2007 Soggy Bottom 100

Looking across the Turnagain Arm from the ski area in Girdwood. Below shows you just where Hope Alaska is and how to get there. Options to get there include but are not limited to: rent a car in Anchorage and drive there, take the train to the turn off for Whittier and then ride there or hope someone comes a long that will drive you there, and you can always ride the whole way to Hope on your bike from the airport.

It's been two days since I returned from the 2007 Soggy Bottom 100. It was awesome! Carlos and the volunteers put on a wonderful race and the views were some of the best I've ever seen.
The race starts in the town of Hope just over an hours drive from Anchorage. In Hope, there are a several houses, several camping areas, and a great bar and cafe, called the The Sea View Bar and Grill. That's where the race starts and ends. There is also camping just across the street from the start.

The Soggy Bottom 100 is actually 108 miles with 8 miles on a dirt road getting to and from the Resurrection Trail. From this trail head, the trail follows Resurrection creek in the Chugach National Forrest to the Sterling highway. Many creeks run through this trail with names like, Wildhorse, Cannonball, Moose, Hungry, and Abernathy creek.

The race starts at a very leisurely time of 9 AM at the Sea View Bar and Grill. Not like the 100 mile races I used to do starting at 6 AM.

From the start we headed up the dirt road towards the bridge that put us onto the trail. Once on the trail, we followed the undulating single and double track along the river, through the woods and thick brush, while making our way up to Resurrection Pass. The trail was a mix of tacky dark dirt, criss-crossing roots, and rocks scattered here and there. Not bad for the beginning of a long day.

After a bit of riding, we leave the low river bed area and start to head for the wide open tundra. Here the trees are not as dense and the brush not as thick. In fact, it looks like Colorado tundra at about 11,000 feet. Here, we're at about 3,000 feet with rich black dirt and jagged rocks and it's a pretty easy trail to ride on. The trail was just technical enough to have to pay attention and I couldn't take my hands off the bars very often so I would stop and take photos along the way. Early on I decided that this would be a reconnaissance race for me and I really wanted to take my time and look at the views and bring back photos to share with Steve and my friends.
In this awesome wide open section of open tundra and small alpine lakes I saw a few FS cabins. Something I'd like to look into for future back-packing trips in the area.
Leaving this area, we start to drop down through this very thick brush and weeds. I think some of the weeds are called Cow Parsley. It looked like the weeds we ride through in Crested Butte, Colorado. Whatever the names of this thick stuff, it was incredible to ride through. The trail was about as wide as the handle bars and you couldn't see anything, except what was right in front of you. Kind of like riding through a corn field. This is where I was wondering if I would see a bear or a moose. Ha! Unlikely, as I was making so much noise with bear bells and grunts, as I made my way over the slippery rocks, roots, and black slick mud. Several times I got up enough speed to actually have a load of fun but I'd always get myself into a bit of trouble. I would almost endo off the edge of the trail or miss a 90 degree turn onto a bridge. It looked like a few other racers may have crashed off into these bushes, so I decided safety was better than not finishing and slowed down. With sections like this, I'm glad we have technical riding on the Colorado mountain trails. I never thought these trails were too technical, but I wouldn't recommend the riding for beginners.
Juneau Lake

After the weedy section, we came to the lower elevations of Juneau and Trout Lakes. Here the trail had a few rooty sections. For the most part, the riding was pretty easy with a lot of gravel surface, most likely to aid people getting to the lakes to fish.

Throughout the whole day there were well built bridges over the creeks of various widths and lengths. The bridge in the photo below crosses Juneau Creek, just before our first aid station into Cooper Creek parking area. I have to thank Curt Harris for this photo, as I have very few of me on my bike.

The volunteers at the aid stations were so wonderful. Carlos asked several of the volunteers to help the out-of -owners or unsupported racers. They did an incredible job. having volunteers at the stations help the racers save time. I hope they didn't mid my procrastination in the pit areas. The volunteers went and got water and Gatorade (provided by Carlos) and even cleaned off my chain several times. I had Accel Gels, Clif Bars, Endurox R4, and Apple pies in my drop bag. Good thing , as I was taking forever to race and found I was eating very little on the trails but a lot at the aid stations.

The race is an out and back on the Resurrection Trail with a 20 mile detour onto and back up the Devils Pass Trail. I found the Devils Pass Trail to be a lot like the mining trails of Colorado. Mostly tight double track, stream crossings, rocky sections, and a moderate descent and climb in and out of the second and last aid station.
Twice, I encountered the same two horses and riders. Twice, one of the horses stood perpendicular to the trail as I was about to walk pass. The owner apologized and seemed a little embarrassed because her horse seemed not to want me to pass. She told me to try passing behind the horse on the outside of the trail. This would require that I step off the trail into the weeds and off the edge of the trail where I couldn't see if the trail dropped into the ravine. Waiting for the horse to allow me to pass seemed like a better option. I wasn't in that much of a hurry. Coming up to the horse the first time took 15 minutes for the horse to move. I just stood and ate a Clif Bar while the rider tried to get her horse to turn parallel to the trail. It actually became amusing because here I was in a race, where I was more likely to encounter a bear or moose and and I couldn't pass a domesticated horse. It was even funnier when I came back up the trail and saw the horse again. Again, the horse seemed to know me and again, stood perpendicular to the trail. This time I could pass on the up hill side and carefully walked my bike around the horse, while talking to the horse, around it's hind end. I was contemplating taking a photo of the horse but it seemed like it may spook the horse.

Back onto the open tundra of the upper sections of Devils Pass Trail, it began to mist and fog rolled in. It was really beautiful. I couldn't see the lakes I'd seen on the way down but it really made for a peaceful ride. Almost like I was out there all alone.

After riding through the fog, the trail continued on ,connecting back to the Resurrection Trail.
I thought that if I would ever see a bear or a moose, it would be here, near the lakes in the fog. Again, my bells more then likely scared off anything, long before I got close. I did, however, see many hikers, their dogs, and a few hunters.

When I reached Resurrection Pass I took a few photos. It's funny to be at a pass at 2600 feet and not the usual of Colorado passes at 11,000 feet and higher.
Once reaching the pass, I knew it was mostly downhill back to the finish. I was only partially correct. I forgot about the constant rolling the trail took, while slowly descending back to the river.

I did make up some time. I had wasted quite a bit of time at the aid stations and along the way taking photos. The goal was to make it to the finish before dark. Something Carlos kept reminding me of at the Devils Pass aid station. He also told me to stop taking so many breaks and get done by dark. I assured him I had my helmet light but in my foggy state of mind didn't think to take the Cateye handle bar lights. Good incentive to end the race before dark.

The last 15-20 miles seemed to go on for ever and ever. My bear bells were constantly ringing in my ears for the last 12 hours, I had that alone feeling when you ride a 100 mile race with only 20 other racers. To top that off, I couldn't exactly remember the trail. The situation could make a good purgatory or a good Stephen King novel. It was actually funny because I was making so much noise that I knew I'd never see any wild life. In fact, I told a few hunters on the way down the trail, that they would most likely never see wild life in the area ever again. I'm sure they muttered something like "darn tourists". Carlos would be really proud. No hikers, equestrians, or politicians would ever be startled by me. Not exactly the "be quiet in the woods so you can see the wild life" saying that our parents used to tell us growing up.

I made my way to the finish line just before dark and finished just around 12 hours. Never had to turn on my lights. I think my finish was 8th place. The two single speeders made it in before me, as did a few others. I was very proud of Dan, my friend, as he did a great time of 11:36.

Here are the results, thanks to Carlos.

Darren Mattingly, 9h 30m
Chuck DiMarzio, 10h 12m
Dale Plant, 10h:18m, Bellingham,Wa. ( Single Speed )
Jason Hill, 10h 37m
Joe " broken toe Joe " Pollock, 11h37m
Paul Cyr, 11h 38m
Michelle Grainger, 12h 5m ( new holder of the female record by 7 mins.) , Boulder, Co.
Tim " grill meister " Kelly , 12h 26m
Mark Davis, 12h 26m
Adam Bartlett, 12h 32m
Dave Hart, 12 37
Greg McDuffie, 12h 43m
Brian Garcia, 13h 16m
Ted Cahalane, 13h 30m
Jeff "swami " Swanstrum 14h 4m
Bill Rice, 14h 25m
The Sog Bot Leonardo ( aka, akdeluxe ) Award is about the rider who displays the heart, the grit and the will to finish what you started spirit, the will to succeed despite the exhaustion and pain, the 2007 Leonardo Award goes to Mr. Bill Rice !

I loved this race and really wanted to ejoy the whole event from start to finish. That I did!

I will come back and race it again. I want Steve to come back with me and maybe even talk some of my friends into coming up.

Now it's back into racing retirement. At least until the next adventure presents itself.