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Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
George S. Patton

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bone Bender Race Report

   
  Planning a race in the spring is always a risky prospect. As today's weather shows (SNOW) you never know what April weather can bring! After much deliberation the decision was made to move the 6th Annual Bone Bender from Sunday April 13th, to Saturday (thunderstorms very likely) to Saturday (sunny and 80 degrees). I'm so glad we did too, because Saturday morning the weather was showing every indication of bring a beautiful spring day. We got to Clinton Lake around 9 am to begin setting up registration and scoring areas, and there were already plenty of people out preparing the course, pre-riding, checking the road crossings and just making sure that race day goes off with out a hitch. Unless you have helped with a race before, you just don't realize how many man-hours (woman-hours?) it takes to get those wheels turning and keep everyone safe. We got the tents up and everything laid out and before too long the racers started to show up. One thing that I've noticed with bike races as opposed to runs is that many cyclists are old school. The last few years has shown in increase in pre-registration versus same day registration, where as many runs don't even allow same day registration. In fact, a lot of bigger runs don't have race-day packet pickup, and I've noticed that among cyclists only a small percentage utilize early packet pickup. It's a shame, because that is one less thing to worry about when you are trying to get ready for your race! With the surprisingly gorgeous weather that Saturday brought we had a lot of riders that I think decided relatively last minute to come out to race, so there were a lot of same-day registrants. I've done registration many times- but we really had a lot on Saturday! We tried to get everyone through the line as quickly as possible, but I think a lot of Cat 2 and 3 racers aren't used to having to purchase a license. If you race several times a year, buy a yearly license! It streamlines your race-day process and means that all of your results will be attached to your license too. It is $70 a year for a license that allows you to race road, mountain, cyclocross, track, downhill--whatever you like. If you just race a couple times a year, make sure you fill out the correct registration form for riders purchasing a one-day license.
My 2014 Giant Lust 1 - Jessica Rabbit
       Once registration was under control, Heather shooed me away to go start getting ready. I saw Tony looking ready to rock going through his final checks on his race steed. Tom had gone through my bike yesterday so I felt really confident about it. It was already riding really well, but I had him soften up the suspension a touch for the rocky Clinton Lake trails. I wasn't worried about the extra cush making the bike inefficient because my Lust 1 has Maestro suspension (very efficient platform) and a lock-out for the fire-road and doubletrack section of the trail. I ran about 30 psi in my tires, which for those Schwalbe's felt really pretty good. I haven't converted this bike to tubeless yet, or I might have ran a little bit lower. I really love the way those Schwalbe's grip the rocks, and the soft sidewalls corner like a dream but you have to have that air pressure dialed or it can twist and roll on you if you are really pushing the bike. Since my bike was rock solid I spent a little time with the kids, and harassed Mike, our Castelli rep who made the drive down from Chicago to race. Mike didn't have the benefit of a Tom to get his bike ready to go for him! I check on Andy, and say hi to Ivy and Renee- our Hellcat ladies who were racing as a duo in the Team event.

       Once it was time to roll out I made my way to the line and set up by Kelly Skinner right behind Karen Brocket. I knew that Karen knew the trails and wouldn't risk getting caught behind someone slow going in to the woods. When the air horn blew we were off! It's a short sprint to the trail entrance where things begin to bottleneck, and a guy squeezed in front of me at the last minute (grrrr) and the second we hit the rocks and roots he was on the ground, and I set a foot down (grrrrr) and next thing you know 15 people are around us. Damn it. I see a small gap and get going again, but now I'm caught behind some riders who were having trouble clearing some of the stuff, so I try to settle in, and squeeze past them one by one. We pop back out of the woods before you know it and head for bunker hill and I decide to snag a drink from my camelbak... and wouldn't you know? It's empty. The kids must have helped themselves to some refreshment while I was getting ready, and I hadn't noticed because I always squeeze the air out so the bladder doesn't slosh. The lead girls are long out of sight, so I accept it and move on- try not to think about it and just keep an eye out for a water stop in case there is one. The doubletrack winds through a field of Western Red Cedars (juniperus virginiana- I'm allergic!) and I try not to think about that either but my lungs are not pleased. I hit the lock-out and keep a steady tempo and aim for the couple of riders that I can see ahead of me. Finally we drop back in to trail and I'm hoping to start picking people off when the trail gets a little rougher. My pace is only mediocre on the smooth part of the trail, but every time we hit one of the MANY rocky climbs that
Popping out at the finish after the final climb-Yayyy!
Clinton is known for I catch another rider, and I try to get around as many as I can. I saw a few riders fixing flats here and there- pinch flats and thorns both- but I'm lucky and don't have any issues. My bike is performing perfectly actually so I try to just do what I can to be as fast and smooth as possible and keep my tempo to a point where I'm not thinking about water too much! I haven't seen too many women since the beginning except Rennae Weaver, who I keep passing back and forth. She's definitely seems more fit and finally comes around me with 3 or so miles to go when the trails smooth out and fitness trumps my willingness to he-man the hills and rocks. I spend the last couple miles focusing on the guys around me, trying to pass them one at a time. No, they aren't in my category so it definitely doesn't matter, but it gives me something to focus on and makes the last couple miles go faster! On a long course like this the race really has more of a mental component, you have to find a way to drive yourself, and that's one thing that works for me. Finally I could hear the finish at the top of the last climb and rolled through at 7th place out of 11 women.
         If you've never done a mountain bike race, the atmosphere after the race is by far my favorite part. The stress and nervousness has dissipated and you are left with a bunch of cool outdoorsy people who are really happy to be outside riding their bikes and enjoying some great trails. Lot's people sharing beer from their coolers, and Carolyn Locke brought in Jimmy Johns for all of the racers. It's great to relax and talk to everyone and see how their race went. Whether you are excited about your finish or wish you had done better, you can't help but be happy to be on great trails with cool people! There was a LOT of cool raffle prizes from Castelli, Hammer, and some great stuff we brought from The Wheel from Sugoi and BePresent and other cool brands. All in all, I saw a lot of smiling faces and happy racers, and I think the day was a great success. Thank you Heather Jordan @ The Wheel Cyclery and Chris Locke.

Results can be found here

Our next off-road adventure will be at God's Country on June 22nd- put it on your calendar now!

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