Ha, me filing a "race report".
I'm not a racer, really I'm not.
I mean - I like to go fast but I can't see being able or willing to dedicate the time and pain necessary to be truly competitive. The whole sprinting for the start, rubbing wheels thing isn't my style either. Still, I love to ride hard and challenge myself, so endurance style events are more the ticket.
The Bone Bender 3/6 hour enduro race was held this Sunday at Smithville Lake just north of Kansas City. Me, Nick and Courtney loaded up at 5:00 am and headed out of town. The venue, organization, weather, trail were all perfect.
I had a few goals for this race:
1. Finish - my only other 2 races ended in DNF's, so simply making it to the end would improve my finishing rate by 100%
2. No hard crashes - Always a good goal
3. Not dead last - ambitious, I know
4. Get to the 3rd lap - if you couldn't do the first two laps in 3 hours you couldn't go out again.
5. Finish within 20 minutes of Nick
Turn out was great with somewhere between 250-300 racers. The only drawback to such popularity was a heck of a bottleneck at the beginning of the race where slower, technically timid riders that were holding up the line. Bone Bender was billed as beginner friendly, but I don't think that was quite right for the true novice. As it was I rode with Nick, Courtney and Maria as we warmed up and passed who we could on the first lap.
The trail reminded me a little of Sugar Bottom outside of Iowa City. It was twisty HARD packed dirt with roots, rocks, ruts and creek crossings. There were a couple of technical trickies led by a side angled rock drop that might put you in the lake if you messed it up and another stair step where I saw people crash on both laps 1 und 2.
There were no killer steep climbs but it did meander up and down quite a bit more than I expected. It was a really fun course, but 11.5 definitely seemed long for one lap. The mixture of intermittent rough rock sections with baked hard dirt and roots really pummeled me. My hands/wrists, followed closely by back/neck took it the worst. I ran high pressure in my tires because I didn't want to flat, so I guess that's the price you pay. I also ran my rear shock at the firmness pro pedal. It was probably more jackhammering than I needed to take and I should've adjusted the shock and/or let some air out the tires at some point, but things were going well so I didn't mess.
Passing someone on the first lap I sucked a stick into my rear wheel and broke a spoke. Courtney, who was behind me, kept commenting on the wobble of my wheel. They're only 28 spoke rims and I'm a bigger fella (should have at least 32 of those buggers to ride rocky techy stuff). So I was careful and concentrated on picking clean lines and descending out of the saddle from then on. I cut the broken spoke between laps 1-2, asked God to kept my wheel form folding up on me and kept on ridin'; cuz that's what John Wayne woulda done.
The first lap took longer than expected due to traffic jams and my pit stop was longer than I wanted due to wrestling with a broken spoke. Ergo, I needed to do a good second lap in order to get the third. I actually felt pretty good during lap 2. Settling into a good rhythm, I was passing and getting passed but not much and not until late in the lap. Mostly I was riding by myself. I'd spot someone and ride to catch them. Once I reeled someone in I don't think I got repassed, which seems like a sign I was keeping a steady pace. I was confident in being ahead of a slew of people that wouldn't be doing a third lap so my goal of not being last was looking attainable.
Speaking of that - you know, self-doubt is a funny thing. Before the race I was walking around looking at people - fit, serious looking people - and thinking this could be a disaster. I'm probably slower than all these people, I'm going to be in the way and its going to be turrible (which is way worse than terrible).
Well, I was wrong. I'm not fast (because I'm not a racer) but I'm not totally inept either. In fact, I'm a hella lot more 'ept (?) than lots o' those folks. My bike handling is pretty good and I'm unslow on downhills. If'n I weren't so hefty I could be.....I don't know.....something. But it doesn't matter anyway, because I'm not a racer.
When I pulled up to the timing station to end lap 2 the Timer said I was at 2:50 and the "good news is you can do another lap if you want." I said, "I think I'm supposed to be happy about that."
I took a little longer break this time, working on stretching out my lower back which was taking a beatdown. The beginning of the 3rd lap was ok but the gas gauge on the ole' funmobile was running on fumes for the middle 2/3rds of the lap. I was never really miserable but I knew I didn't have a whole lot more to give either. The the short stretches of paved trail toward the end of the loop brought me back to life a little. I was finishing.
Nick and I left together on the last loop but he quickly jumped out in front of me. I thought I might catch up on a downhill or some rough section but I didn't see him again until somewhere around the 8 mile mark where the trail bent back on its self. Then I knew I was only a few minutes behind him. To tell you the truth it never really dawned on me to try catching him (see, not a racer) I guess I was most concerned with self preservation at that point.
I finished at just over 4 hours. I think I was only 3 minutes behind Nick in the end. There were a ton of 6 hour people dropping out with 3-4 laps, so it was pretty brutal for everyone. Even the mighty Blackford looked pretty wiped out after five, but he still had enough in the tank to offer a powerslide slidmark to thrill the crowd.
I had a ton of fun, met all my goals and then-some. Racing can be fun, but I'm still not a racer.