Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mud, Wet, & Beer, the bike pushing contest

It is Tuesday and I'm still feeling the lingering effects of the 12 hour endurance race known otherwise as Dirt, Sweat, and Gears. The week prior to the race the weather reports were not looking good. Still, I have done some races in some pretty horrific conditions but this race was a total slap in the face by mother nature.

Leading up to the event I couldn't get my tubeless set-up to seal. I certainly learned my lesson about trying to run some lightweight (non-tubeless) tires as they started leaking from the sidewalls the night before the race. They eventually sealed up but the rear 1.9 tire got sliced over a rock garden on the pre-ride. I remounted my older, heavier, more durable tires. After getting them all set-up I realized that one of the tires had a knob ready to rip off at any moment. Thankfully, my duo teammate Jacob had a demo/back-up, 29er with us at the race. We swapped the front wheel and I was ready to roll. The next morning I woke up to find the front tire flat again! Grrr! I aired it up and it finally did seal. Phew. Flat tires are the last thing I want to worry about before a race.

I agreed to do the Le Mans style start the next day. My husband was also doing the first lap for his team so we were together in our suffering. Ironically as soon as the gun went off it started to rain pretty hard. As muddy as it was the course was still 97% rideable. I had a pretty good first lap and got us off to a good start. That is kinda the point where the sun came up, the rain went away and the trail became a peanut buttery kind of mud. My teammate Jacob came through about 3+ hours later. He was walking his bike over the line. I thought he had cramped really bad. As he got closer he was like "are you sure you want to go out for another lap? It is completely unrideable out there". I kinda shrugged it off and went out for another. Bad idea. It was the most painful hike-a-bike I have ever done. My bike had fatty 2.2 tires, (not good), my cables are routed under the top tube (not good), I have no upper body muscles = triple not good! I am stubborn as all get out and managed to drag my 80-100 lb. bike 8 miles or so before my upper body could no longer push. At many points I was walking backwards uphill dragging my bike across the hills with my hands on the top tube. I have bruises on my hips where I tried to push the bike by the saddle. I removed pieces of ceramic pipe, rocks, & thorns all embedded behind the front fork and rear wheel. Times that by 2,000. Walking 6 inches and clearing the mud out again sure did get old. Each time I stopped I also got swarmed by mosquitoes. I finally found a good bailout point at about 8 miles because I was completely cooked at that point. My bike had become so heavy I simply lacked the upper body strength to push any further. With the work hike-a-bike sections in the last 4 miles of the race I know I made the right decision.

So, the race was a bit of a bummer with us only getting 2 laps in. 6 hours of driving, $200 in registration fees, one chain, one bottom bracket ruined, one broken ego. Will I be back for more next year? Probably. It was a super sweet event, good trails (when they are dry), great prizes, etc. Will I ever forget this suffer fest? No.

A great race report and photos are up on this super great new website.

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