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.

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