Racing the High Cascades 100, Round Two

The ride summary of a fellow racer in the High Cascades 100 mtb race were two sentences not often found together: “Fun day. GI issues for 20 miles, plus 2 code browns.”

Riiiight. Fighting a lurching stomach while pooping yourself twice is everyone’s idea of a fun day! Perhaps only for types with screws loose enough to race 100 miles on a mountain bike?

Clearly I’m one of them. At least I wasn’t the racer with the code browns!

High Cascades 100 Race Report, Round Two

I raced the High Cascades 100 in 2017 to explore Bend’s trail network during training and test myself against an intimidating distance. Before that year, I’d never ridden more than 50 miles straight on a mountain bike.

For my second High Cascades 100 attempt in 2019, I scored a free entry a week before the race. Compared to my previous structured efforts, my training plan was a bit different. By which I mean…uhhh, I didn’t have one. Hey, it’s only 9-10 hours of riding, so what could go wrong?

What could go wrong beyond getting veryyyy dusty, that is.

Training For The Race

Don’t let me mislead you. I wasn’t off the couch given that Chelsea and I had bike toured through Spain and Portugal that spring. As an ambassador for Pine Mountain Sports in Bend, I also led a HC100 training series in June and July. Those were 40, 55, and 70 mile rides at a “non-conversational” pace (about 10 mph average).

A bunch of crazy mountain bikers ready for a training ride.

That first 40-miler in June didn’t go well. I’d traveled for 30 hours from Europe the day before and was jet lagged, dehydrated and unprepared for the powerful bursts of energy that mountain biking requires. Thirty miles in, both my quads felt like a viper’s fangs were buried in them every time I got out of the saddle.

I survived (without antivenom) and did regular rides into July. For the final 70 mile ambassador ride, we all pushed hard and I finished feeling great.

Hang on. The race is going around Mt. Bachelor this year, you say? What’s that, a free entry is available?

Count me in.

My Results

Let’s start with the numbers (here are the details on Strava)

  • Total Mileage: 101.2
  • Race time: 9:27 hours (pace of ~10.5 mph)
  • Total vertical gain: 9,974 feet
  • Finishing place out of 388 riders: 40th (better by 25 places versus my 2017 time)
  • Hours behind the winners: over 1.5. HOW DO THEY GO SO FAST?!

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All the details. The vert on this map was off according to most people’s GPS. What’s 1000′ anyway?

Race Report/Memorable Moments:

Morning: I wake up at 4:45 and eat my standard breakfast, oatmeal with fruit. I pedal to the starting line in the dark.

Mile Zero: I’m less nervous this time around compared to 2017. I’m confident 100 miles is doable. Still, the energy is palpable and I’m fired up. The starting line song “How You Like Me Now?” by The Heavy will be stuck in my head

Let’s do this!

Mile 9: As planned, I hang with the front peloton through the road section to the climb at Tyler’s, chatting with various people that I recognize. It’s striking how connected I feel to the Bend community compared to 2017.

Last time, my mantra was “slow on the uphill, steady on the flats, free speed on the downhill.” This year, I’m planning to be on the gas more, riding that anaerobic threshold.

Mile 17: the first singletrack descent features Spandex-clad racers exploding in horror at the sight of any rocks. My chance to make up time! Next is a fire road past Wanoga Sno-Park, then back up the sandy hell pit along the highway to Mt. Bachelor. A woman on a single speed (!) is haaaammering up the fire road. I’ll catch her on the steeper climbs when she runs out of gears, but sheesh, she’s strong.

Back on singletrack for the climb and descent down to Swampy Sno-Park. I’m feeling good and pushing hard. I roll into Swampy at mile 30, ready to switch out my hydration pack and grab food from Chelsea…wait, where is she? WHOOPS, I’m ahead of schedule. (She arrives shortly after, phew.)

Rookie move, D! Two minutes lost. So much for my chances of winning HAAA.

Next up is a fun section of singletrack down to Skyliner Snopark…sayonara to the morning climbing as I head downhill. I know these trails cold and it’s a pleasure ripping along in the morning light. Long races are taxing due to maintaining focus, but I rarely find my mind drifting or feeling emotionally exhausted from any big mountain bike ride.

It’s not all hard work!

Mile 42: Back on the climb train. I continue to stay on the gas and feel great up Tumalo Ridge. I’m playing cat and mouse with the same riders as we yo-yo along. Fun fact about 100 mile races: chatting with people as you race isn’t that uncommon.

Mile 57: Aid station at Mt. Bachelor! Cheery volunteers hand me my food drop bag. Unfortunately, other than delicious, salty pickles (SO GOOD), I’m not feeling that hungry during this race and don’t feel like eating my PBJ wrap (<–foreshadowing). Pushing one’s athletic limits pulls blood from the stomach to extremities, which is why so many endurance athletes experience GI and stomach distress during races. As if the exercise isn’t hard enough?

Mile 57-71: Ohhh man, the downhill part around the backside of Bachelor is a blast. It’s a loose, fast jaunt, especially tailing a fast rider from Colorado. The hard effort means I don’t get a chance to eat anything (risk of dying from crashing outweighs my hunger) or drink much. That’s fine though, it’s not like the climb up Edison Lava is hard af, riiiight?

Mile 73: Poor fueling catches up with me. My legs weigh 1,200 pounds and I’m walking my bike. (So are others.) Sections of Edison are steep, rocky and sandy face punches after eight hours of pedaling. Smiles are…infrequent.

This energy lag isn’t fitness, it’s a fueling issue. After the race, I total my calories and I only ate 2,400. That’s about 1,400 lower than planned given my goal of 400 per hour.

I gut my way through it, walking a bit and stuffing Shotbloks down my gullet. I start to feel better, but sure get sick of sugary carbs during these long rides. If only pickles sported substantial calories!

At least there was watermelon later.

Mile 80: Chelsea and our friend Jules jump up and down in the aid station. Jules, a recent arrival from New Jersey’s suburbs, is wide-eyed watching the crazed, spittle-covered riders coming through. I eat a few bites of PBJ wrap, crunch a pickle (delicious again) and swap my hydration pack.

My energy levels are still lagging thanks to not eating. I dog it for another 10 minutes and a couple riders pass me (nooo) before I pull out of my torpor. Not like it matters where I place since I’m not contending for the podium, but…you know, competitive spirit!

By the time I hit the top of Tyler’s Traverse again, I’m ready to go. From there, it’s a hard push on singletrack for miles (Tiddlywinks, Stormking, Catch and Release). For the last highway section, three of us form a pace line and hammer it home on Cascades Lake Highway. We’re doing 25 mph on and my legs smolder, then burst into fiery pillars of torched muscle from the effort.

They drop me with a mile to go and I roll into the finish line solo but grinning, 40th overall. Nothing to write home about, but 25 places better than my first High Cascades 100 and this time with no structured training. I’ll take it.

The end of a long, excellent day.

I’m not tapped out though, which is better than I expected at mile 80. At the finish line, I chug (you guessed it) pickle juice, eat a little food and congratulate other riders.

Then I pedal home to sit in a bathtub full of ice, a delightful tradition for me after crusher rides. I round out the day with our monthly vegan potluck, where those behind me in line are left with empty plates in the wake of me eating all the food.

Sorry everyone. The food is all mine. (Plate 1 of 3 pictured.)

All the Details

Yes, I took training and preparation for this race less seriously than my first High Cascades 100. However, a couple years of (relatively) long-distance mountain biking prepped me for success (i.e. not collapsing on the trail or crapping in my chamois). #winning

Here are my takeaways and lessons learned from my second time racing the High Cascades 100..

My Racing Technique:

  • To avoid choking dust and crowded trails, stick with the front peloton until it hits dirt. For the HC100, that’s nine miles of road to Tyler’s Traverse (same every year to break up the crowd).
  • Steady pace for climbs, but push harder early on relative to 2017.
  • Push the descents to make up time vs people riding hardtails who crush me uphill. Impossible to make up the difference given how XC-oriented High Cascades is. Or maybe I’m just slow.
  • Not be afraid to pass on downhills. “Pass when you’re good, please” was my go-to phrase. Other riders were polite and accommodating.
  • Eat food and drink water consistently. I did the latter well, but not eating much from miles 40-70 put me in a fueling hole by mile 75 that hurt.
  • Stop as little as possible. I ended up at six minutes total split between mile 40, mile 56, and mile 80, even with the mishap with Chelsea arriving late to the first refueling.
My steed for the race: a Santa Cruz Tallboy.

My Training

Most people don’t ride a full 100 miles preparing for a race and neither did I. My longest ride was 7 hours and my maximum distance was 70 miles.
Rather than lots of back-to-back long rides, this year I just rode for fun when I felt like it. Here’s a general sense of my prep:

  • Bike touring in April/May on a heavy AF bike through Spain and Portugal. Base training!
  • This time around, I skipped all the back-to-back 3-5 hour days. However, I still think that’s the best approach for being ready physically and mentally for such a long day. I’ve logged plenty of long rides since 2017’s High Cascades 100, including ~50 miles/day for two weeks straight bikepacking the Oregon Timber Trail. I was confident my accumulated fitness would carry me along.
  • Unlike some riders, I don’t ride bike trainers or aim for heart rate zones or power thresholds. Yes, I would be faster if I did this. However, I hate it. (As I like to joke, I’d rather be slow than ride inside.) If you’re trying to podium or win an age group in a well-known race like HC100, I think it’s almost mandatory to train like that though.
  • For fitness-building threshold efforts, I simply ride uphill climbs hard for 10-30 minutes. No data, just by feel.
  • My mileage pre-race wasn’t anything crazy. In talking to other riders, it seems like 10-15 hours a week is fine for a comfortable performance.
Base training in Portugal on a lesser-traveled path.

My Food

I aim for max carbs. Your body won’t process any fat/protein that you eat during the race, so only consume those if it helps you down carbs. For me, that’s a little peanut butter in a tortilla/jelly/banana wrap.

Split carbs 50/50 fructose and glucose. We can only process a certain amount of each before uptake stops, so balance it for maximum crushing.

What I Ate

  • Shotbloks, about 2-4 blocks per hour
  • Medjool dates
  • Picky Bars (not 100% carbs, but they go down easily for me).
  • Pickles. Zero calories, but all the happiness and salt.
  • PBJ wraps with raisins and bananas. Not much peanut butter.


Same as my first HC100, I decided to a) maximize water access and b) minimize transition times. To accomplish this, I used two hydration packs that Chelsea cycled out and handed to me at the aid stations all refilled and ready to rumble. I also carried a water bottle with water, salt, and lemon water.

I used 50 oz. of water in each pack plus Skratch Labs electrolytes. The secret weapon: I made Skatch ice cubes and put those in the water on race day. Not only was cold water delicious, the ice cubes don’t dilute the electrolyte mix.

My goal was simply to drink water, and lots of it. For a race with so much singletrack, the hydration packs made it possible for me to drink basically whenever, as opposed to only on smooth trails or fireroad. My approach worked well for a second time and I’d recommend it!

Note to people trying to crush it: some kind of carb formula (Hammer, etc) mixed into water is the elixir pros dominate with. Sugar lets you buzz like a hummingbird at max sustainable output!

Or just drink pickle juice.

Lessons learned:

  • Give my aid station helpers a bigger buffer zone in case I’m ahead of schedule.
  • Eat consistently, even if it means slowing down or quickly stopping. The time gained from full energy supplies easily makes up for this. Plus bonking in a race sucks!
  • For the second time, my Santa Cruz Tallboy was the perfect bike for this race. My gear list was almost identical to last time; check it out in my original post.
  • A dust guard or mask is worth using until the 40 mile aid station. (Gawd, do we have to wear these forever?! F off, COVID.) I used a neck gaiter and it saved my lungs. I didn’t need it after the pack split up at mile 40.

Overall, I enjoyed the heck out of round two of the High Cascades 100. Mike Ripley from Mudslinger Events puts on a fantastic event, other riders are respectful and awesome, and I highly recommend checking out the race in coming years. Who knows, could even happen this July.

Ride on!

Gifford Pinchot mountain biking
Still enjoying riding a week later in the Gifford Pinchot in Washington.

One Hundred Miles On a Mountain Bike: Racing the High Cascades 100

Mile 57. I’m five hours into the High Cascades 100 mountain bike race and five miles up its longest climb. My stomach grumbles. Twists. I’ve heard that if things go wrong with the gut, it’s now. NOT TODAY. While spinning uphill, I force down a Picky Bar and ShotBlocks, then chug electrolyte water. My stomach stabilizes. I push on. At the top of the climb, I hit Farewell trail, a 3.5 mile descent that I grin through. It’s game time.

Chelsea refueling me at an aid station.

WHY Would Anyone Ride a Mountain Bike 100 Miles?

Hoooold up. Surely one of you is thinking the above. Friends’ responses ranged from, “Wow, I could never do that” to “that sounds like my private hell” to “that’s on my bucket list.” To each their own! For perspective on difficulty, High Cascades is 70 miles of singletrack, 14 miles of road (to/from the trailheads to break up the pack), and the rest on fire roads. Riders climb (and descend, wheee!) ~10,000 feet of elevation on the extensive trail system west of Bend, Oregon in the shadow of Mt. Bachelor. Here’s the map of the entire race course if you’re interested! Mike at Mudslinger Events put on a well-organized, awesome event. (Also, here is my blog post about my second shot at the High Cascades 100, which was even more fun.)

High Cascades 100 course map for 2017

A Dirty Century, as they’re called, is hard, FAR harder than 100 miles on a road bike. So much singletrack requires focus and a different kind of stamina – upper body, mental, plus legs. It’s intense, but as my buddy Aaron said, “For endurance competitions, it ain’t even fun until somebody quits.” My goal wasn’t the joy of a day ride or the camaraderie of a group road ride. I raced High Cascades as a physical test, an endurance push past anything I’d done before. It took dedicated training, days where I didn’t want to ride, a shelving of other goals. I didn’t need a reason or prize money. Personal satisfaction was enough.

The Verdict

How did it go? It was radtastic! (It’s a word. Look it up.) The race environment was stimulating, my competition was friendly, and my overall experience was positive. Yes, I worked hard. Yup, there was dust and it hit 90 degrees. All part of the challenge! Results: I finished in 9 hrs 17 min, handily beating my 10 hour goal and good for 64th out of ~400 people. I only stopped for ~2 minutes total at the aid stations and my body felt solid the entire time. Ok, ok, I could have used more chamois butter to ease the chafing from mile 70 on… I finished with energy to spare and think I could have gone below 9 hours. Still, for my first-ever mountain bike race, I’m stoked with the results! Check out the ride details here on Strava.

Done! Feeling good, if a bit dirty from all the dust…

Good Friends, Sage Advice

Let’s be clear: I didn’t race to stand on a podium. High Cascades is a popular race and attracts pro racers and badasses with sustained power output that makes my quads shiver in fear. For me, racing was simply a personal challenge. My buddy Joe, a seasoned 24 hour MTB racer, gave me two pieces of advice for my first endurance race. 1) Don’t stop and 2) Ride to finish, not for a time. Competitive numbers guy that I am, I wanted to shoot for a time – 10 hours or bust! – and so advice like Joe’s was helpful. My friend Julie, a fitness coach and endurance racer, shared a mantra that I adopted: “slow on the uphill, steady on the flats, free speed on the downhill.” For such a long ride, hard efforts early on can torch chances of success later. I stuck to Julie’s advice and am glad I did. Given the energy I had left at the end, next time I can toe the line a bit harder. Since I’m a good descender on a mountain bike, I made up time ripping downhill. That said, High Cascades is more of a cross-country race, so the people who do well are stronger climbers than descenders. It’s no enduro race!

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Snippets From Race Day

Some pros, like the famous boxer Floyd Mayweather, are relaxed before fights. As he’s said, ‘I’ve done everything I’m going to do. Nothing I do in the next little bit is going to change anything, so ain’t no use getting worried about it.” I knew I was ready, but I didn’t feel quite so laid back. Thanks to jangled nerves, I only slept a few hours the night before. (Our cat Oliver contributed, yowling all night because he gets worried when we appear to be packing for a trip.) Luckily, the training was done and only pedaling my bike remained.

Miles and miles of training, luckily some like this one of Mt. Hood that Paul is taking in.

Race Moments:

Breakfast at 4 am: I stuck with tried and true foods my stomach knew well. Green tea, a giant bowl of quinoa with fruit and nuts, plus a smoothie. Starting line at 5:30 am: 400 athletes pent up and raring to go as the sun creeps over the horizon. The gun goes off and we surge off in a giant peloton on the road toward Mt. Bachelor. It’s 9 miles of road to split the group before we hit dirt, a necessity to avoid a terrible bottleneck at the start. People chat with buddies, vie for position. Mile 9: The pack splinters as we hit the first fire road, the uphill part of Tyler’s Traverse. It’s 6.5 miles to the top and the dust clouds billow and swirl. Some racers (myself included) use a buff or bandanna to curb the dust. I’ll still feel a pinch in my lungs for a few days after the race. The hardest part on this climb is letting people pass when I know I can go harder…pace, Dakota, pace!

Riding with friends on Tylers. I didn’t even glance at this view during the race!

Mile 17: The first real downhill on Tiddlywinks, a rad jump trail. I tail a couple XC riders on their hardtail bikes, then bust a move on a jump line and pass them, grinning away. Riding bikes sure is fun…but are we really only 20% done?! Mile 24: first aid station. Nice to see Chelsea cheering away! I zoom right past as planned. Legs are feeling good! Mile 40: I share the suffering of a 3-mile steep, sandy fire road climb with a few other riders, then zip into the first aid station. Chelsea! Smiling friends! They pit stop me in 1 minute flat, NASCAR style, placing on a ice pack on my neck, stuffing new bars in my jersey, swapping water bottles and my hydration pack and pouring ice water on my arms to help cool me off. I stuff my face with homemade rice bars and hit the trail.

Best aid station team ever. Thanks for the help, Paul, Bayen, Emily and Chelsea!

Mile 52: Well THAT was a great 12 miles! Zippy singletrack, one of my favorite descents in Bend (Upper Whoops), and I passed about 15 people, including a single-speed racer looking dapper in cargo shorts and a plaid shirt. (Yes, people ride 100 miles on a single speed.) Now the hard work begins/continues with an eight-mile climb up Mrazek. Not much talking happening between racers as temps head toward 90 and the climb steepens. Mile 60: Farewell to the climbing…for a few miles, followed by a steep, rooty effort up South Fork all the way back over to the other side. My legs and energy levels are staying high and I’m starting to turn it on and pass people. Mile 75: 7 hours in, I hit Aid Station #2 after a 3-mile long, FAST sandy fire road descent. Chelsea hands me a refreshed hydration pack and a few more bars to finish the race. Ice water never tasted so good.

Mouth full of rice bars!

Miles 75-100: I start cranking harder, feeling good and knowing I’ll finish. No leg cramps, no stomach troubles! I’ve ridden these trails dozens of time and I’m still smiling, even after over 7 hours on my bike. I see a couple people hurting and taking a rest by the side of the trail and I’m thankful to have stayed out of the pain cave all day. The Finish: The last five miles are flat on pavement. I tuck and crank hard, wind whistling as I sail along. There’s a final singletrack section at the finish line and I hit a jump, a few twisty turns, and then sprint for the finish with Chelsea rooting me on.

At long last, the finish line!

I’m DONE. I hug Chelsea. My friend Tucker claps me on the back so hard I almost fall over. I feel good…and then it hits me. I’m tired. It’s hot. I need to sit down in a cold bathtub and not move my legs. Get this boy home!

Annnnd adrenaline gone. TIRED. It hit me just like that.

Aftermath, a.k.a. Did I Hacksaw My Bike to Death

My bikes are all still intact! I still like mountain biking (strangely?) and the race didn’t take TOO much out of me. In fact, the next day I spun around the neighborhood and felt great! (My chafed undercarriage, on the other hand, was scorched.) All the training paid off, I guess.

ALL THE DETAILS: Training, Gear, and Fueling

Interested in details and/or looking to race 100 miles? Read on below for allll the dorky talk about my training, the gear I used, and what I ate/drank during the race.

Training for a 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race

Similar to marathon training, most people don’t ride a full 100 miles straight preparing for the race. In fact, my longest ride was only 7 hours, and my maximum distance was only 61 miles. I focused more on volume, i.e. pedaling pedaling pedaling! Consecutive longer days (3+ hours) were the most important, since nothing emulates tired legs in a race like tired legs in a training ride. I’d crank out a 50 mile ride on Tuesday, then wake up the next day and do the last thing I wanted to do: go ride my bike a few hours. To make sure my body could handle the physical duress of a long mtb race, I focused on mountain biking and didn’t touch a road bike the entire time. For my next longer XC race, I’ll likely add a day of harder tempo/threshold road riding efforts to focus on increasing my power so I can crank harder uphill.

Typical training weeks from late June.

My destroyer-endurance-racer friend Paul’s advice was to take rest days. Actual, sanctified days off – no going for a run or climbing super hard. This felt strange, as resting is NOT my natural state. After a big block of rides, I’d sometimes take even two days – with nothing more than a spin or walk around town – to let myself fully recuperate. My rock climbing took a hit, but it’s already coming back fast. So how many hours/miles did I ride per week? Well, with all the snow this winter in Bend, I skied and rock climbed and didn’t touch my bike for months! Skate and backcountry skiing kept me fit, of course, but I wasn’t cranking on a trainer like some guys who roasted the trails at High Cascades. As the snow (finally) melted in late April after a huge snow year, I started riding frequently and started logging consistent 10+ hour training weeks. Some people don’t do any hard efforts in their endurance training, but I love going fast and so intervals and all-out efforts were part of the package to keep me entertained. Overall, I find it amazing that two big months of riding prepped me for such an intense race. That’s enough training. Ride your bike a lot and you can totally ride 100 miles! If you’re a data geek, check out all the stats on Strava. Let’s talk about gear!

Gear for Race Day

Biking, while more complicated than running, is still basic. My gear list for High Cascades was straight-forward:

My noble steed: Santa Cruz Tallboy CC

Full-suspension 29er bike: Santa Cruz Tallboy CC. Set up with 120mm front suspension, 110mm rear, this bike is the perfect fast uphill, fast downhill bike. New to me in May, I love it! My poor Ibis HD3 sits sad and lonely in the garage… Tires – for you bike geeks, I rolled a tubeless setup with a Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.2” in the rear and a WTB Vigilante 2.3″ up front Helmet and shades: Smith Forefront with MIPS and Smith sunglasses with the Pivlock tech.

Did I mention all those riders kicked up some dust? Clear shades with a little UV filter were key!

Shoes – Specialized 2FO Cliplites. I love the boa clasps on these for easily changing tension on the fly (literally while biking), not to mention they’re comfortable and grip rocks like crazy when needed. Warning: they are sized small and I wound up going to an 11.5 from my usual 10.5 Two 10L hydration packs – at aid stations, Chelsea and friends traded me an empty hydration pack for a full one, which made transitions fast and seamless. Repair gear – last-minute, I bought a Salsa top-tube pack that wound up carrying a spare tube, CO2 canister, and all other repair tools for the race. This kept the weight off my back and removed the need to move stuff between packs (with the exception of my bike pump). Clothing: Jersey, spandex shorts, socks, sun sleeves (my fav from bike touring) and gloves. RECOMMENDATION from experienced friends: make sure your gear is comfortable and you’ve used it all for many hours prior to a race. A weird seam in a new chamois or a pair of gloves can wreck a race.

All the gear!

What Did I Eat? Plants!

Most people who toe the line of a 100 can ride the distance. It’s the fueling and hydration that take out competitors. As I caught up to a guy 3 hours into the race who blew by me earlier, I learned he hadn’t eaten or drank anything yet. I’m no seasoned endurance racing expert, but I knew he was in trouble. (He didn’t pass me again.) FUELING IS KEY. If there’s one thing to get right, learn how to eat and drink on the bike while moving. My goal (which I met) was to only stop at mile 40 and mile 75 for my rad wife and friends to help me swap out hydration packs and reload my food supplies. I multi-tasked and snuck in my lone pee break while walking up a steeeeep, sandy fireroad. Otherwise, I was on my bike the entire 9+ hour race.

Food Plan:

During Training: Lots. Of. Food. I follow a vegan diet (#plantpower, woot!) and have for four years now. Probably related to that, a couple people asked me if I changed my diet during training. NOPE. The only thing I did was increase calories, eating huge varied salads, lots of burritos, big rice bowls with vegetables, and the occasional pizza.

Doofy smile time! After one ride, I ate two of those giant burritos…

For long rides, I’d go with a few bars and maybe a sandwich. My favorite, however, was to swing by my favorite food cart in Bend, eat half a giant burrito, and take the remainder with me to be eaten at a viewpoint hours later. Race Day Food: My takeaway from research was that eating 350-450 calories an hour during racing is a good target. (This Training Peaks article has more detail.) I came in somewhere in that range, but my primary goal was consistent fueling during the race. Here’s what I ate: Bars: Picky and Lara bars, ~1 per hour. ~200 calories each. ShotBlocks: 2 blocks/hr, 100 calories/package. Stuck to this schedule entire race. Hammer Endurolyte pillsI popped 1-2 of these per hour and experienced zero cramping. Medjool Dates: 1 date/hr until they turned into a mush paste at an aid station. Whoops! Secret Weapon: this recipe for blueberry and chocolate coconut rice cakes. Clean, easily digestible calories, plus the bars are moist thanks to the blueberries and coconut milk. I STUFFED my face with these at aid stations (always good for a laugh) and mainlined 200-400 calories. Also could be wrapped up and kept in a jersey pocket for snacks on the go as well.

Easy on the stomach, quick to digest, and full of water, these are GREAT!

Hydration Plan:

After kicking around ideas, I decided to a) maximize water access and b) minimize transition times. To accomplish this, I had two hydration packs that Chelsea cycled out and handed to me at the aid stations, refilled and ready to rumble. I also had a water bottle on my bike with water, salt, and some lemon water. I used 70 oz. of water in each pack plus three Nuun electrolyte tablets. The secret weapon: per my buddy Eric’s idea, I made Nuun ice cubes and put those in the water on race day. Cold water was so, so, so good when temps tipped into the 90s in the afternoon. My goal was simply to drink water, and lots of it. For a race with so much singletrack, the hydration packs made it possible for me to drink basically whenever, as opposed to only on smooth trails or fireroad. My approach worked well and I’d recommend it!

Final Thoughts on Racing 100 Miles

The only thing I have left to add is this: you can do it! Put in the time for training, steel your muscles and your mind, get a game plan in order, and get after it. I hope the experience I’ve shared helps you realize it’s doable even if you’re someone like me who has never raced off-road before. Want to race the High Cascades 100? Here’s the link. Ride on!

My first big ride after the race took me here…how can we not love mountain biking?!

Fun at the High Cascades 100 (Video)

The dust has settled and the High Cascades 100 race is fading into the rear view mirror. Don’t worry, 100 miles and 9+ hours of pedaling didn’t beat the love of mountain biking out of me – I’ve already ridden again!

I’ve got a blog post brewing with details of the race (spoiler: it was awesome), which I’ll post soon. For now, here’s a 1-min video cut showcasing pre-race preparation. I hope you dig it.


A 100 Mile Challenge in the High Cascades


At 5:30 tomorrow morning, I’ll pedal off on my mountain bike (along with 350 other lunatics) to race 100 miles. The event, High Cascades 100, traverses some of the best trails around Bend and climbs about 10,000 feet in the process.

It’s the culmination of months of hard training. I’ve put in the time and am confident, but feel excited, a bit nervous, and ready to ride!

I’ve never raced mountain bikes before, so starting small with a mere 10 hours of pedaling is just the ticket. HA. At least I’m consistent, since that’s the same way I jumped into bike touring – “hey, let’s ride across the US!” or started a business – “I’ll leave engineering for finance and fake it ‘til I make it!”

Registering for High Cascades was partially a reaction to landing last fall after three years on the road. Both Chelsea and I were tired of constantly saying goodbye to friends and wanted to park it in a cool outdoorsy town, but that glitzy sparkle of long-term travel was hard to shelve. A goal months down the road was just the ticket, so I woke up Thanksgiving Day and signed up for the race, ran a 10k event, then ate myself silly.

Nearing the end of a long, hard ride with my MTB crusher friend Paul.

If I’m honest with myself, I’ve coasted a bit the last three years. With my business running nearly on auto-pilot and the open road in front of us, it was easy to live in the moment and enjoy myself. Sure, we did some big bike tours, volunteered at Farm Sanctuary, saw stunning places, and I blogged frequently – but that’s for fun. I wasn’t elbow-deep in any projects with a long view.

For five years prior to 2013, I’d focused on chasing greenbacks. I worked like a tornado, spinning in one place until I realized I needed to think about something – anything – other than work/business/making money. Thanks to my supportive and adventurous wife, that led to travel and a focus on creative projects. Blogging, photography, video: all were intentional projects with no revenue model in mind. I’m no expert in any of them, but can now produce work that I’m proud of.

Still, I’m not the type to sit around and relax. After the dust from High Cascades settles (and my legs stop hurting), I’ll need a project to set my sights on. This time around, it won’t be a purely physical one. I’m feeling the desire to make something, be it a business, a creative work, or a service for others. (Don’t get me wrong – my bucket list continues to grow. The 670 mile Oregon Timber Trail, yessss!)

Camped out after a great day in the mountains.

I’m currently intrigued by the intersection of the athletic/plant-based movement, which is gaining more steam every day. The desire to create a documentary still lights up my ambition circuits. All it takes is commitment and daily effort. Waiiiit a second…just like getting up with tired legs and heading out for a training ride when I’d rather sit at home and read a book.

If I can train for a race by riding a bike like it’s a part-time job, why can’t I apply the same long-term, sustained effort to a project? The possibility of failure is no excuse, since racing and creative/business efforts are fraught with peril. Time to buckle down.

These ambitions will swim in my thoughts tonight, though I’ll dream mostly of singletrack and logistics for the race. Speaking of that, where is that spare water bottle? I should probably snap this laptop shut and go tune up my bike. Tomorrow’s 4 a.m. alarm is chiming soon, so au revoir and wish me luck!

A beautiful day in the Ochoco Mountains NE of Bend.