Samborski Deals with Ups and Downs of Endurance Mountain Biking
If Jake Samborski invites you on a bike ride some Saturday, don’t expect a leisurely hour of peddling through the park. Jake’s into endurance mountain biking and recently spent close to 11 hours on the saddle in order to complete the tough Lumberjack 100 race in Michigan’s Manistee National Forest.
Jake is a Training Coordinator in Walbridge’s Human Resources department in Detroit. He didn’t set out to compete in 100-mile races along tough dirt and rock-filled trails. “I’ve been doing a handful of regular cross country (10-30 mile) races on mountain bike trails since 2014,” he said. “I’ve been looking for ways to get faster. All the fastest people that I know happen to do endurance racing, too, so I took on the challenge as a way to race myself into shape for shorter races.”
In preparation for the Lumberjack 100, Jake averaged between eight to 10 hours of cycling per week. His big practice weeks saw him ride 120 to 200 miles; on “rest” weeks, he cut back to 50 to 70 miles.
On the day of the race, June 17, the weather was 57 degrees with light rain when the race began. Racers ended the event with high humidity and temperatures in the 70s. Jake began to experience leg cramps on the second of three 33-mile loops.
“The amount of climbing in this course had me cramping earlier than usual,” he said.
At an aid station, someone suggested he ingest pickle juice, which is high in sodium content. Jake chugged down some, “but I eventually found that electrolyte pills did the trick a lot better and went down easier.”
“Staying in the game” was Jake’s biggest challenge during the second loop. Racers had to meet a time requirement in order to advance to the third loop.
“Finding other people to ride with so we could push each other to hold a better pace was the key,” Jake said.
He made the cut and completed the 100-mile race in 10:45:31.
“The trail was awesome and every lap was fun,” he said afterward. “While I was exhausted on laps 2 and 3, there are 3 downhills on each lap where I went over 30 miles an hour. Those were great, regardless of how tired I was at the end.”