“Hi Gina, I am so sorry to put you in this position but I am going to miss the pre race meeting tonight and will not be able to load up the aid station bins … um … I am thinking about just turning around and going home.”, I babbled to the race director over the phone as I drove towards Butte at around 95 mph. I had missed it, the “big race” of the year and I was totally frustrated. I wouldn’t of even been able to call the director and apologize if it were not for my good friend who drove all the way to the Outdoorsman in Butte to alert Gina to the situation.
“No worries Bill … really … this is no big issue. We have you covered. Just meet me at the starting line at 5 AM sharp an I will get you all squared away”
For the last two weeks I have been totally off the radar and in my own world of new town new job. I haven’t updated or even posted any social web updates. I guess when things feel good an outlet, like my blog, this blog, isn’t needed as much. But as I mentioned to a friend this morning I do not want to become distant to the people who matter most. Specially now that my friends, um family, for the past 6 years are in another distant place. All I needed was a reminder that they are still out there. I was not forgotten, in fact I was expected. Besides, I could let down Chad who had my bike ready to rock and traveled all the way from Hamilton to participate.
So I arrived late at Homestake Pass and plopped down my tent and drifted off to sleep. I was there at 5 AM to sign up and get my timing chip. I scrounged up enough bottles to fill with Carbo Rocket and stock the check station bins. I went back to my car to put the final preparations on my race get-up. GPS, some tools, two tubes, one taped to my frame, and of course a couple Action Wipes … just in case. I glanced at my watch and realized I had ten minutes to start time. I suddenly realized I had no bottles or Carbo Rocket to start the first 20 or so miles. I asked friends but no one had any to spare. I quickly grabbed a bottled water and lined up. And then we were off.
I often wonder if I am the only one who struggles the way I do with certain life events. It seems to me no matter how much I think I have moved on it is not until I reach a certain point in some event that I realize I have been carrying some sort of baggage. For one year I have been haunted by my poor performance of last years race. And now that I was careening down a mountain with David “Tinker” Juarez. I glanced back to see that we were pulling away from the field and I internally berated myself for going out so hard. I realized that even though I was not peaking for this race and I wanted to hang back I had a vendetta with the Butte 100. John Curry joined up and the three of us rode on.
Last years Butte 100. I totally focused on that one race and it ended up the worst disaster of the year. I was lucky to even finish the damn thing. No matter how many times I thought I was over it I couldn’t help but feeling some bits of disappointment at times and think back to the “why” and “what if”. I even tried to put a band-aid in place by re-designing my training philosophy. And then there was the “my friends accomplishments are more important” excuse. I felt, quite suddenly, that I had to put that bad experience to rest. I guess moving forward is the only way to put distance on “things”. All this swirling around in my head as I rode behind John and Tinker … and we put more distance on the chase pack.
The worst thing you can say, in life, is that you want to do it all over again. And I don’t. It was a good year, found love, found pain, and lost. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Why then would I want to do the Butte 100 the way I did it last year all over again? I decided to back off and let John and Tink climb up into Elk Park ahead of me. I slowed to a maintainable pace and that, in the long run be the right thing to do. Last year I blew up hard after going all out for three hours. This year I decided I could go faster by going at “Bill Speed” … which is slower then “John Speed” or “Tinker Speed”. The rest of the first 40 miles went on without a hitch. I eventually got my bottles of Carbo Rocket and continued on with my sustainable pace which provided me with a great un-stressful ride. I really enjoyed the Nez Perice Trail much more then in years past. Then I hit Pipestone.
Only one woman finished the Butte 100 this year and she came in late at night. I did talk to one woman who got pulled at mile 80 for missing the cut-off. Everyone was telling her how far 80 miles was and that given it was her first race how big of an accomplishment she had done. However she never agreed that she did well. I could tell that she will be back next year. I could almost see in her eyes she was planning her revenge mere hours after she was shuttled back to the venue. The look I had last year.
Pipestone is the lower part of the course. In the winter it is where we go to ride. It is hot and dry. It is like a desert, Tinker called it a desert. This is where I almost cracked. I didn’t want to go on but somehow I just kept going. At times the sand was so soft I had to walk my bike. Sand slogging I call it. The sun was intense and I felt like my exposed skin was frying like bacon in a frying pan. The sand underfoot was so hot it was baking my feet inside my shoes. I just kept drinking Carbo Rocket even though I felt that any moment I was going to throw up. Then I got internal chills. I imagine myself falling to my knees first and then just going down face first. I was going to become vulture food. Plus I just knew this would be a cramp fest once I got on my bike again.
It seemed like an eternity until I finally reached the 50 mile checkpoint. As I approached I contemplated quitting. Maybe I am just wasting a good life span. I am finally starting to realize that the cloud of a bad job has lifted. I feel great at the new job. Just yesterday I went across the street to a store that is just like the Good Food Store and had some chicken curry soup. I sat there eating and looking out
at the mountains thinking how cool things were. I started to feel like I had arrived. And now that i was entering the start finish area to complete 50 miles I started to hear cheers. No way I was going to quit. I was only 50 miles away from finishing.
I finally did start cramping but a quick dose of endurolytes held them at bay. The last 50 miles was uneventful as i just continued on at my sustainable pace. I started to feel better just as a storm came in and dumped some cold rain on us. That felt so good. The more I rode towards the finish the better I felt. Another 100 miles and I would have this race in the bag. Darn short races 😉
I have been doing this race for so long that everyone knows me and the last aid stations were like going along visiting family on a long road trip. Next thing I know … I was done. It felt good to put in a solid effort but not to the point of burying myself. Sure I almost died in the desert but overall I feel that I could of gone and been up there with the leaders, maybe even set the course record myself.
But I held back a schooch and now I leave tomorrow for my second hundie in two weeks. This one promises to be just as grueling. You never know … maybe the Butte 100 whipped me into shape.
3rd place in my 5th Butte 100.
- 2007 – 07:25:30 (Old Course)
- 2008 – 9:49:50
- 2009 – 10:52:35
- 2010 – 11:27:36
- 2011 – 10:29:31