What do you do when, you haven’t ridden your bike more than 30 miles since Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure and you need a fix? Well you sign up for the Wild 100 in West By God Virginia, that’s what you do.
I only had a small idea of what I was getting myself into. Its called the Wild 100 because the promoter tries to design the course so that you ride approximately 100 kilometers. My ally and drinking partner Mr. Pisgah Adventure and I rode up to the Elk River Touring Center on Friday, made quick work of camp and got busy doing what we do best.
After dinner, I just couldn’t help myself and being a socialite I took up advice as to where I could find the rock stars of this race. I was told that the rainbow ended at the back of the campground where the fire was.
A quick reconnaissance turned up nothing but sleeping bodies, the only people left standing on Friday night were from Pisgah (I was lumped into this group by default.) We had two individuals and one team representing the area.
I had prepared myself for a HUGE day in the woods as I had no idea where I was going and I had to somehow find 5 checkpoints deep in the woods on this strange land.
I opened my map and immediately knew what trail I was taking, the 8 miles of decently graded singletrack named Props Run. I took off quick and kept up with some racer types just so I wouldn’t have to pull the map out for a few minutes. After I knew I was on the right trail and steadily ascending, I set to my all day pace and was passed over and over again. I knew I was going slowly but I knew that a slow warm up would be the only way for me to survive.
It wasn’t long and I had nabbed my first checkpoint and I had to check the map for checkpoint two. It looked as though a trail named Gauley Mountain was the only way to go so I set out for the gravel grind to this trail. Along the way I chatted with John a rider on a rigid NINER who was obviously teaming up with another group who knew the way much better than John and I. Unknown to me at the time, John was my only competitor for the day as we were the only two in the “First Timers” class.
As John and his group yo yo’d with me back and forth we chatted about where we were from and what trails we liked. Then we found Gauley Mountain Trail and they paused, I wasn’t ready to stop so I pedaled on down the trail. Gauley Mountain was in horrid shape, endo inducing hub deep mud puddles littered this trail. There was virtually no dry singletrack to be had over the course of the trail. Adding insult to injury, it started to rain and then pour buckets. Gauley “Mountain” was flat and I was pissed off at this trail so I wanted it to be over as quick as possible. Adding absurdity to injury, my swim trunk cover ups started breaking the laws of physics. I started to hammer but as I spun the bike up to speed my trunks would catch the seat bolt clam wrenching my spinning legs to an immediate halt. I eventually had to roll up and “peg” my swim trunks so I could spin.
Once Gauley Mountain ended, I was forming a better attitude despite the fact that it was still raining. At least I was riding my bike rather than rafting the high seas of Gauley Mountain.
I made it to checkpoint two much faster than what I had thought it would take and relished in the fact that my lighter still worked. Now that my head was properly in the game, I was ready to start clicking off checkpoints.
I knew the next single track coming up was the premier downhill of the day so once on top of Tea Creek Mountain, I pulled out my fresh gloves and enjoyed a killer descent of 4 miles to Tea Creek Campground where checkpoint 3 awaited my arrival.
For motivation, I decided to ask if I was the first “First Timer” into the checkpoint. She informed me that I was so I took a long look at my map and ate my roast beef sandwich loaded with mustard. I figured the best route to checkpoint 4 was a trail named Turkey Point. Later that night, I would find out that I was the sole racer that took this trail. It was a steep beast of a hike a bike in the beginning and after another pep talk at the bottom I started making up banjo songs about Turkey Point as singing at the top of my lungs seemed to drown out the fact that I was walking alone next to the Drunken Monkey. In all actuality, I was in the best mood I had been in all day.
Once on top of the ridge, the riding was incredible. In my mind, I was the luckiest racer to be the only one who took this trail. It was completely covered in bright green moss that contrasted the dark skies and fog that loomed all day. Encompassed in the moss were rocks, rocks and more rocks. There was some awesome descending and then I found myself at the intersection of Bear Pen which I knew had the shelter where checkpoint 4 loomed. It was another low point as I pushed my way up to the shelter but eventually I made it.
I realized that most everyone else was taking a different route as I descended back to my favorite trail on the mountain Gauley. I had already looked and knew I didn’t have to ride much of Gauley on the way to checkpoint 5. Otherwise I would have gladly climbed 4 more mountains to avoid this muddy POS. Out onto the Gravel that would take me to checkpoint 5 I climbed and sung songs about water and beer as I hadn’t had a beer yet today and was out of water. At some point, probably the peak of my song I buzzed right by one of my turns and didn’t notice for about 15 minutes of descending, OUCH. I checked the map and then cussed at myself for every turn of the cranks back up the hill. I ended up being without water for 45 minutes. I passed some streams I could have bleached water out of but I figured I would make it to the checkpoint before it purified anyway.
The promoter Gill was at checkpoint 5 along with one of sons and a dog. The dog started licking my legs while I sipped my beer and drank a coke. When I sat down the dog licked my arms incessantly so I poured some beer on my arm for him to drink. We were best friends. I announced that it was too dangerous to drink 24 ounces of liquid courage before descending my last 8 miles down Props Run to the finish so I poured the rest out and fixated my mind on not getting hurt. Strangely enough, I really enjoyed the descending and the 8 miles was over after a series of a million grunt inducing creek crossings. There aren’t too many smooth spots on these trails around Elk River Touring Center.
I crossed the line after 11 and some odd hours of trudging through the woods for a solid first place. John who I found out was my only competition at the awards came in about an hour after me.