Dryve Factory Racing athlete, Landon Farnworth, recently jumped into the High Cascade 100 MTB Endurance race in July, that takes place right here in Central Oregon. Bringing some solid fitness and expert advice from another Dryve athlete, he was able to hammer his way to a 4th place finish amongst a stacked Elite field! Read on to learn how a 100 mile MTB race goes down!
When it comes to big ultra endurance events, there are typically two types of people: the ones that do a bunch of these types of races throughout their season and hammer from start to finish and the others are athletes that are testing themselves with the goal of being able to finish an arduous 100 mile event. I'm fortunate enough to be able to race a bunch, but 100 milers like this are hardly my forte. So, when I decided to register just a week before the race, there were definitely some nerves and butterflies.
I used the week leading up to the race to make sure I was well rested, fed and didn't have too much of a training load. Together with my fellow Dryve Wheels athlete, Stefano Barberi, I put in the research I needed combined with my local knowledge of the trails, which helped to calm down the nerves. The night before the race, we got our feed plan dialed, the course memorized and bikes ready.
The gun goes off at 5:30am, so we were out the door by 4:30am, nice and early.
The start of the course has some road and the pace was mellow, so I planned to use that as a warm-up. The temperature in town was around 45°F but as soon as we left the city limits, it dropped into the 30’s. We hit the first climb 30 minutes in and I was frozen. That 30 minutes of road offered no warm up at all.
A group of about 15 separated from the rest of the field going up the climb. Trying to get the legs going, I gave myself some breathing room, knowing that the pace would back off at the top going into a gradual downhill fireroad. Sure enough, I coasted down and regained contact with the group going into the first bit of singletrack. I was sitting top twenty but was not optimally positioned for the singletrack descent. But knowing I couldn’t do much to change at that moment, I sat in and tried to get my heart rate as low as I could. An opportunity presented itself and I was able to pass the five or so guys that were between me and the rest of the field that had gapped my group. I had enough of the descent left that I was able to link up with the next group.
There were about ten miles left till the first feed station and knowing that I was already behind on calories I used a mellow section to rehydrate and down some gels. This led to the first technical climb that consisted of a steep loose fireroad that had 18-inch logs laid down for erosion control. Everytime we had to hop over one, all momentum was gone making for some hard climbing. Luckily, it didn't last too long and within five minutes, we were back on singletrack.
This paired with the descent leading into the first feed stop offered offered some relief from the previous effort. This feed was at mile 30 and I rolled through in the top ten. I took on another bottle and six more gels, before heading out. The next aid was 26 miles out and the way there was all singletrack. I took every opportunity to gain time on the downhill, leading into a major climb before the second aid. Thirty minutes prior to the aid, I backed it off in preparation for the climb. Even though I had ridden the climb a week and a half before, I massively overestimated its difficulty. In the long run, this probably played to my advantage as it was still in the first half of the race.
At the next feed, the volunteers were amazing and got my drop bag to me very quickly. I restocked on both bottles and another six gels, grabbed two PB and J’s before heading out to the next section. Just before dropping into the next twenty-four miles of singletrack, I was told I was sitting in sixth position. I made quick work of the technical descent and managed to pass one racer and catch another. I stayed behind Cody, knowing that it was smarter to have someone to ride with, then try and push hard solo. Knowing the rest of course well and that I was now sitting in fifth, I rode conservatively to make sure I had some firepower for the finish. All that was left was a climb, descent, climb and descent with an aid station separating the two sets. With the twenty miles of singletrack prior to the first of the two climbs making it hard to eat, I was behind on nutrition and suffered hard on the climb, until the sugar kicked in. I regained the time I had lost on the climbs on the descent and I knew it was a make or break going into the final aid station if I wanted to secure fourth.
I had an empty bottle on the bike and a full one in my jersey pocket, I ditched the empty one, replaced it with the full one before taking on three more gels from Shane.
I downed all three gels before leaving the parking lot of the feed zone. There were twenty miles of course left and only one sixteen hundred foot climb before descending all the way down. Knowing that Cody would have me on the climb, I dug as hard as I possibly could to hold the small lead I had created at the aid station. I managed to hold onto it, just long enough to reach the final descent. From there, I used that last bit of life I had in me to pin it. There were 10 miles of downhill before the final five of pavement. Once on the road, I was constantly looking over my shoulder. On the straight aways we could see each other but it was still evident that there was a significant gap. I rolled across the finish line with a time of 8:10:54 and in fourth place!
A long race like this gives you a lot to take in and as I sit here the morning after, I’ve had time to really reflect on everything! I must say, one-hundred milers are brutal and I woke up with some serious aches and pains from the 8+ hours in the saddle! Everything really fell into place for me on race day, which I attribute to some smart decisions regarding nutrition and pacing, topped off with a little bit of luck to bring it all together!
Gotta give out some well-deserved thanks to the race promoter, Mike Ripley and his crew from Mudslinger Events for putting on a great event and the amazing volunteers that helped support all the racers along the course. My teammate and main man, Shane Johnson, for nailing the feeds and making the best cookies ever and fellow Dryve Athlete, Stefano Barberi, (congrats to him on 3rd!), for being the expert and letting me in on all the secrets! I’m already looking forward to next year when I get to take on this awesome race again!