July 19, 2011

Broemmelsiek Challenge

This was one hot race weekend, both Saturday and Sunday the temps were in the mid 90’s with the heat index well above 100 degrees. Of course we picked this weekend to do two events. Saturday was the Great Urban Race, that Chuck and I competed in. You will have to see the Great Urban Race post for all the details. In a nutshell, we ran for 3 hours and 24 minutes in the heat, in the city of St Louis, it really wore me out, but was so fun that it was completely worth it. Day two of the weekend was the Broemmelsiek Challenge Mountain Bike race. This race was originally scheduled for a date in June, I had not planned on doing this race because I had another event on the same day, but lucky for me, or maybe not lucky for me, it was rained out and rescheduled for this weekend.

Since both Chuck and I competed in the Broemmelsiek Challange race, but not as a team, we decided to post each of our viewpoints in this race report.

Robin's View of the Race

So I headed out in the morning, picked up Patrick and Kate, and we zipped on over to the park, after a short stop at QT. The three of us can’t go anywhere without stopping at QT, it has everything we need, but I really go there for the fountain soda that I mix myself. As we pulled into the park, Chuck and Lori were already there and had a tent up right next to the bike chute. It was a perfect place because we could stop for water and food if necessary as we completed each lap.

We unloaded our bikes and got our coolers and gear situated for fast transitions. My Superfly was ready to go with my race number attached, I had a great number 444.

Chuck, Patrick and I all planned to ride the Marathon race, while Kate rode CAT 3, this being her first ever mountain bike race. Both races were scheduled to start at 10 am and the temp was about 90 degrees at the start of the race. We pulled up to the starting line and were told that if we were riding marathon and came through the finish line before 3 hours, we had to go back out for another lap, so anyone ending the race before 3 hours would earn a DNF. This was good to know, I might have to slow down if it was getting close to 3 hours and I didn’t want to start another lap, I would want to make sure I didn’t cross the line until after 3 hours if it was close.

The gun went off and we took off, it was really crowded, but we were led through an open field for a while before we hit the single track so there was time for the racers to spread out. Since I had never ridden Broemmelsiek before, my plan was to take it easy and get the lay of the trail on the first lap. As soon as we hit the single track, we turned a corner and went down into a creek bottom with some deep sand and rock. The guy in front of me went down and I had to do a quick turn to get around him, I somehow stayed up and made it through, don’t ask me how, it had to be all dump luck. That was about the only luck I had all day you will see why when you get to the raffle part of this post. Next I came past Patrick on the trail and we rode together for the rest of the lap.

The course was all single track, but part was in the woods while other parts were dirt trails in open fields. It was like riding in an oven when we came out of the woods and hit the open fields. I was drinking constantly and still felt like I needed more. Before I even finished the first lap, my gloves were dripping and my shoes had sweat squishing out of them. I finished lap 1 in 31 minutes, I didn’t stop at the tent, but kept riding. Patrick and I were once again together and as we passed a small pond Patrick said if you wanted to go use that pond, I wouldn’t judge. I think that was his way of saying you look death warmed over and maybe you need to cool off in the pond. Or he was trying to trick me, so he could get in front of me. I’m not sure which it was. My next lap seemed faster, but I had to stop twice when people in front of me crashed or got off their bikes.

I finished lap 2 in 32 minutes. I still didn’t stop for water, I just went on because I thought I had enough water to make another lap. By the time I finished lap 3, I was starting to bonk, so I stopped at the tent. Kate was there after finishing her race and she quickly handed me a Gatorade and then filled my pockets with ice. I ate some sport beans while she worked to get me back on the trail. I checked my watch and pulled off a slow 35 minutes for lap 3. I headed out for lap 4 and I was soaking wet and covered in dirt that had started to turn into mud and the mud was drying, I felt like I was turning to concrete and that was exactly how my body felt. In fact, one creek we rode through had some gray water that looked and felt like quickcrete. I’m almost sure the mud and quickcrete was turning me into an immobile statue.

I was now starting to slow down, but was thinking it was a good thing, because I did not want to do six laps so I didn’t want to go too fast and finish lap 5 before the 3 hour time limit was up. So as I powered through lap 4 I dreamed about how I only had to do one more lap then I could stop and stand under the water hose. Coming through the chute at the finish of the 4th lap I stopped once again for water. This time both Kate and Lori were at the tent and quickly filled my camelbak with water, filled my pockets with ice cubes and gave me an update on the number of girls in front of me. They also told me that after lap 3 Patrick was about 10 minutes behind me. I finished lap 4 in 36 minutes, I was really starting to slow down. I have to hand it to Kate and Lori, they did not once mention that I looked like hell and smelled about the same, they just smiled and did everything a great support team does for their rider. Chuck, Patrick and I were very lucky to have them there working for us. Even though I ate a handful of sport beans during my stop, I was really starting to feel tired, lap 5 was tough and to make it worse the CAT 1/2 race had started and the riders were flying past me, I had to keep riding over to the side of the trail to let them through. I didn’t want to slow them down, so I would just move over to the side of the trail when I heard them coming. They were like a flash of lightening when they rode by. Every single rider said thanks and were very gracious telling me good job and to keep it up. A couple of the riders even told me to make sure and drink, I guess I was looking pretty bad by then.

I came through the chute heading for the finish of lap 5, stopping at the tent. Kate and Lori told me that I was 4th and the third place girl had a pretty good lead on me. The time was 2:51, and I didn’t really have a reason to do a sixth lap since I wouldn’t be able to catch the 3rd place girl, plus I really didn’t want to do another lap so this was the perfect reason not to cross the line before the 3 hour point. I hopped off my Superfly and sat down in a lawn chair in the shade of the tent and watched the time. The one thing I didn’t want to happen was to have Patrick come by and go out again, because if he did, I was going to have to go. At 2:59:30, I got back on my bike just as I saw Patrick coming toward me. I slowly rode to the finish line and crossed it at 3:00:14, Patrick finished a couple seconds behind me. We stood at the finish line and waited for Chuck, he came through about 4 minutes later, but he had completed 6 laps, while we only completed 5. He also almost fell off his bike because as he pulled his leg over the bar, it started cramping up. We were all moving pretty slow at the end of the race, I just hoped I could make the ride of about 200 yards back to the tent.

I was really glad that I had worn the red Trek kit, I would have miserable in the black in the heat.

We went back to the tent and hung out drinking QT sodas and eating Honey Stinger bars.

As I looked down at my legs they were so dirty, I didn’t want to touch them.

I finished in 4th place, and there were these really cool trophies made out of a CO2 cartridge and a piece of a tire. I really wanted one because they were so cool, so I was a little sad about 4th place. Come to find out, the Marathon division didn’t get the trophies they got money, so then I felt better about missing it by one place.

As we hung out at the awards ceremony, they started giving away attendance prizes. I think they chose every single number except mine. Chuck, Patrick and Kate all won something, but I didn’t win anything. The race director started throwing out schawg and Kate caught a shirt and gave it to me. So at least I ended up with a shirt that had a scary clown dripping blood out of his mouth on the front of it. Hey, I’m not complaining, any prize is a good prize.

All it was a good day, even with the heat. Best of all, Kate finished her first mountain bike race. Now we have to talk Lori into trying one.

Chuck's View of the Race

Since the reschedule date was one day after the very hot Great Urban Race, I didn't have any goals for this race, other than have fun, and call it a good long ride training day.   5 laps seemed realistic, 6 laps would be awesome.

The race started at 10, which was later than I would have liked, as it was already getting hot.  I had thrown the shade canopy in the car on the way to the park.  This turned out to be a great decision.  That little bit of shade was awesome. 

We lined up for the race a few mins before 10.  The CAT 3 and Marathon division started together and right on time.  So we were all on the line together, Patrick, Robin, Kate and me.  We had a quick trip around the grass field to spread us out before the narrow sandy creek.

I fumbled with getting my Garmin started for a few seconds but had it up and running before we hit the creek and woods.  The loose sand and creek rock had everyone slow and single file until we hit the beginning of the singletrack.

The Broemmelsiek trails are great, 100% singletrack, lots of woods, but there are several sections of fields to ride through, they are really fast and smooth, but the sun out there could bake you.

The trails through the woods were fast and dry, there weren't even many roots to ride over, and very few rocks.  No extended climbs, and I can only think of one section of switchbacks.

I would check my Garmin at the end of each lap and kept surprising myself by hitting 27 mins, 29 mins, 29 mins.  My legs were still feeling strong and I started to think 7 laps was possible.  The expert class and Sport class was now out on the trails.  They were so fast, it was hard to stay out of their way.  I got off the trail every time I heard them coming up behind me.  Mtn bikers are so cool, everyone that went around thanked me for giving them room to pass.

Lori was all over the trails taking these great pictures of us, she must have walked miles.


I made 2 stops to swap out water bottles at our canopy, one at lap 3, and one at lap 5.  Kate had finished her race already and was a huge help in getting bottles and ice out.  Thanks Kate! 

Starting the 6th lap, the Garmin said I needed a 30 minute lap to be able to go out for the 7th lap. I felt like I had a chance at it, so I rode hard, I was tired and hot and feeling a bonk coming, but I stayed focused on the time, talking to myself the whole last lap.  "I got time, I can do this, don't let up"...Check the garmin, talk some more.  I finally came through the creek at 2:58 and the finish line at 2:59.  Lori, Robin, Patrick, and Kate were all there telling me the race was over, I wanted to argue, but as soon as thought about it, I remembered having trouble getting the timer started at the beginning, and I had auto-pause turned on, so I lost some time there too.

So I ended with six laps.  I stepped off the bike and almost fell over.  My leg locked up in a giant cramp.  Ha!  I'd have never made 7 even if I went back out.  We hung out for a while in the canopy cooling off then went to the awards and all of us left with an attendance prize.  Of course Robin's creepy blood-puking clown shirt made us all jealous.

July 18, 2011

Great Urban Race 2011

They say it's good to come outside your 'comfort zone'.  In this race we were way outside the zone.  We also discovered right off that we were at a huge gear disadvantage.  I gotta get a smart phone.  The answer to so many of the clues could only be found by Google.  We made due with the phone-a-friend method. 

We had a nice lady on the street take a pre-race picture of us.

Which didn't work out so well.  So we found a second nice lady on the street to take a pre-race picture.

Inside at the pre-race meeting we met the SLU rowing team

The clues were passed out to all the teams in envelopes which we tore open at the word Go!

We figured out the first couple of clues on the sheet and then took off running, deciding to think about the rest while on the move.

The first challenge we completed was forming a Conga line with 4 strangers.  I think they had more fun than we did, and even took our pictures for their facebook pages.

We talked to some waiters at an outdoor restaurant about one of the clues and decided we had to go to The Fudgery at Union Station. On the way there we completed the "picture of both teamates on a strangers bike".  Guess the guy figured we couldn't ride off with it, he had my camera for collateral.

We stopped in front of Union Station to figure out some more clues.  Robin did phone a friend and landed us a few answers.  I called Lori and she got the work search answer.  In the couple of minutes this took we got to winess a fight that started in the park and moved into the street stopping traffic, then ended with some dude running away with an armful of clothes.  First time that's ever happened during a race.

So we ran the rest of the way into Union Station, so we could sing to the fudge guys.  Ok this video is so bad, but it cracks me up.  I have to put it in.  The fudge guy had a "WTF?" all over his face.

Teams had to feed each other a sample of fudge after singing.   I can't believe people pay for this mushy nasty stuff.   

I don't know what to say about this one

When one of the clues turned out to be Upper Limits, I thought for sure there would be some cool rock wall climbing, but it turned out to be a riddle with pictures of mountains.

The big mistake of the day was the clue "make a donation to childrens hospital".  We were feeling pretty smart about getting toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap from the Hyatt hotel concierge for the donation.  We got tickets and rode the Metro out to the hospital only to find out that the donation FOR the hospital had to be dropped off at Office Depot, over 2 miles away.  We blew an hour by not carefully reading the clue.  We ran hard to make up the deficit.

After Office Depot another clue led us to the Moolah Theatre where we had to watch a film clip and write down it's name and leading actress.

I talked to some students drinking beers at an outdoor cafe and we got sent straight to another clue on SLU campus, for a picture in front of their airplane display.  It was getting hot and humid, their beers were looking really good, I thought more than once about jumping over the wall and ordering one with them.

Next in line was the Fountain Restaurant.  It had same goofy looking art-deco interior paintings and we had to take a picture of a teamate doing one of the art-deco poses.  Robin got elected.  :)

Our next challege had us meet a famous celebrity at a local hotspot.  Queen Latifah.  Thanks to Patrick or we never would have found the answer to this clue.  We were blocks away at the Fox Theatre.

I wish I would have gotten pictures of the weedeater guy on the way to the last mystery checkpoint.  He was really bizarre, two weedeaters propped on this old bike with milk crates full of crap.  He was riding along yelling "Taxi!  Taxi!  Taxi!"  which turned into whistle blowing shortly after we ran past him.

The last checkpoint was Self Inflicted Tatoos.  Robin got some ink, and I got a picture of her afterward with her artist.  I think she is planning to go back for more.

We ran in to the finish well ahead of the cut-off time so we had to hang out for awhile waiting for awards.  There was a two-person band playing on the patio. 

We got some cool looking medals and found out that we had finished high enough to get qualified for the Great Urban Race national championship race in New Orleans to be held this November.

July 11, 2011

Tour De Donut 2011

This was a Tour like no other, it had everything, fast bikes, fast competitors, a great course, a great race director, a town full of cheering residents, and of course some blood. Like I always say if there was mud and blood we had a good time. We were a little short on mud, but a friend of mine made sure there was plenty of blood left on the pavement.

So me and about 1620 other people rolled into Staunton and jockeyed for a parking spot in the field next to the starting line. I was lucky and got a great spot this year right by the pavilion. I quickly got my bike out and ran it up to the start line, where I laid it down in the road to save a spot at the front of the line.

Next it was over to registration where I grabbed my number and I was so surprised when they didn’t give me # 1.

Next I went over to pick up my shirt, I have always given the shirt to my girls because I hated the design. I have been a very vocal complainer to the Boeing Bike Club about getting a new design. Well guess what, this year there was a new design! The new design is really great, I love it. My girls are not getting it this year. And well, I’m not saying they changed the design because of me, but I’m JUST SAYIN!

I trotted back to my van and kitted up for the race then milled about talking to a couple hundred of my closest friends. I even ran into the illusive Steve Parks, better known as the owner of the Cyclery, only the best bike shop in the country and of course my favorite hang out. I think this was the first time I have ever seen Steve ride the donut. He is super fast though so of course I knew I would only be eating his dust.

I ran into my nemesis Terry Eldridge we have had a little rivalry going for years, but it seems the only time I can beat him is when he is injured. Of course I did some trash talking and told him I was taking him out at all costs and he gave it right back, telling me I would only be seeing his backside as he flew past me. So the battle was on and I told him to bring it.

It was getting close to time for a warm up and Jenny and I were making plans to have our spots on the starting line held while we warmed up. It was a good thing that the entire Rock Racing team was there so that we had people to hold spots.

A friend of mine gave me a heads up that there was a change in the course and that when we hit Main Street this year, we would have to take a detour, so Jenny and I headed out for a warm up and found the course changes. I’m glad we did, because there were some really tight turns and some rough road to watch out for. We also had news that some of the roads had been rocked, which really surprised me because we had rode the course just a few days earlier and none of it had been recently rocked. I was a little worried about this because loose gravel scares me. We took in all the changes and discussed our strategy.

You see, just as in past years, I treat this race with the respect it deserves, it is THE TOUR you know, so months before the race, I started enlisting a number of very fast guys to work as domestiques for both myself and my friend Jenny. On race day this year we had 5 very fast guys lined up to pull us, hopefully to a podium finish. We lined at the start with Mark, Joel, Chuck, Darrell, and Andrew. Now don’t go all girl on me you guys, you are listed in random order, it has nothing to do about who is the fastest. You can all just think you are the fastest.

You see, everyone of these guys are super fast and any one of them, if they wanted to, could ride fast enough to be in contention for a podium finish, but instead they choose to work for me and Jenny and for that I am thankful. We could never do it without them, well maybe Jenny could, because she is tougher than me, but I know I couldn’t.

The Metro Tri Club had an outstanding turnout for the race, so we decided to get a quick picture before the race started.

So the national anthem was played and the gun went off, then me along with about million more people rolled out. The pace was a bit slower on the way out this year due the changes in the course. There were a few tight turns that kept the pace down. I was pretty nervous until we hit Renken road, where there was more open space, because there were so many people and no matter what the race director requests, there are always recreational riders up front who have no business riding in a tight pack at these speeds. I just try to watch everything around me and stay out of trouble.

Our strategy was to send Joel and Andrew out front with the first group, so that they could count the number of girls in front of us, then we would regroup at the 1st donut stop. The rest of us would try to stay together as best as possible coming out of town and then once on Renken road we would regroup and form a pace line with the guys doing all the work. That is exactly what we did, the pace was pretty fast, but it was working for us. As we pulled through the first donut stop Joel and Andrew were waiting for us. Andrew had donut sugar all over his face, I think he had a snack while he waited. Mark waved to Joel to take off and we all fell back into a pace line. We pulled up along side another group pacing a girl, while Joel reported on the status of the girls in the lead pack. We rode side by side with the other pace line for a while then we pulled through and took the lead. We soon dropped that group and were making the turn to climb Possum Hill. As we started up the hill I felt my body starting to say NO. At the top of Possum Hill, I tried to quickly grab some sport beans out of my pocket.

I love sport beans and since they changed the packaging to have a zip top, it is really cool because if you don’t eat all of them, you can seal them back up and not waste them, but…. The problem is, when you are trying to eat them while riding fast, it’s really hard to get them out of the bag and into your mouth, and therefore, you end up slowing down. In the wake of trying to eat something, I fell off the back. Mark rolled back to check on me and I told him to go pull Jenny. I didn’t want to slow her down because I waited too long to fuel up. He said, he and Chuck would stay with me while Joel, Darrell and Andrew would pull Jenny if it came to that, but for now let’s try to get back on. Just before the second donut stop Mark sent the guys and Jenny on, and about 2 minutes after that, I started feeling human again, the sport beans had kicked in. We worked for a while to try and get back on, but were just a little too far back. As we made the turn just past the second donut stop, we hit some deep gravel where the road had been chipped, but lucky for us it only lasted about 25 yards. When we hit the pavement again, we caught a few of the Tri Club guys, so we all started working together for the last leg. Mark did most of the pulling, but Chuck and Pat helped out when they could. We turned onto Renken road again where we would hit a couple more uphills and one really fast downhill. As we crested a hill and rolled into the really long fast downhill, we saw a crash just at the bottom of the hill. I could see that there were some Tri Club guys in the crash and yelled to them, but Jim was standing at the edge of the crash site and waved us on, they had it under control. Plus the police were there and we could hear the ambulance coming up behind us. About 100 yards after the crash there was a second crash with a Metro East rider down, he looked to be in pretty bad shape, but there was no carnage, so we were perplexed as to what happened. There were a couple guys sitting with him, so we rode on past. Finally we were at the top of the hill, so just to be safe I sucked down the last of my sport beans and headed into town, I was starting to feel really good so Mark picked up the pace and we started dropping a few guys that had hooked on to our train. Me, Mark, Chuck, Pat, Mike and another guy I didn’t know did a fast sprint through town to the finish, as we came through the stretch with the BBQ contest booths, we were cheered on by the crowd, some BBQ’ers that I know were standing and waiting to see me and made sure I heard them cheering me on. There is nothing like having tons of people cheering you on at the end of a race, it was like a stage in the Tour de France. We made the last few turns and rolled through the finish to see Joel, Darrell and Jenny, Andrew was no where to be found. Then all of the sudden Andrew appeared. I asked him if he dropped everyone and he said no. He was eating a donut at the second donut stop when we rolled through, he yelled to us, but we didn’t hear him. After he finished his donut he tried to catch us, but couldn’t, so he finished a little behind us.

Being a domestique is a thankless job, but I try to make some type of payment for services. This year it was socks, all the guys got socks, very cool socks too.

Chuck’s wife Lori was riding in the race this year and was still out on the course, so I told Chuck I would ride back out with him to help pull her in. I thanked my guys for their hard work, congratulated Jenny and headed back out on the course with Chuck to find Lori and pull her in. As we were riding out, I was thinking just maybe we would catch her at the second donut stop and I could eat some donuts, but to my dismay, she was burning up the pavement and we met her with only 8 miles to go. I heard her say something as we rode past to turn around, I think she said “eat my dust Chuck”, as she pulled away from him.

I finally caught her and as I passed I heard Chuck gasping for air and knew that Lori had stomped him.

We finally fell into a nice pace and started working for Lori. When we heard a guy pull up behind us and say “Aren’t you Rock Racing? You have a great blog.” We both looked back, it was Luke from Team Virtus. Luke hung with us for a couple miles and we discussed upcoming adventure races, including nationals. He also gave us some pointers on radio orienteering since we are going to have to do it in the upcoming Thunder Rolls 24hr race.

As we made the turn onto Hackman road, Lori flatted, we stopped and Chuck gave her his bike, I pulled for her the rest of the way in and she had a fantastic finish time. Lori said “so this is what it feels like to upgraded” and just like at the Tour de France, the domestique gives up his bike for the leader. As we were riding away, we heard a loud pop, I knew that wasn’t good. We found out later that Chuck’s C02 cartridge blew up in his face, and he ended up riding the bike in on a flat tire.

I rolled up on the sidewalk and saw my nemesis Terry, he was all bandaged up and looked like hell. Sorry Terry, I just had to say that.

He told me the story about the crash, he said a wheel came out of nowhere, and it happened so fast. He hit his head repeatedly on the ground, of course we will never know if it hurt him or not, if you know what I’m talking about. HA HA sorry again Terry, it was just too hard not to say. His helmet was crushed, so he was in the market for a new helmet. I quickly locked my helmet up in the van. I told him I had to run, because I owed a guy some money for taking out my rival and this guy didn’t come cheap. He tried to punch me, but I ran away too quick.

I ran into the Donut Boys, they are the two tandem riders that have tattoos on their calves with the golden donut and it is marked for every year they have won the tandem division. It was a sad day for them though, they got second this year. It’s ok, they plan on training harder for next year’s race.

Oh and we can’t forget about the guy with the donut hair cut, some people will do anything for this race.

I spent some time chatting with people I knew and I came across a couple of the guys I ride with on Wednesday night, they were sitting in the shade taking it easy and waiting for awards.

So I stood around chatting with a few of the women racers and of course I sported my Zillawear for all to see.

The results were posted on the stage, so I went up and took a look. I was 3rd overall women in road time, with a 2nd in the 40-49 age group and Jenny took 2nd overall women with a 1st in the 40-49 age group. Can you believe it, 2 of the top 3 women were in the 40-49 age group, just my luck.

As we waited for results, Christian the race director was giving away attendance prizes. He kept calling names and no one was there so then he said, “if this keeps up, I’m going to start giving stuff to my friends”. Of course I yelled, “I want to be your friend”! So he says come up here, I’m giving you a prize. He starts to hand me a prize and you know me, I can’t just say thank you and go. Instead I say, “Can you give me a helmet, I need one.” So he gave me a helmet, I then walked over to Terry and handed him the helmet and said, “It’s the least I can do after paying the guy to take you out”. Everyone started laughing, it was funny and Terry got the helmet he so desperately needed. Thanks Christian!

So the awards were given out and I had to pick up a couple for friends that had to leave, in the end I was wearing medals, which only one was mine. I sure loved the sound of them clanking together. I also made sure to get a picture with the Queens of Staunton, it wouldn’t be a donut without them.

And of course I couldn’t leave the race without a picture of my favorite donut race director.

All in all, it was a fantastic race, Great course, great friends, the best domestiques anyone could ask for and of course the biggest donuts around. Thanks to all the volunteers and the Boeing Bike Club for putting this race on, it is the highlight of my summer.