Sunday, September 7, 2008

12 Hours of Pure Joy!

Kristin Reese and I (Kim Hopkins) had a blast at our first 12-hour Mountain Bike
Race Labor Day weekend in Boone!

After several weeks of indecision and discussion and 2 failed
attempts to pre-ride the course, we finally decided to just go for it
and signed up as a 2-person team. We figured the worst that could
happen is we'd have to get off and walk a lot... actually the WORST
that could happen is that we'd break our necks but we tried not to go
there! The object of this race is to complete the most loops of the 8-
mile course as a team in the noon to midnight time period. Having not
seen the course, I tried to set a few loose goals for myself... 1) To
ride 90% of the course, 2) to complete 4 loops and 3) to try a night
loop since I had heard it was so much fun. Here's a little recap of
how the day played out for us:

The race began Saturday at noon with Kristin bravely taking the first
leg which involved a running start to her bike followed by a climb up
a gravel road to the single track course where she disappeared into
the woods for her first loop. One nice feature of this course was a
long series of switch backs in the open field at the end of each
loop. This gave your teammate the chance to spot you as you exited
the woods and then have a few minutes to fill water bottles, grab
some GU, put on helmet/gloves and a pee before meeting in the
transition area.

At approx. 1:45, Kristin and I high-fived in the transition area and
I was off on my first loop which I would have to describe as shaky at
best. The course, which featured some steep climbs & descents, tight
switchbacks and some scary bridges, was definitely a test of my still-
evolving technical skills. I was jumpy with nerves and caffeine and
was riding with too much air in my tires... all of which made for a
very herky-jerky, jittery ride. Plus, it's unnerving when you don't
know what's around each corner. While I walked a lot of the scary
stuff on this loop, I did manage to stay on the bike for most of it
and it may have been my fastest loop of the race due to fresh legs
and an over-abundance of caffeine in the system.

Kristin was ready and waiting in the transition area... another high-
five and she was off. I headed to the campsite to rest, eat and hydrate.

Loop #2 might have been the best loop of the day for me. I had let
some air out out of my rear tire (which helped me not spinout so much
on the climbs) and was feeling a little more relaxed and confident.
This time around, I was able to try few more of the scary bridges and
made it around a couple of the switchbacks that had caused me trouble
on the first round. The only near disaster on this loop was when I
discovered at about the 3/4 mark that my quick release had come
undone and my front wheel was just wobbling around loose. I don't
know how long it had been that way and I tried to not think about the
what would have happened if that wheel had come off on one of those
steep descents.

Then, it was Kristin's turn again and I was off to rest.

I started my 3rd loop at around 6:40 in the evening. One of the hard
parts about his race is the waiting in between loops. After about an
hour an twenty minutes of resting the body has just relaxed and is
not happy about getting back on the bike again... or at least mine
wasn't! The Night Rider rep was loaning out demo models of their head
lamps so I had taken them up on their offer and had one strapped to
my helmet just in case it got dark at the end of my loop. This was a
fun loop because I was becoming more familiar with the course, knew
better what to anticipate and had finally figured out my gearing. The
legs, however, were starting to feel the fatigue this time around. I
came out of the woods at dusk, without having used my light, and was
happy to take a break and eat some dinner.

Kristin had decided to opt out of the night loop so we all just hung
out around the camp fire for a few hours until Dave Mable came in
around 9ish after completing his 7th solo loop. I asked if he'd be
willing to ride a night loop with me and being the all-around nice
guy that he is, he agreed. So we took off at a cautious pace with me
in front and Dave close behind. People had been assuring me all day
that, with a good head lamp, I would be able to see everything and I
have to agree that I could see better than I would have expected. But
the course takes on a different personality at night and what had
started to seem familiar by the end of my 3rd lap looked all new
again at night. I was thankful to have Dave's company on this lap...
partly because I was getting tired of riding alone so it was nice to
have someone to chat with and partly because it was dark and scary
out there (think Blair Witch Project) and somewhere in the middle of
this lap, my helmet light came unhooked from the battery pack in my
jersey and everything went pitch black on the trail in front of me. I
probably would have freaked had Dave not been there! Also, because
Dave was following me so closely trying to give me the benefit of his
light in addition to my own, I caused him a few crashes when I
decided, at the last minute, to stop and not attempt a bridge or
steep switchback... sorry, Dave! Slowly but surely we made our way
through the course and I'm was happy to have given it a try... I'd
like to do it again sometime with fresh legs!

Our race ended at 10:40 p.m. with 7 laps completed! That put us in
2nd place in the 12-hour Team division behind Herb Hollwager and
Bruce Reese who took 1st with 9 laps. Dave Mable completed an
impressive 12 laps in the 24-hour Solo Division and took 5th in that
category. It was a very fun and challenging race and I'm looking
forward to doing it again next year! Thanks to Kristin Reese for
being an AWESOME teammate... I had a blast! Let's start thinking
about a 24-hour 4-Woman Pink Team for next year!


Julie said...

You two did AWESOME! I'm hoping to get out to the Monday night Mt. Bike rides...if they are having them again? Maybe if I can get hillside conquered I'd be willing to try Boone again. A bad fall in '03 or '04 put the scare in me!

Joann said...

Kristin and Kim you continue to impress me with your evolving bike skills. I gotta say the road riding seems much easier to me, so I think I'll stick with that for awhile.