PREVIOUS COLUMNS: MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE
by John Petrylak
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After a season of relatively shorter races July rolled around and it was time for an old familiar friend. Chris Scott's Wilderness 101 in beautiful Coburn PA!
Keeping the theme going for the year the week leading up to the race was seasonal temperatures. But....according to the 5 day forecast race day would be "dangerously hot". This was exciting news to me; you see I am certain that no place on earth will be as hot as Marathon Nats was in GA earlier this year so any heat would be easy to deal with! Upon arriving at the Coburn community park and setting up camp it was HOT for sure. Also some buzz about a longer, tougher W101 course was spreading.
I did a little course recon and put out a few efforts to open the legs up. After an awesome dip in the beautiful creeks that borders the park and a little dinner it was time to shut down for the evening.
4:45am and the alarm was whaling in my ear; I ate the "Bishop training breakfast" and started to warm up.
The first 10 miles of this race seems to never stop going up. The pace was for real going up and I questioned if I should be going this deep only 20 minutes inðŸ˜³
After aid station 1 the large group started splintering. Another big climb towards aid station 2 and the group was down to 10 riders of which I was one. Somehow my drop bag got lost in the shuffle but I hunted it down and jumped on my bike with 2 fresh bottles charging hard to catch back on. The lead group was like an NUE Champion convention. Christian Tanguy, Brian Schworm, Wadsworth, Heath Thumel, Stewart Gross, Aaron Snyder and Francis Cuddy.
After some brutal attacking by Christian the group started to look different; as in I was no longer part of it!
Sometimes you just gotta know exactly what your limits are.
For the next 50 miles I rode without another soul in sight. After the final big climb out of aid station 5 I felt reinvigorated and started to catch a few guys toward the closing miles of the race. On the final climb of the day I overtook 7th place and kept that position until the finish line.
After the W101 my focus has turned completely to the Shenandoah Mountain 100 "the godfather of 100 mile MTB races".
I'm fortunate to have been able to get some really great course recon this year and very specific race preparation from Bishop Training.
A few weeks after the W101 I jumped in on Mark's Guts/Gravel/Glory race at Pocahontas State Park. The venue was great and it made for some fast racing...My friend Joe Fish crushed it for the win in a crazy stacked field with Keck and Charlie a second behind him and super talented Adam Croft right on their wheels!
However, before the SM I am looking forward to the 3rd installment of the Montgomery Hall Park race series put on by our friends at Black Dog Bikes. The VORS is getting some great momentum going as we head into the fall; I know I can't wait to turn some midnight to 6am laps at the 18 hours Scouts Honor race with the rest of you craziesðŸ˜
As I am thinking of all of the races coming up I am thankful for the promoters and volunteers that make racing mountain bikes possible in Virginia. Without all of you it would make for some pretty boring weekends.
ABOUT John Petrylak
At 37 years old with 2 busy kids involved in travel soccer, karate and ballet I gotta get creative sometimes to fit in my training. If it wasn't for my wife Amanda keeping things together none of this could happen.
I grew up riding my bicycle everywhere it was my most prized possession! That turned into riding and eventually racing dirt bikes. I raced motocross off and on from the early 90's through 2009. During this time I always rode my mountain bike to cross train but I was never serious about racing it. Then I was invited to participate in a 24 hour race on a 4 man team in 2010. After the first lap I was hooked!
I sold my dirt bike, started losing weight and rode the wheels off my mountain bike. Cycling has brought so many wonderful people into our lives and has created too many wonderful family memories to count. I started racing my mountain bike late in life but I'm happy to make up lost time!