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!