Back on May 7 I rode the Spring ’11 edition of the “SM100.” I suppose I’m now sufficiently recovered to write a report, though my memory of it all is a bit hazy.
The SM100 is a mountain bike route in the Santa Monicas that has been run as an “Old-School Club Race” type event twice a year, for a couple years now. I believe Tony Manzella is the current ringleader, though he was not on the ride this time around. It was my first time. The ride starts in Santa Monica and is called the SM100 because it’s 91 miles round-trip from SV&O and “SM91″ does not sound as epic. It’s not a race as much as a personal war of attrition where you just try to complete the route and stay with the group, which was quite fast.
It was a nice cool May gray morning when about 25 gathered at 7am. A show of hands indicated that fewer than half intended to ride the full out-and-back 90+ miles. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone but LGers included Jake Weinbaum, Jason Dodge, Caspar Casparian, Fritz Lacey and me. We rolled out down into Santa Monica Canyon, up Amalfi, and got to climbing Sullivan Ridge fireroad at a moderate tempo. At the top I stopped for a pee and when I turned around the group was already rolling again west on dirt Mulholland. I was behind some slower riders on the Broken Arrow singletrack and figured it would be a shame to get dropped in the first hour of the ride so when we hit the fireroad again I took off chasing and caught the leaders on the way to the Hub. One match burned.
First rest/water stop was at Trippet Ranch above Topanga then it was pavement up Old Topanga then a left up the Red Rock fireroad climb, down the other side to Stunt rd. and out to paved Mullholland where it was annoyingly fast on the way to Malibu Creek state park. At mile 36 it got hard when we hit Bulldog, an infamous rubble-strewn fireroad that averages over 9% for 3.5 miles, climbing 1700 feet. A key to completing any really long ride is to never blow up and stay out of the red zone as much as possible but that was a challenge here, even with a 22×34. By the rest stop at the top of Bulldog everyone was sitting or lying down and the ride had officially entered “epic” territory.
From the top of Bulldog we dropped down to the top of Corrall Canyon rd. and picked up the Backbone trail heading west toward Latigo and Kanan-Dume roads. This is the best section of trail on the ride and it was a blast even with 4+ hours in the saddle already. We often do just this 16-mile out-and-back section as a full ride but on this day it seemed really short, dwarfed by the whole route.
Near the halfway point at Kanan-Dume Ian Murray from TTS had convinced his wife and a tri buddy to set up a full-on aid station with salty chips, tent, table, salty chips, sandwiches, fruit, various energy foods in foil packages that were just too challenging to deal with, and salty chips. They also had sodas and water which was key since there was no other water available on this part of the ride.
Up to this point, it had felt pretty much like any other long challenging ride. But after the halfway turnaround my body entered a different zone. There was all the pain you associate with a hard ride but on top of that were waves of total body pain and fatigue that would come and go almost randomly. I’d be suffering up a climb thinking, “this is it, I’m going to need to stop here, sleep for a while, and call my wife to come get me,” then ten minutes later dropping everyone on the next climb with spookily good legs.
Back at Malibu Creek at around mile 65, another guy’s wife met us and pulled two huge sacks of McDonald’s cheeseburgers out of her car. This did not seem like a great idea at first but after just a little bit of persuasion we were all snarfing them down. I gotta say, they tasted fantastic, gave everyone a nice boost, and my legs (and stomach) felt about as good as they possibly could after 7+ hours.
By now we were 8 zombies working together smoothly, yet unconsciously, toward our common goal, just like in zombie movies. Everyone seemed to have the same freakish zombie strength but we weren’t attacking each other, just staggering across the landscape in search of food and eternal rest. I probably would have eaten human brains at that point.
I remember the steep climb from Topanga up Entrada to Trippet ranch being hard, the climb from Trippet to the Hub being even harder and, finally, chasing Jake up the final climb on dirt Mullholland to the top of Sullivan Ridge. This was the official finish line and we made it in under 10 hours from the start at SV&O. Two guys (Coley King and Allen Louie) were on singlespeeds. A few others completed the entire route a bit later and a bunch had epic days that ended up being a bit shorter.
All in all, a fun little ride.
Distance 97.9 mi
Elevation Gain 12,787 ft
Elapsed Time 11:42:14
Moving Time 09:17:52
Average Speed 10.5 mph