Maah Daah Hey 100
This will mark the 3rd time that I have tackled this monster of a trail. The first time, was a 'paltry' 28 miles as part of a 3-man team to ride the whole thing. Last year, I completed the 75 mile solo race and was one of only 3 riders that finished that length (albeit, I was the last of those three).
I wrote a blog post about my time on trail which you can see right here
This year, I've up'd the ante: I've decided to try my hand at the full 100 miles.
The Maah Daah Hey trail is not a trail to be taken lightly. It is right through the bad lands of Teddy Rosevelt National Park in North Dakota. It is an A - B race, which means that you never ride the same section of trail twice! Each pedal stroke is a venture into new territory!
Things that make the MDH100 ultra-challenging, apart from the sheer distance of the race, is the climate: 35-40oc with hardly any cover of shade. If you're not hydrating properly, eating enough and packing in the electrolytes, you will cramp easily and "bonk" (hit "the wall").
When looking at the elevation in the above picture, you can see a LOT of ups and downs. The great thing is that none of these climbs or descents are that long or technical, meaning you can pretty 'easily' climb any of the hills if you keep your legs moving... and THAT is the hard part.
Here is a video I recorded at the 75km mark last year (just over 1/2 way into the 75 mile race).
What you can't experience through the ramblings, is the toll that the heat has taken on my body. At this stage, I was beginning to say things like "I guess I'll call it a day at the next water station." The cramps were threatening, the heat hurt so much, simply walking my bike up those "climbable" hills was excruciating. I was simply getting worn down.
So, looking forward, I am reminded of the real hurt of that ride. Hurt, that disappears when you start reminiscing with friends, yet still creeps into your mind as you pack your bag and begin to plan your strategy. I'm keenly aware that I haven't really been training for this as hard as I should have been and to begin hard riding only 8 days out from the beginning of the race will only spell disaster on my body and any chance I have of finishing.
I am excited, oddly, for much of the same reasons. The challenge that lies ahead of me. Knowing that 75 miles was pretty much all I that I had in me last year, the 100 miles taunts me even more and I want to complete it. The scenery, while very much 100% badlands, is truly beautiful. There are vistas along the tops of the buttes that will take your breath away and I am really excited to see them again.
I'm also excited about the stories you get to tell as your body recovers from everything you put it through. Commiserating with the fellow riders builds friendships as you agonize over that one hill or descent, the heat, the cattle and how many near-death experiences you had.
For me, this is part of living. Riding my mountain bike through these crazy conditions is a place where I find refreshment and really feel God's presence. I don't end up praying much through the race, but I don't need to to feel close to God.
I'm finding that my relationship with God is becoming something where peddling in silence and enjoying his presence is a deeper connection. I am able to hear his will better - without having Him have to say anything. I've increasingly found that my prayers are filled less with words and more with silence.
I'm beginning to understand what Mother Teresa meant when she was asked about her prayer life by an interviewer:
“When you pray, what do you say to God?”
Mother Teresa replied, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.”
Believing he understood what she had just said, the interviewer next asked, “Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?”
Mother Teresa replied, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.”
There was a long silence, with the interviewer seeming a bit confused and not knowing what to ask next.
Finally Mother Teresa breaks the silence by saying, “If you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I’m sorry but there’s no way I can explain it any better.”
I am a pastor in rural Manitoba that is passionate about the church, leadership, coffee and bicycles.