“Where’s this David Cook guy?” ripped me out of a semi relaxed state of welcomed non-stimulus after 101 miles of rushing thoughts, focus, attentiveness and sweat. I was sitting on the grass, cross legged, eyes closed, with my back against the blow up Kenda banner at the race finish. Apparently another Clydesdale racer didn’t like seeing his name in second place on the results page because he was questioning the race director for David Cook and a scale. Much to this fellows surprise, “he’s right here” directed at him from my mouth with the same tone he addressed the race director, seemed to stop him in his tracks. I guess he heard me, but assumed someone would present them self to him. I didn’t. I knew what he wanted…my digits on a scale. The race director, went for the scale with said questioning racer in tow. The racer came back to where he heard me announce my presence from the comfort of my make shift Kenda pillow and was looking around. I looked up at him and said “I’m David Cook”. He looked at me and said “oh”. His expression showed that his hope of finding a sub 200 lb fellow disguised as a clydesdale was left somewhere back on one of the five mile climbs behind us. All he could say was “where did you come from?”. The curtness and courtesy extended to me was reflected back at him in my voice, stare and body language. I started to get up and he said “no, keep your seat” but I insisted. As I stood, he acknowledged, with a smile, an understanding of not having seen a number less than 200 on any working scale since early high school. After our brief encounter, all was good. We smiled and laughed and talked about the race. I didn’t really feel like standing anymore but it was fun talking to a fellow racer.
I dropped about an hour off my time compared to last year and evidently this fellow won last year and was surprised for some competition. My memory from last year was obviously wrong because I thought I’d have to get a sub 9 hour time to place. With this in mind, I checked the Clydesdale results from the bottom up, reading each name closely. My eyes could see the top name coming close and still I wasn’t on the list. Then I came to the top name. My eyes read it then read it again and it was my name! What a surprise! I had no idea I’d won or even came close. I just went hard and when it hurt I just kept going.
The course is similar to many of the east coast 100 milers, lots of gravel and little single track. The singletrack in PA was either butter smooth or lovely loamy soil embedded with 5”-10”bone jarring rocks. The rocky sections were just as fun as I remembered from last year. But this year, my 29er full suspension added (or removed) an entire dimension to my race. What was bumpy fun last year turned into smooth, fast rolling “on your left”, “can I pass” posh, silky smooth-built for my marathon epic FS ride. Earlier in the day, as people were passing me on the flat gravel, where I usually dominate, I was swearing my new ride…I was plotting sales pitches for ebay and had visions of a feathery carbon 29er hardtail in mind. After cleaning the first rocky section, where race vultures typically hang out, I knew the huge smile on my face was the result of how much easier a FS 29er rolls technical rocks. No dice. I’m keeping the tank. Hooked. I’ll make peace with the extra weigh, like I made peace with carrying a pack in Pisgah. I zoomed through some of the hardest technical trail segments on the course like they were an extension of the smooth gravel roads.
As with anything you do multiple times, efficiency increases. This years’ climbs, albeit familiar, didn’t hurt as much as last year. I knew what to expect. I remembered the long climbs and looked forward to the short but sweet sections of Pennsylvania single track that so closely resembles the trails of home. The long day in the saddle was complemented by beautiful PA lush forests of tall trees, deep green ferns, blueberry bushes and cool crisp mountain air.
We went in with expectations of fun and plans to do our best. Mission accomplished.
Woman – 6th overall Female. 5 pro/elite finished ahead of her.
Man- 1st Clydesdale.
WNDC in da house.