Pretty much ever 100 mile race I have gone to over the last three years has given me a beer glass either for registering or as a finishing award. Needless to say, I have accumulated a pretty significant amount of beer glasses during this time. This past weekend I added another glass to my collection after finishing the Shenandoah 100. Grabbing a glass out of a filled cupboard of old race glasses for a drink of water or any other beverage can certainly awaken some old race memories with the collection I have built.
As my collection of glasses has grown over the years, so has the NUE Race Series. It is amazing how fast the 100 mile races have become. It is also pretty cool to see how many people are getting into doing these long races. Only two years ago, I was able to finish 5th overall with a time of 7 hours and 48 minutes. This year I finished 9th with a time that was 13 minutes faster than 2007. I might be getting faster, but it seems as if so is everybody else.
I changed things up a little for this race by using gears instead of riding a single speed bike. After racing all season with only one gear, it was certainly nice to use the "easy button, " as Staples Office Store might call changing gears. The thing I liked most about using gears was being able to throw my chain into the big ring on the fast, flat sections on the course. Climbing has never bothered me too much on my single speed, but I must admit it was nice going into an easier gear every once in a while. Which bike do I prefer to race, geared or single speed? I would say without a doubt it would be the single speed. It was nice experimenting with a geared bike again, but I will definitely be racing a single speed mtn bike again next season.
There was not a lot of drama in my race. I guess because it really did not have any real meaning to my season or the series and because I definitely did not suffer as bad as when I race on a bike with only one gear. My main goal was to beat my PR time from 2007, which I was able to do. I think the experience I have gained from racing so many 100 mile races over the past few years definitely helped with lowering my time. Additionally, my time was made faster by a strong group of riders with which I spent much of the day. Jens Neilson, Blair Saunders, Rob Lichtenwalner, Greg Kuhn and I all seemed to work well together during the race. It is always good to race with guys that want to work and it is kind of frustrating when there is one in the group that doesn't want to help out with the pulls.
Anyway, I earned a ninth place finish at Shenandoah and another beer glass to go with it. Now that mtb season is officially over for me, it is time to start cyclocross racing. My first cross race is next weekend in Cleveland and I will be racing cyclocross ever weekend from then until Nationals in December. See you at the races! - Gerry