Race Report: RME Battle the Bear

Derpppp goes my face during Battle the Bear (Photo: Mountain Moon Photography)
Derpppp goes my face during Battle the Bear (Photo: Mountain Moon Photography)

OK, I promise this is the last race report for two weeks, LOL.  So on May 5th I did the Battle the Bear in Lakewood, CO at Bear Creek Lake Regional Park.  I decided to be a big girl and step up to the 20 mile XC race.  Sure, winning is fun, and especially rather easy in the Half XC categories of RME, but it’s that whole mental battle of “do I go for the wins in the categories I know I can win in, or actually challenge myself in the higher category and probably lose badly?”

The thing with RME is that they don’t separate it into categories like beginner, sport, expert.  There’s pro, and then the age groups.  So in a XC race you can have Cat3, 2, 1, and pros all riding together.  That’s the big challenge I think.  Then again, I’ve never really run into a “fair” system of categorizing a racer at a bike race (especially USAC ones), so maybe RME is doing things right by just age grouping it.  Heck, I’ll take that!

The drive down proved amusing.  I super hydrated before leaving the house, so about Fort Collins my bladder was about to burst.  I decided to pull off to the rest area off of Prospect.  Well, as I went to turn on the road there were two sheriff’s deputies with guns drawn in the middle of the road, and another one tackling a guy as he got out of a stopped car.  Needless to say, my pee plans were definitely halted as I couldn’t get to the rest stop and wasn’t about to stick around that situation, however curious it might have been.  So got back on I-25, exited Harmony thinking the gas station was an easy pull in.  Nope, and I found myself on the wrong side of a concrete barrier.  Got onto I-25 AGAIN, and went to Johnstown since I knew there was a Loaf N Jug that was easy to get to.  Figured I was reaching the toileting finishing line when I opened the restroom door to find a line 3 deep.  WHAT THE HECK.  I nervously waited in line, hoping I could hold the 4 liters of water and glass of grapefruit juice in.  Finally I got to a toilet.  Ugh.

I got to the park about an hour or so before race time.  It was cloudy and overcast, with temperatures hovering in the 50s.  Definitely a base layer type of day, as I hate a cold upper body.  I ran into my friend I befriended at Ridgeline Rampage, which was quite nice as I had someone to talk to.  Got my number plate, ate my PB&J and half-ripened pear, and peed a few times.  I’ve come to realize that the past 4 weekends have involved Port-a-Potties.  Not sure that is something to write home about…

So I was lining up and on my way.  The loop started with a dirt road climb to spread everyone out.  I was pleased with how I started.  The course was some very speedy double and singletrack, with 3 or 4 climbs to kill all speed.  All the climbs were followed by fast descents, however.  Which I suck at.  I’m sure I’m a joy to be behind in a race on a descent, LOL!  Mt. Carbon is the longest of the climbs, but I found it to be not that bad since it sort of undulates as it climbs, so you can shift out of granny gear every once in awhile.  I was stuck to the rear wheel of another gal in my age group (and who was wearing a purple jersey… purple jerseys are out to get me this year!) for the entire first lap.  I didn’t really know where I was in my field, except I knew I wasn’t in the lead pack.  Either way, I was happy to be stuck to this girl, as she broke the wind for me and gave me motivation.

The first 10 mile lap flew by, literally.  I think it took me all of 50 minutes to complete!  The second lap started, and I passed Purple Jersey Gal and led her for a few miles before she caught me on another climb.  On the descent she flew away from me, and I found myself alone, nearly getting run over by the Half-Marathon men (some of which need to learn some courtesy skills when it comes to passing…).  My legs were protesting a bit more, but I found myself feeling surprisingly good considering the effort I was pushing and the miles.  On the Mt. Carbon descent I saw Yann finally, so I could yell out “Creeper in the trees!” even though this time he was in a bunch of yucca.  I finally let off the brakes and let ‘er rip, hitting 27mph.

Pro MTBer Rebecca Gross passed me, and told me good work on the strong effort.  Kinda nice to hear 🙂  I like the friendly pros, though I’m always way too nervous to talk to them because I’m still kind of awestruck by them all.  Just nice she took the time to give me some words of encouragement!

Soon the miles clicked down and I was in the last mile or two of the race.  One more muddy splash down through the creek crossing (gotta remember to close my mouth for things like that…) and I forced my legs to put down the power to get to the finish.  Came through the pits and under the big RME finish line sign and I was done.

1 hour 43 minutes.  20.3 miles.

Woohoo!  I did it, I finished my first race over 11 miles!  I ended up placing 6th in my age category, and was indeed NOT last place.  So that’s always a plus!  Sure, I felt a twinge of disappointed that I wasn’t getting some shiny cardboard plaque award this week, but I think I’ll come to realize I won a lot more by pushing myself to do something bigger than just staying where I’m comfortable.  (Funny thing is if I had done the 10 mile race I would’ve won it overall, and beat the girl in my age group based on my first lap’s time.  Oh wellllll…)

Most demonic smile ever... ugh! (Photo: Yann Ropars)
Most demonic smile ever… ugh! (Photo: Yann Ropars)

So now that I’ve raced 1/3 of a Laramie Enduro, I think I’m going to try to do longer races the rest of the summer.  One of the first things I did was get home and emailed and asked to be bumped up to Intermediate for the Gowdy Grinder.  I was going to do beginner, which is a single lap of Stone Temple Circuit for 3.5 miles.  Racing that little is really of no use to me I realized, so I’m going to do the 8 mile intermediate, which is a STC loop, then STC to Ignoramus (ugh hate that trail…) to Rock N Roller.  Probably won’t come near to winning, but at least it’s a bit longer!  And now that Beti Bike Bash went unsanctioned, I might enter the Sport category and race a bit longer than my Cat 3 license would allow me (yes, I promise I’ll become Cat 2 after Nationals!).  And of course I’m thinking I’ll return for another RME event, the PV Cycle Derby and do the 22 mile XC race.  Oh boy, I’ve become a big girl!

Becoming a big girl also ushered in my very first flat tire.  Driving home I hit Fort Collins and noticed my bike flapping around in the roof rack, and that the front tire was completely flat.  Luckily I had to stop and exchange kits with Amy, so I put my bike in the fork mount rack and found one goathead in my tire.  Found another small thorn at home.  I guess the warnings at Battle the Bear were right, and I was just lucky it didn’t go flat during the race.  Took 4 tire levers and my dad to get the tire off so I could change the tube, so I am VERY lucky I flatted after the race.  But the Epic’s all fixed back up, and enjoying her two week break before the Grinder.  Nearly 1800 miles on a bikes without a flat…

The rest of the weekend I’ve been terribly lazy.  I was going to ride today, but it’s been thundering and raining off and on so I decided the couch is a better place to be.  The weather is suppose to be gorgeous the next 10 days, so the road bike is coming up to work with me, so at least I can get in some short after work rides this week.  I’m hoping Curt Gowdy dries out this week so next week I can practice the Grinder course, especially Ignoramus and Rock N Roller, which I haven’t ridden that much.  And hopefully I’ll have something to post about besides another darn race report in the meantime…

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