind it out, it takes forever. I hit the road and pedal past the dry lake. I can see the start finish area off to the left. This is it, I’m out of the woods, literally. There is a small group of guys near the fire. They cheer for me and offer congratulations. One guy has the clipboard and asks for my name, He writes down 6:10 pm as the finish time.
I stumble towards my car, looking for the wife. I recognize people but can’t remember their names because I’m too tired. I plop down in the camp chair. I don’t know what I should do next.
I’m done, finally. 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing in just over 11 hours total.
I need food. I need water. A change of clothes feels good too. I stumble about the place for a while. The sun goes down. It gets cold again.