My story of the Stoopid 50 starts all the way back in 2010 when I DNF’ed because I missed the cut off at Aid Station 2. It rained and conditions were miserable. I crashed so many times that I was afraid my parents would think I was in an abusive relationship when I went to the beach with them the following weekend. It was so bad that it took me 4 years to return. I was even questionable about this year, but I have my eye on the Tran-Sylvania Epic for next year, so I knew I had to do it or the TSE was out.
I got up there early with my friend Marc, since he was doing the Rothrock Trail Mix on Saturday and the Stoopid 50 on Sunday. I was way too worried about Sunday to do that, but it gave me lots of time to pre-ride. I rode with my friend Diane and her boyfriend on Tussey ridge. If you ride one trail in Rothrock, I think this is the one. I walked some of the tough stuff, checked out the lines, and hoped I could remember them in the race.
Sunday comes and my race starts out with a call out from Chris Scott at the start line, which was pretty cool, and a good confidence boost. Three of my closest nemesis were there, so I knew anything could happen. We climbed to the ridge, and when we got there people were sort of fighting for position and trying to get around me. When we got to the first two big rock gardens that had people off their bikes, I floated right on through while dudes walked their bikes and watched. After that, people were not so eager to pass, and I knew it was going to be a good day.
The trails were in absolutely perfect shape, and I never knew that rocks could flow so well. The sun was out, the forest was beautiful, the mountain laurels were in bloom; you just couldn’t ask for a better day. Usually when I notice the flowers, I figure that means I need to ride harder. However, I didn’t really trust my fitness to really race this race, so I enjoyed the flowers instead. I figured that if I had anything left after the rocks, I could use it on the fire roads where I could get more speed for the effort. But even at my relaxed pace, I was catching guys in the rock gardens, which is unheard of for me.
After Aid Station 2, I knew it was a fire road grind to the end, although I had never ridden this section before. I knew that Jen Tillman was ahead of me in third place, so I chased the thought of her for the last 17 miles which seemed to somehow be completely uphill.
I have heard horror stories about the last descent to the finish, so arriving there was not exactly a relief from the climbing. It was sketchy at the top as it was pretty steep, off camber, and had big chunky rocks. The only positive thing was that it was totally dry. Maybe it wouldn’t have quite so bad if I didn’t just ride 49 miles, but I walked most of the top, and then survived my way down the rest. The bottom section was new and fun, with some nice flowy stuff and this crazy but cool rock armored section.
I never caught Jen, but she was only 6 minutes ahead at the finish. I was pretty happy with 4th place, but even more happy with my riding for the day in general. I also really appreciated Chris Scott’s ability to put together a really fantastic course.