I should start by explaining that mountain bike mile is not the same as a road bike mile, so when I tell you the laps were 6.2 miles long please don’t think that is necessarily an easy distance. See, the course where the race was held is famous for it’s gnarly roots. It’s a wooded, rooty single-track course with short steep (rooty) climbs, steep (rooty) ravine drop-ins and a fun (to me) dirt mogul section near the end. It’s technical, is what I’m saying. So, while i could probably do 6 miles on flat pavement pretty quickly, this 6 mile course took me anywhere from 40-45 minutes to complete. (Which is pretty slow, but my main goal was to not crash. And I usually crash on this course.)
So! After a night of not very good sleep my husband and I got up painfully early Saturday, packed up the bikes and gear, and hit the road. The race course is about 30 minutes away and we made good time. We joined our friends under their team tent to set up camp and then we went down to the registration tent and got our team numbers:
That’s us, team Bitey Badger.
The race worked like this: Each team of two rides laps in whatever sequence they like and the team with the most laps completed within the nine-hour time frame wins. We were not in it to win it, I should put that out there right now. We were competing against folks who do nothing but train for endurance races so there was no pressure on us. We were gonna lose! And it was going to be fun.
My husband started first and completed three laps while I sat around all antsy and impatient. Then I went out and did two. My first lap felt slow but it ended up being my fastest. My second lap was clean, but I got a stitch in my side which went from annoying to really painful to annoying again. It slowed me down, but I didn’t stop. I finished the lap and went in to eat while my husband went back out for two more. I looked really pretty:
Pretty gross, I mean.
My third lap was fine, I think. I get the race amnesia where I forget about the pain and suffering immediately afterwards but I do remember being halfway through the lap and realizing I was digging the ride. I wasn’t riding fast but I felt pretty good overall. I was relaxed and enjoying the challenge until about 2/3rds of the way through when I started to feel a little twinge in my right knee. Ugh. My husband did another lap while I rested and then I went out for lap four. My knee started hurting pretty badly and I had to pedal gently to give it a break. Gentle doesn’t really cut it in a race, but I finished the lap in 45 minutes. My husband went back out while I tried to figure out what to do. My knee was not feeling good and even though I otherwise felt capable of riding at least one more, it wasn’t worth making my injury worse. I was disappointed, but we weren’t in contention so there was no point in pushing it.
My husband completed two more laps and had a bad crash on the last one. He’s fine, but it was the race-ender for him. So we finished 11 laps between us and were happy to call it a day and break out the beer. The best part was hanging out under the tent between laps, trading race stories with our friends:
PS. I’ve since self-diagnosed my knee pain as an IT band issue, so at least I know why it hurts and how to fix it. Apparently ramping up your distance all sudden-like is a bad idea. Oops.
PPS. I took Sunday completely off and thought I was recovered enough yesterday to go lift weights and I was SO NOT. Note to self: two days of rest post-race. I mean, really.