Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chemequaeon Race Report -- Brooke

My ride at the Fat Tire Festival -2006.

My significant other wasn't scheduled to work this weekend and decided he'd like to make the trip with me but only if we drove up Saturday a.m. so here I am up at the crack before dawn (4 a.m.) to load up the truck and get on the road by 5:30 a.m. Boy is it dark out then. Needed to arrive in Cable, WI between 8:30 - 9:30 to get my registration packet. That 3 hour + drive was forever.....on to the report.

Arrived Cable at 9:00 so about the start time for your race. My bike is a 1987 vintage Panasonic mountain bike long before any type of suspension came into play. (30 #s, 6 speed, 0 suspension) It was what they sold to kids who wanted to ride but not on skinny tires. I had brought along regular tires but because it was so dry figured I could manage on my commuter slicks. (Which, by the way was not such a bad idea for most of the course.) I had forgotten to remove my back brace so after I changed clothes and numbered myself and bike appropriately rode over to the Trek Tent to bum some tools to remove the extra weight. (Too bad I couldn't do that off myself, Ha!). It was about 9:30 by the time a stretched my legs out a bit from the drive and took my place in line about 1-1/2 blocks back from the start. That didn't really bother me all that much because I figured I could pass any really bad folks and I wouldn't be in the way of the really good ones. I don't think I saw but one or two other bikes without suspension and was thinking what have I got myself into now?

Within the first mile there was a major crash on a downhill on the paved road that took out 3 or 4 people right away. Another reason for me to hang back. That resulted in separating the thick traffic out pretty much and then we hit a very long dirty uphill which warmed everyone up and spread us out even more. I thought my heart was going to burst but got into a rhythm and just kept going. I was very impressed with myself that my mtb skills came back to me and was able to handle the course fairly well. The deep beach sand that occurred in several places caused me to fall right over like a turtle from lack of forward motion but only my pride got injured in the least little bit. I only had to walk to get going again because I couldn't get a purchase to start peddling. Most of the folks around me had to get off and walk as well so I was just part of the parade.

The downhills were a little bumpy without any suspension to help cushion the jolts and I had to keep reminding myself to let the bike choose the line and just float on down. I only hope I was talking to myself in my head and not out loud as I'm sometimes am apt to do when needing total concentration. There usually was no one around me as I reckless tore down the hills so I guess it really didn't matter. I had one other "crash" sort of when I tried to go up a very grassy long incline and flipped the bike over on top of me. Once again, only pride injured and I picked up the "horse" and got back on. I was forced to actually walk really only once on a very long grassy hill they called Big Bertha and even then I made it half-way up.

Coming into the final turns was very sandy and I spun out there but re-mounted and continued on. My finishing time of 1:45 was 15 minutes longer (a blazing 9 mph) than I had hoped but with the lack of preparation I put in I was fairly satisfied. I now know where all the other older women are that aren't out on the road, they're in the hills. There were quite a lot of oldsters on that list. Gladdened my heart to see all the 50+ on the list ahead of me. Next year maybe I'll do some more training and I'll be in the next age group and maybe some of them won't follow. I may also try to do the long course but 3 hours + of that may be more than I can take on the present bike. I'll need to see when March comes around and the Chemaqueon lottery is calling my name. It certainly was a blast and I look forward to doing it again.

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