Tuesday, July 31, 2007

24 Hours of Good Times

There have been so many times over the last 13 years that I've been extremely proud to be a member of the Mad FORCs and I have to tell you that this last weekend was another such time.

This weekend was the 24 Hours of Nine Mile in Wausau and over the course of 24 hours there are, of course, many tales to tell so it is hard to know where to start. Here's a few things I'd like to mention that made me glad to be sporting the purple!

1. Kerry R. and Emily
They both were doing their first race. Kerry joined the FORCs earlier this summer and did her first rides on her hybrid and didn't even have a mtn bike when she said she'd be on a 12 hour team for 24-9. She bought a mtn bike and did the Dirt Retreat and now she's done her first race. Emily came to the Dirt Retreat and she must have enjoyed it as she joined the FORCs and signed up to also do the 12 hour team at 24-9. I don't think I've ever met two people with better attitudes than these two. It was awesome having them at the event as it reminded me of how great mtn biking is.

2. Our Moms
How cool is it that there have always been FORCs who are Moms that not only keep on mountain biking but also find time to do events like 24-9. This year Shannon was at the event with 6-month old Ryan who was also wearing lavender all weekend. In addition, we had Moms Amy and Melissa doing the duo. I don't have any kids myself but seeing those gals out there living life to the fullest totally inspires me!

3. Our "mature" racers
I've always been impressed by how kick butt our "mature" riders are and how they keep riding strong. While it's true that they always say that endurance increases as you get older I don't think they necessarily meant over 50. However, the FORCs "mature" members have always shown that over 50 is a prescription for keeping on riding and riding. This year it was Deb who made all of us younger gals realize that not only can you keep riding as you get older but you can set hard goals for yourself and make it happen. It always makes me feel good when the older gals kick some bootie as it gives me hope for my future riding.

4. Our "oh so pro" gals
I would be the first to tell you that racing isn't about your results. If it's only about results then you probably won't stick around the sport too long as a long racing career is bound to have ups and downs. However, over the years we've had some seriously fast FORCs. This year a group of fast gals from the Midwest banded together to try and take the 24 Hour Women's Team National title. That team had some real fire power and it included a FORC - Sue Juedes. Sue now has a beautiful stars and stripes jersey! Of course, that team also included Corie Berrigan who not only is a regular Dirt Retreat instructor but also a former FORC. Holly Liske was also on the team and she was a former Dirt Retreat attendee and current instructor. Now we just need to invite Anne Grabowski to the Dirt Retreat so she can get some FORCs mojo too (and so we can get some of her fast girl mojo)! Now I'll never be as fast as those gals so it sure is awesome living vicariously through them and rooting them on to victory. It absolutely could not have happened to a nicer bunch of gals! The guys in the woods during the night must have wondered what that blur of purple was as Sue did two back-to-back high speed laps!

5. FORCs attitude
Everyone has challenges during the course of a race whether that race is 1 hour, 2 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours. I don't know what everyone's challenge were but I bet there were plenty from crashes, to light problems, to tired legs, to light problems, to stomach problems to who knows what. I know I always wish I were more prepared, more driven, more something. Yet everyone kept going and we certainly seemed like a pretty upbeat group of gals. I know Kerry P. hasn't been racing as she is busy preparing for her imminent move to Taiwan. However, could there possibly be a more upbeat, fun gal who still is fast even with all she has going on??? Barb made all of us at the FORCs encampment cool necklaces that look like little chainrings which was such a cool thing to do. I wish I had a story to tell about everyone because everyone made the weekend special!

6. The Mad DORCs
No, that isn't a typo. We had a group of 4 guys with an awesome sense of humor who registered as the Mad DORCs (dirty off road carnage). Hopefully they enjoyed spending time in the encampment of a gaggle of hard racing gals. Dave and Ben are Chainsmokers, Glenn I knoww from cyclocrosser and Woody from nordic skiing. They held up well in the estrogen zone and even pulled out a 3rd in the Older than Dirt category. Dean was along to do baby duty with Shannon and Andy came with Stephanie to support her and all of us. John E showed up off and on to heckle us as well. Personally I think all the other guys at the event wanted to know how those 7 guys got so lucky to be hanging with us.

7. My 24 hour team teammates
It might just have been insane to register for the Women's National Championship category. However, you have to be a little insane to do a 24 hour race at all. Winning was a long shot at best but we made sure that no team could just coast it in without trying. This team was made up of me and 3 new FORCs. Ridge did 24-9 with us last year and then I convinced her to join the FORCs officially. Michele is an adventure racer, cyclocrosser, roadie gal who I recruited to the team this year as well. Carol showed up at the Rock Cut race on a purple bike and it was a sign that she too should be a FORC. None of us are pro racers and we were out gunned by "fast girl" teams. Out gunned maybe but definitely not out classed! I have to say it was pretty awesome racing with those gals and getting to know them better. I think we represented pretty well.

Okay, okay I guess I should stop gushing but it's hard not to go on and on about everyone and how they rocked out at 24-9. Hats off to Deb, Melissa, Amy, Kerry R, Emily, Renee V, Shannon K, Barb, Kathy, Berlie, Stephanie, Ridge, Carol, Michele , Kerry P, and Sue. The time is now to make plans for your own 24-9 adventure. Talk has already started about those who want to do solos, duos and teams of all kinds for next year.

Here some photos of the FORCs and the DORCs and a few other people too . . .

Renee C

Monday, July 9, 2007

12 Hours @ Blue Mounds Race Report

Hello! Sorry to have missed you all at the dirt retreat. Sounds like it went really well!

Here's my race report. I'm sorry. I'm really long-winded :)

First of all, I can't believe I hadn't ridden at Blue Mounds until Saturday's race! You all should have slapped me around and told me about these awesome trails so near to my dear new home.

Ok, I started out a little nervous and almost didn't do the race. Why? Well, I heard there were many roots and rocks. Hmm, I thought, I'm kind of used to rocks, what with the whole Southwestern US riding experience. It probably won't be that bad. Of course, the shoulder I'd dislocated in Utah had other ideas. Rocks? It said. ROCKS? ARE THERE ROCK STAIRCASES? *whimper*

Anyway...so that was one issue. I'd do anything for a couple laps, but could I take a day of tough riding? Would it be tougher than Blufflands?

Then, of course, I checked the weather. Um. 90 degrees, you say?

Then I slapped myself around a bit, whimpered to (and got berated by) my husband, and packed for the race.

I actually made it to Blue Mounds in time for the race start. I was a giant sack of nerves, as I always am the morning of a race. In this case, however, I was a bit worse than usual, on account of the grim tales I'd gleaned from the internet. In the car on the way over to the trails, I couldn't even finish my bagel, which I knew I'd regret. Still, chewing and swallowing was not working so well and I ended up just packing extra goo packs into my camelbak.

The race start seemed casual enough. We ran a silly tiny boomerang lap towards our bikes and took off. I lagged in the back. I hate messing up other people who ride behind me on the trails and I thought it was a possibility, considering the trail stories I'd heard and my not-so-great talent on the bike. I figured I had 12 hours to make up for any slow starts, anyway. (And that, my friends, is why I like the long races!)

On the first downhill, I was astonished to find my knees were actually shaking. Then the girl in front of me had to get off her bike and I suddenly relaxed and flowed down the rest of the downhill. The first downhill was certainly a promise of trails to come, with some nice rocks to go over and around. We coasted out onto a brief section of doubletrack that cut around the swimming pool and a parking lot, then plunged into singletrack.

The first section of singletrack is definitely fast and fun. We started out on the "Gneiss and Smooth" trail, which was, in fact, nice and smooth. Sure, there were scary-looking rock garden-ish type things laid out in low creeky sections of trail, but they were actually super easy and smooth to go over, and made you feel really awesome. A very fast, blessedly flat trail, with lots of fun twists and turns, it was an enjoyable start to each lap. Also making up what, to my mind, was the first half of the lap, were the Chert, Serpentine Climb (which is easier than it sounds), and Basalty Bail trails. There was a super fun downhill section somewhere in the middle of this first half...if you do it fast enough, you just loop and swerve and make wee hops all the way down the trail. The rocks on the course really, REALLY are not that bad. I was pleased to find they provided a lot of traction (at least when dry, which they were) and were usually more reliable than log piles or roots. There was a section I think in that downhill where you went over a rock, then a log/rock combo, then a log again. I cleared all three once smoothly, which makes the next section of wiggling your way down (also not really so bad) rocks really, really fun. The other times, I kept taking the wrong line on the last teeny weeny log, or was going too slow.

About halfway through the lap mileage, we came to another fairly short doubletrack section, where they had a drink stand set up. I took advantage of the Heed. Mmmm...cold Heed.

The second section of singletrack went over Basalt & Pepper and Holy Schist. Basically, the trail went all fun and loopy for a while, then took you up one painful but doable climb, then another steeper and taller walkable climb. None of the climbs were horrendous and certainly didn't take too long to walk. Once past the climbs, the trails were fun, fun, fun again. More fast, mostly level singletrack with some interesting rocks and roots thrown in. Then, the course rolled up a doubletrack hill to the finish/start area. On the subject of the doubletrack hill, on my fifth lap I was eating as I spun oh-so-slowly up that hill. I looked to my right, where a rider had been keeping pace with me, and realized that he was walking up the hill, not riding as I'd thought. Argh!

I can't say enough how fun these trails are. They're great for learning about rocks and how not-so-scary they can be. Oh, yes, they are challenging. Oh, yes, there were sections I walked every single time. But most of the time, I rode and had a blast.

Aside from the trails, this race was an experiment in eating...or rather, what not to eat. I packed a variety of cool, juicy things, like fruit, (in anticipation of the heat) but I think I needed to bring more fat and protein laden food. I also discovered that yogurt + bagel = disaster for nearly an entire lap. And I found that eating less to compensate for eating too much results in finding my personal wall that day. I didn't quite bonk as I didn't feel hungry; I was just overcome by tiredness and soreness and as a result, my last lap was about a half hour longer than my others. I definitely learned I need to eat more consistently - and that I do better on a liquid/gel/oatmeal-cream-pie diet than on "real food".

Of course, in my defense of my last lap, I did get a flat. Oh, sure, it didn't take that long to fix but, you know, excuses, excuses.

Got 3rd out of three again, though I think I'm improving a bit. At least I did the same number of laps as the 2nd place girl...and wasn't horribly far away, time-wise. I did 6 laps in 10 hours and 56 minutes, for a total of 49.2 miles. I gained 5280 ft of elevation. My cycle computer says I actually rode my bike for 9 hours and 19 minutes. I also rode the trails with great abandon, hugging trees and rocks alike, which maybe means I am becoming a little bit less of a chicken. I count around 13 new bruises, 3 scrapes, and two blisters. Not bad for a day's work!

And because I'm obviously a narcissist, in purple bike watch news:

Wow, product placement at Blue Mounds. Luckily, the picture of me is too small to see my red, red face.

Here's me looking like a turtle at Blufflands

Here's me looking kinda like a 12 year old. Hmmm.

Hope to see/meet some of you at the WORS race next weekend!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Dirt Retreat time

This weekend is the annual Women's Dirt Retreat that the Mad FORCs are sponsoring for the 8th year. Check out the coverage at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (scroll down to July 2).