Reflections on last year’s Mendocino 100 as the 2015 event approaches (July 11)
Words by Julie Kanagy; photos by Bruce Dorman
Last July, against my better judgment, I eagerly signed up for a 100 mile mountain bike race that included 11,000 feet of climbing. The Mendocino 100, organized by SuperPro Racing with volunteer support from the local Mendocino Coast Cyclists club, offers the choice between a 100 mile or 100 km (about 60 miles) race, as well as the option of a 40 mile guided fun ride for those not inclined to race.
The event took place among the redwoods situated slightly inland between Mendocino and Ft. Bragg, which is one of the rare places in California where you can ride 100 miles of non-repeating and legally bike-able dirt. The legacy of logging and tireless work of gritty locals has gifted us with a vast network of gravel and dirt roads, double-track and twisty singletrack. The fog makes the area quite cool and comfortable all summer. This trail system is mostly not sign-posted. For the race route, we relied on ribbons hanging from trees and arrows marked on paper plates on wooden stakes in the ground.
Race registration included a spot at Mendocino Campground, from which there was an enjoyable, 5 minute downhill coast by bike to the 6:45 a.m. race start. The race began and ended on the same 11 miles of easy, flat dirt road along Big River. In between was a lot of rolling dirt road to save time, along with classic, flowy singletrack trails, some of which were quite steep and technical. The section between miles 42-62 was soul-crushing even for the stronger riders. It included a never-ending set of long steep loose climbs with several false summits that made me want to cry to my Mommy! There was a would-be fun section of seriously steep downhill deer path, which required much more concentration than I had at that point. The riding did get easier toward the end of the race, including more lovely fern-filled swoopy singletrack.
For an effort of this length nutrition is critical, and I had carefully planned out my own fuel plan using all the best advice the interwebs had to offer. I realized about ten miles in that I forgot to pack both of my Hammer gel flasks, which cost me 1000+ calories of quick and easy maltodextrin rocket fuel. I had other food with me and there were five great aid stops along the route, but my plan to not have to stop much to eat was foiled. I scarfed a banana at a few stops, hardly replacing what I needed. At the last aid station, I broke down and ate junk food and Coca-Cola. Either the sugary drink, or having just 11 miles of super easy flat trail left perked me up at the end and I was sprinting with all I had left to the finish – ready to be done!
Rocking 1st place in the women’s 100 mile at 9:45:35 was Nicole Dolney, 2nd place at 11:14:04 was Ellen Sherrill, and 3rd and last was myself at 11:59:10. For the men’s 100 milers, 1st was Brian Astell at a slim 8:12:01, followed by Aaron Glick at 8:49:59, and taking 3rd was Eric Colton at 8:55:01.
I won’t bore you with the 100 km race details, other than the top gal “might” have downed several shots of whisky while shattering most of the interesting downhill Strava records.
All the top spots received prizes, but Murphy warned everyone for the last 11 mile sprint, “I don’t have any prizes worth running down a hiker.” Although my time was a wee bit slow amongst Team SuperPro’s rabid bike junkies, it was a respectable 50 seconds under my own goal time, and was generously rewarded with a giant 12-pack of Tecate.
After the podium fun, I had the best hot shower ever, a tasty organic meal prepared and grown by Chef Dave, poured some craft beer, and took a seat by the campfire to commiserate about miles 42-62 and hear everyone’s race stories. Murphy carefully listened to everyone’s gripes about the route, and promised to make it even more fun of the Type II kind next year.
You do not need to be interested in feats of endurance in order to enjoy Mendocino trails by bike. For route finding, I’d recommend either making friends with a local, booking a tour with Mendocino Bike Sprite, or locating a copy of Mountain Biking the Mendocino Coast and Beyond by Roo Harris of the Mendocino Coast Cyclists. These trails are shared with hikers and equestrians. Do your part to keep the experience of this trail network enjoyable for all.
For information about the Mendocino 100 (July 11, 2015), as well as SuperPro Racing’s other summer events Reno to Mendocino (June 25-28, 2015) and Mendocino MTB Madness (August 21-23, 2015), click here. Read this profile on SuperPro Racing’s founder and race organizer Murphy Mack, by Karen Kefauver with photos by Ted Ketai.