White Rock 100 Recap

7 Feb

You may have heard of the White Rock 100. If not allow me to spin the tale of 14 intrepid cyclists that undertook the journey on the 30th of January 2011.

First, you will need to understand what the White Rock is and what it means to cyclists in the Northwest of Arkansas. The WR100 is a beautiful ride that tests the limits of riders mental and physical strength, but rewards with breathtaking vistas, quiet roads, and the memory of a truly special day on the bike.

White Rock Mountain Recreation Area is maintained and owned by the US Forestry Service. It is located in the Boston Mountains and boasts some of the best views and most quiet cabins in the state. It is a very popular destination for area hikes and nature lovers. As the crow flies it is about 27 miles from Fayetteville, but if one were to travel the county back roads the distance is fifty miles from the center of Fayetteville. And then you have to go back. So the total distance is 100 miles. OK no big deal right but here’s the kicker 20 miles of this ride are paved. That’s right 80 miles of dirt road on this one.

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/26660860

The ride is always just a loosely organized ride with no support and really no place to stop for supplies except for the turnaround point at white rock. This means that mostly only riders with experience show up to temp fate and test their fitness and mental toughness.  It is not a race but never the less it always turns into one. Either a race against your team buddy to see who can set a new course record. (Which by the way is still held by Pat Zimmerman and doesn’t look to be broken anytime soon) A race against mental and physical fatigue that can make you want to cry. Ultimately, it can become a race against time to make it back before dark. It is a Fayetteville tradition that has grown into one of the mythical rides of the Northwest Arkansas area.

The 2011 ride started as a birthday wish. Branton, (that’s me) who works at the Highroller Cyclery turned 31 on the 30th of Jan. It was my hope to do the ride with some friends and have a good time of it while proving to himself that he was still relatively hard. A Facebook post and a few emails later the group assembled early on Sunday morning

Getting Geared up

The ride began amicably enough with every one staying together and moving slowly through the double pace line chatting and going on about this and that not fully acknowledging what they were undertaking. As we made the turn that leads up to the first dirt section it was apparent that the S__t was about to hit the fan as a line of blue and black Snapple riders formed and moved menacingly to the front of the group. As soon as we could see the dirt it was on! All that was for sure is that Ben was doing his now patented White Rock Attack and the rest of us were left to chase or just pick up the pieces.  After the Tilly Willy bridge I noticed that I had already lost one of my bottles (a good reason to not try out new bottle cages on the WR100).

I knew I wouldn’t make it with out the bottle so I slowed to go find it. Nathan had snagged it and was flying up the road toward me. I got the bottle but could tell he was on a mission to catch the lead group now up the road a bit. I knew from our ride together the previous week he was riding well, and I also knew that I had not ridden further than 36 miles since early December. I backed off and found Pip and Quinn, and we were shortly Joined by Bob Cable. Our small group was joined by Dennis and Dave until the first major climb.

As we climbed up Wallin Mtn I rode back with Dennis for a while admiring the homemade fenders he had fashioned for himself after marking the course the day before.  Dennis said I should not wait for him and I moved up the road to see what the others were up to.

Quinn was on his Beautiful IF single speed. His cadence was slow, but he was managing quite well on the climb. Pip and I moved on past him, but waited at the top for a while only to discover that he had turned back. I was glad to have had him with us for a while and had the opportunity to check out his new bike.

Pip and I  rode on together for the rest of the way to WR. Pip is a WR veteran and this year it was especially important for us to finish. (The 2010 edition on the WR100 was a poorly planed and executed endeavor. It  ended in Pip crashing hard and injuring his hip for a few months, and all the participants ending up in the back of a van getting a ride back to Fayetteville. )

I enjoy riding with Pip. Like myself, he doesn’t feel the need to constantly chat or make observations about the course etc. We rolled along in awe of such a great day and such magnificent scenery. Soon enough we came across a rider happily riding in the opposite direction as us, toward home. It was Ben with a big grin on his face. Pip and I congratulated ourselves on our toughness, but later when we were both hurting and considered several bail points we understood. We kept on our course and trudged up the last four climbs to WR together.

Nickle's Bike

Once we made it to the turn around we met up with Bob, Nickle, Wade, Gary, Dennis, and Dave. I drank a coke, ate a turkey sandwich, and bought some candy bars that I hoped would fuel me back to Fayetteville. I had some serious doubts that I would make it though. Wade bailed there and rode back in with Gary in the truck. I seriously considered it too.

Bob, Pip, Nickle, and I started together on the way back but fairly soon it was Bob and I alone together trudging on ahead on the climbs that leave the rec area. Bob is an amazing rider. He has more miles in his legs than most people probably drive in a lifetime. He goes the same speed uphill as he does on the flats (which is pretty quick). I struggled to keep up on the first three punchy climbs, and he finally broke me on the final climb up to Brannon Mtn. I rode alone and hurting for a good five  miles or so.  I started in on my candy. It worked;  I felt like someone had given me a IV of jet fuel. My bike felt like it had no chain and yet I was flying over the gravel roads faster than I ever remember riding them before.

I saw Bob again only briefly as i came by him on the run up to the last steep kicker of a climb that I call the Koppenberg. I thought he would catch me on the climb but my legs wouldn’t let me slow and I rolled over the top and directly into the long fast paved decent into Hazel Valley.

I met up with Nathan in the valley. He was confused about where the route went and I was glad to see him. We rode together for a bit until I stopped to drink a coke. At that point Ali and Dan were coming up the road like a freight train. I guess they had taken a wrong turn and had climbed and additional mtn. Ali looked really strong on her new cross bike. I was expecting to quickly drink my coke and then catch onto the train as the caboose. Unfortunately, the coke didn’t agree with my over worked stomach and I had to just soft pedal a couple of miles until I got it out of my system.  I could still see them in the distance but never got on top of my gear to catch them. I was alone again.

Dave and Dennis on the long ridge grave of Brannon Mtn

About halfway back on Whitehouse rd I was again surprised to see a rider heading in the opposite direction. It was even stranger when I realized it was Pat! He had gotten into town and headed straight out on the course with food and drink for the riders. Very classy Pat. It was much appreciated by all of us. Next year we will all be chasing him.

I made it back to the house in just over nine  hours from the time I had left that morning. After showering I headed out in search of some food. On my way back from the Hog Haus I ran into Pip and Nickel who had just made it in. I got word that Dennis and Dave were pulling up shortly and were the last ones on the course. Success! All persons accounted for.

Thanks to all who attended this great day on the bike. See you next year.

Branton

Here are a few more pics courtesy of Nickel

The last climb up to WR

A little snow from a ride the week before

Another View

A random tower at the top

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4 Responses to “White Rock 100 Recap”

  1. Patricia February 8, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    Pretty awesome! Im a pretty slow movin ametuer but certainly aspire to that kind of greatness. Thanks for the blog!

    • highrollercyclery February 8, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

      Believe me, we were all moving at very different speeds. With a little perseverance and preparation you could do this next year.

  2. Ali Racheotes February 8, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    The ride was epic! -Denis, thanks for marking the trail (even with the markers, Dan and I managed to add additional miles to the ride!)- Branton – thanks for the bike fit – (I road my new – Jonathan’s old – cyclocross for the first time on the white rock 100 and felt good enough to run and ride the next day)- it was great seeing everyone – Dan thanks for your wheel – Mark and Reilly, salute –

    • highrollercyclery February 8, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

      Ali, glad to hear the fit and bike did well for you.

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