Lumberjack 100 Race Report

Harvey Elliott's report of the Lumberjack 100 MTB race at Big M in Manistee.

Riding rigid hurts, I can't believe I used to do this on a regular basis!  I finished in about 8:43 with Ellie, Craig North, Nate Kerns, and Jesse from Treefort Bikes not far behind.  Jack Miner (and son) provided excellent pit support although thankfully I didn’t have to use him much.  I’d describe my race strategy as “remember, this is only a training ride!” but looking at my time from last year that may not be entirely accurate.  

Dawn at Big M
I converted my rigid single speed to 1x9 while standing in a mud puddle outside Timber’s restaurant the night before.  We had a 30 minute wait so it was a real Gran Prix type affair.  A slapped it together and give it a quick spin before running inside and ordering a pitcher of the Horny Monk from Petoskey Brewing - QUITE DELICIOUS! It was nice to have a bit more flex in gear selection, but without a chain guard I would frequently drop the chain on downhills forcing me to scrub my speed.  It was maddening because I was riding with people then would drop my chain and be alone in the woods for the umpteenth time.  You’d hear a brake pad squeal or a bad shift so I knew they were out there, but somehow I was mostly alone.  There were several cases where I’d pass someone on the hill and they’d pass me back 1-2 minutes later after the drop.  At the finish line I played this out three times with a single RADING GREYHOUNDS rider.  

Off the start I was bound and determined to stay in front of the tandems which was fortuitous because they ran the course in reverse this year.  In reverse, there wasn’t much room to pass off the start and we started off with a fairly serious climb - something I rather enjoyed but everyone else seemed to lament.  I sat on with some guys from the RACING GREYHOUNDS (don’t ask me why they insist on all caps), but unfortunately dropped after a fast downhill where my rear wheel decided it would rather meet my bottom bracket then stay back there all alone.  I clamped everything down again but another good bump put me out of commission just before the gravel road section.  My Kenda Small Block Eights may have cut a hole through my frame because I was too into "feeling fast” to care about the bike.  There are about 300 photos of me as I stood on the roadside re-attaching my rear wheel.  After 30 more mosquito bites and another amazing fast gran prix style repair job I was back on the bike and rolling smooth.  I don’t know how much I torqued those bolts but the wrench (and the bolts) may never be the same. After that, things literally rolled smoother and I cooled my jets a bit.  

Craig North at the
 starting line.
I had to make a few on-the-ride adjustments to the barrel adjuster but by lap two the chain and cassette were meshing nicely.  While I wasn’t riding hard, I also realized that I wasn’t eating or drinking enough.  I had a single bottle on me and 4-5 Hammer gels stuffed up my shorts.  Yummy!  I figured that since I did pay for this race and clearly wasn’t going to win, I should at least consume as much Hammer product as possible.  I’d grab an average of 10 or so gels every lap and add them to my shorts for good measure.  In all, I think I ate 18 and brought 8 more home with me.  At $1.50 per gel, I consider that a real win!  On lap two I made friends with some single speeders from Team Camelstache in Boston.  I also think it was the first time I’ve ever heard “you ride like a single speeder!” as a compliment.  Thank you, Team Camelstache. Thank you.  That was also the point I decided I should actually start riding and putting some efforts in.  On lap two I also realized that I was burning up my brakes alarmingly fast.  By the third lap I had the barrel adjuster all the way out and could still pull those levers all the way to the bar with little effect.  

On the third lap, I entered into Hammer gel dementia.  I was very talkative up to this point and heckling the guys I was passing - in retrospect I do feel a little bad.  ;)  In the third lap I hardly ran into anyone except some old guy I kept passing only to drop my chain and get passed again.  I don’t really remember anything else, except my ass and hands hurting.  A rigid 29’er should really have tubeless tires if you want to have use of your hands the next day!  I pretty much stood on the pedals and “sprinted” that entire lap or so I recall it.  I finished at 78th place with a time of 8:43:47.  Compare that to last year when I was 124th with a time of 9:57:39.  Considering that I didn’t work very “hard” and really wasn't sore (except the ass/hands) the next day I’m pretty happy.  I even went for a nice 40 mile ride on that Sunday.