Posted 8/22/12 (Wed)
By Olivia Sundeen
Farmer Staff Writer
The Maah Daah Hey 100 started out as a dream. Through hard work, encouragement and support, Nick Ybarra’s dream became something more than reality.
This is how he described it - “It is a race. It is an achievement. It is something legendary.”
And legendary it was. On Aug. 18, 2012 at 5 a.m on a chilly, refreshing Saturday morning, 67 total riders set off on the 100-mile trek. Of the 67, 44 were solo riders and the rest made up seven teams. Fifteen solo riders finished the whole race and six of the seven teams crossed the finish line.
As the top three riders rolled into the first aid station, biking the first 25 miles around 2 hours and 18 minutes, one bystander commented, “Wow, these guys look equipped.”
Another commented, “This is amazing. I think I could sit out here all day and just take it in.”
With the sun beginning to peek over the hills of the Badlands and the sight of rider after rider gliding over the grassy terrain, the view was nothing shy of perfection.
“Ever since I rode the Maah Daah Hey Trail in high school, it was always a goal of mine to finish the whole 100 miles in one day,” stated Ybarra. “After successfully riding the whole thing in the summer of 2009, I decided I wanted to make it a race.”
The time and effort put into this race was long, grueling and worth it.
“When planning this race I took into consideration the things that could have helped me bike the trail better, faster and safer,” stated Ybarra. “I tried to implement those things when working on the MDH100. Things like marking the course better, aid stations, driving directions, etc.”
In order to make these things happen, Ybarra went on a search for volunteers. His main support came from his wife, Lindsey Ybarra. The rest of the 24 volunteers consisted of mostly family and friends.
Some of the main pre-race obstacles pertained to the trail itself. Ybarra worked with the Forest Service by riding the trail and scouting the areas that needed work and then reporting the troubled areas.
“It is a very long trail and it takes a lot of work to keep it in good condition,” stated Ybarra. “Due to erosion of the Badlands and the last few years of heavy precipitation, maintenance of the trail was needed before race day.”
Many hours, 300 flags, and over six rolls of survey ribbon later, the trail was marked and ready to go.
Ybarra explained that since the race was held on the Little Missouri National Grasslands, they had to apply for a Conditional Use Permit with the Forest Service. Because of that, there were a lot of requirements involved with acquiring the permit.
“Some of the logistics were a pain. But it was great that the Forest Service helped us out in a lot of ways to make everything work out by race day,” stated Ybarra.
Ybarra’s efforts paid off. Originally 81 bikers signed up for the race.
“Bikers came from all over,” stated Lindsey. “We had people from North Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, and even Canada come down to ride. It is crazy that just from a website, word of mouth and some posters that so many would come to support such a new race.”
Among a face plant and a few bike technicalities, the biggest obstacle of the day happened in the first 25 miles.
“On race day, we had a couple of riders who did not make it to the first aid station by the time it was supposed to close,” stated Ybarra. “We had to send people out on the trail to look for them. We found them quickly, and fortunately that was our biggest obstacle of the day.”
At the end of the long day, Ybarra, along with many others, declared the race a success.
“We had a solo rider set a new course record at 11 hours and one minute, which is an incredible time to mountain bike that kind of distance on this trail,” stated Ybarra. “Everybody really enjoyed themselves and that is what I wanted.”
Lindsey was not only amazed by the talent of the riders, but also by how amazing the volunteers were.
“It outdid all of my expectations,” stated Lindsey. “But none of it could have been possible without the help of our friends and family. Nick and I were blown away by their hard work and support. Most were awake from 3 a.m. to midnight, and for that we couldn’t be more thankful.”
Now that the race has been ridden, so to speak, Ybarra is already thinking ahead.
“Next year we are planning on having more riders,” stated Ybarra. “We want to have more volunteers and offer our riders more aid stations. I hope that we can have the trail in better condition next year.”
The comments hitting the Maah Daah Hey 100 Facebook page are oozing in praise and satisfaction.
One person stated, “I will see you next year. My goal is to complete it all.”
Another person writes, “So happy to have taken part in the inaugural MDH100. It was a superb experience with amazing scenery and awesome, awesome volunteers and organizers. Loved it!”
That is exactly what Ybarra had hoped for.
“I think that every single rider walked away with stories of how this event changed or impacted them,” stated Ybarra. “I really believe that the Maah Daah Hey 100 will become one of the North Dakota Badlands most legendary events in history. I look forward to its future.”