17 May, 2008
Battle The Bear-aka My First Cross-Country Race for '08!
picture courtesy of kenny the mad singlespeeder
man battle the bear was fast and oh so fun to boot! after days of a malingering rain/snow mix, we finally have one day before the event to dry everything out. i'm thankful that it did. there was maybe one spot of standing water other than that the course was blisteringly fast, dry, and super hardpacked, with some occasional baby heads thrown in. here's an aerial view of the course:
at the beginning they combined three groups for the start. the 35+, the 40-49 (my group), and the clydesdales. there were about 50 people in our staging area! of course it funneled down to just singletrack 30 yards from the start. when he yells go i take off like it's a crit start and i think i was top 15 in the lead pack once it became single track. cool. one part of the course was super serpentine and if i carried too much speed it would just throw me up on a grass-side berm. not good because all that grass zaps my speed. there were two climbs where i had to bail on the small chainring. i couldn't believe the speeds people climbed. the course was super tight singletrack so it was a chore passing people. thank goodness some fred up ahead climbing was gassed. since we couldn't pass on that particularly steep section we all had to slow down. i took a breather there. then came the downhills. it was smoking fast and tight so you really had to center your line or else-once your front tire got caught in the rough-you'd get launched or bogged down or crash. i blasted the downhills in my large chainring and passed some people too. it was amazingly fun the downhills. not like the daydream-and-your-dead-kind-of-stuff like at winterpark or breckenridge but just hardpack singletrack fun.
our course was doing a 10 mile loop twice. so note to self: the start/finish is after a hard right turn and it's a sprint to the finish. the last 3miles i was battling it out with a 26 year-old, 28 year-old and 49 year-old. i know their ages because they write on your calf what age and category you're in.
i made it a point not to get passed by people older than me, but i did pass a bunch of young 'uns too. we were crushing the flats and i was fading a bit on the climbs but i would put in the big ring on the downs and i'd be back on the bus. on the downhill i passed the 28 year-old and the 49 year-old was drafting me. he took the hole shot on a left-hand turn and took the lead. i just sat back and drafted the best i could. the 26 year-old kicked it on the other lane of the fireroad (right hand side) crushing a huuuuge gear and had a one car lead. i jumped across to draft him and the 49 year-old did too. before the last right hand, flat sweeper there is a tiny little, one person, foot bridge. i jumped out in front and blasted it and got the hole shot over the bridge (can't pass there!). in doing so i almost took myself out because i entered the bridge with too much speed and not centered! i dropped it in the big ring and kept a gap. i shut her down for the right hander losing most of my speed and kicked it in the sprint where the 49 year-old almost passed me but the finish line came up too early for him (he was winding it up jack!)and just right for me. it was awesome. you normally don't have sprint finishes in a cross-country race. the promoters said that racers'd probably do 45 minute laps. sho'nuff, that's what i did. i started at 9:40 and finished pretty much at 11:10. what a great day! my bike performed well and was quiet. i drank most of my water from my camelback because it was hot; therefore i didn't cramp (although i came close on the last big climb). it was a beeyatch to try and eat on the course because people were so good and opportunistic that, if you slowed down, there was a high chance your butt would get passed! this was during the entire event. a whole boat load of people showed up for this and brought the goods at the start line and throughout the event. if you slowed, they would show no pity (as it should be, amen). i'll check the results on-line tonight. they were having technical difficulties before i left. kenny started at 11:30 and he's doing three laps (i think) on his singlespeed! that's waaaay out of my league...