June 25, 2007

Cowbell Challenge

Well, I did it! I managed to 'hang in there' for a pretty amazing and unforgettable mountain bike race. I rode in the Cowbell Challenge. This was a 12 hour mountain bike race on a 10 mile loop. The goal? Complete as many loops as possible in the given time. My goal was 7 loops - I did 6 - I'll explain why later.

I got to the trailhead, along with about 175 other racers, as around 8am. each team set up pit areas, basically tents lined up next to each other in the parking lot. Once everything was set up, we lined up for the 10am start. Then we were off! The first lap was pretty congested. A lot of people were pretty excited, a lot of people took off pretty fast. Most of them would slow down later.
My plan was to stop and refuel (eat, refill water bottles, cool off) after each lap. I spent about 10-15 minutes after the 1st and 2nd laps. After the third lap it was getting pretty hot (about 95?). So I rested for almost 30 minutes - soaking myself with a cold wet rag, drinking water, and eating a delicious can of chicken noodle soup.
My 4th lap I felt horrible. It was hot, I was tired, my stomach was feeling tight - a bit nauseous. The 5th lap was a totally different story. I felt like it was the first time I had gone out all day!
Like I said...my goal for the day was 7 laps (70 miles). I was on schedule to finish as planned. The rule was that you had to be on the course after 9pm in order to get an official finishing time. And no one was allowed to start another lap after 8:59pm. So as long as I timed it right, I would be OK. About 2/3 through the 6th lap, a stick popped up, getting caught between my chain and my rear spokes. This caused the rear derailleur to bend into the spokes as well. I had to stop and assess the damage. I was able to pull the derailleur out of the spokes. None of the spokes were damaged, thankfully. But because of the damage, I could no longer shift into the lower gears - a much needed option considering the hills I had just passed through. I managed to get the bike rideable, and was able to pedal back to the finish line. Unfortunately, there would be no 7th lap for me. The damage had been done.
So I parked my bike just before the finish line, walked around to my pit area and waited until just after 9pm, so that I could cross with an official time.
It was an awesome day! I can't wait to do it again!
I am feeling more confident than ever now as I look forward to my big ride - the Black and Blue Relay, on July 21.

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