This was my second year coming to the Butte 100, I do love experiencing a race for the first time, everything is new you have to figure out where the best place to camp, the course is a mystery every turn is a new experience. All of that unknown can bite you in the ass as well, last year I got lost with Tinker for over 30 minutes, I went on to finish and win the race (to my surprise). This year I was bound and determined to have a clean race, no getting lost, no mechanicals, and I wanted to feel strong for the entire time.
I really enjoy coming to Montana, The people are very friendly, it’s wide open country where you can go out and get lost and not see anyone for a long time. You can do that in Colorado too but it’s getting harder and harder and it seems like every cool spot has been discovered. I’m no expert on Montana and I’m barely scratching the surface as far as places to see and ride a bike but Butte has some amazing trail riding. The Continental Divide Trail goes right through there and this section of that trail is a gem! There’s a bit of everything on this part of the CDT, fast up and down roller-coaster through decomposing granite, technical rocky riding that will test the most seasoned trail rider and steep switchback climbs that go on for what seems like forever.
The first 50 miles of the course is all on a motorized area with steep climbing on two track and moto single track, there’s some dirt roads that were very sandy this year that made for some slow going. The second 50 miles of the course is where all the CDT is and other than a double track section and a bit of road is all trail riding.
The 6am start of the race is early, I always wake up 2 hours before races to eat and get everything ready so waking up at 4am is not a good recipe for getting good sleep. I usually sleep pretty well but occasionally I’ll have some insomnia before races. I’ve struggled with this my entire racing career, it has gotten better but it still plagues me from time to time. I didn’t get much sleep for 2 nights leading into the race, it kind of sucks but I have done so many long hard races on zero sleep that once you start you forget about being tired and you just go.
I set the pace at the start and just went with it, I wasn’t sure who was going to be with me but Eric Chizum matched my pace and it didn’t take long before it was just the two of us. On the first downhill I tested him to see how fast he was going to be and put a nice little gap on him pretty quickly. I did this several times in the downhills and he would would work harder than me to catch back up, after you do this for 50 miles, it’s going to take a toll on you.
By the time I came into the start finish area after the first 50 I had put about 3 minutes into Eric and headed out on the second 50, which is the much harder part of the race. I figured if I just stayed consistent once I got to the trail riding there probably was no way he would be able to catch me. I felt good the second half and was able to push the entire time, I didn’t know how far back Eric was so I just had to ride like he was only a couple minutes behind and for all I knew he could have been.
Once I started getting closer to the end I was thinking I could finish under 9 hours so it gave me some added motivation to keep pushing hard when I just wanted to slow down. The end of the course just kept going and going and the under 9 hour mark was slipping away, I went hard for it but it just wasn’t going to happen. I ended up finishing in 9:08 and Eric had slowed on the second half coming in over 9:40, after the race we talked and he had been on a hard tail because someone had told him it was a hard tail course, we both laughed about this because this race is definitely not a hard tail course!
This race is a must do for someone looking for hard 100 mile races, the vibe is great, the people are great, and the riding is great, also word on the street is they are putting in more trail in the first half making for an even better course.