mudslingerevents

Race Report

24 Hours of Awesome


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The Oregon 24 is a very special race for me. In 2012, when it went by the name of High Cascades 24, it was my very first mountain bike race. I hadn’t been mountain biking for long, but my enthusiastic friends and husband had somehow convinced me that a 6-person team would be a lot of fun. I was a ball of nerves leading to the race and I was was convinced that I would be slow and in everyone’s way.  However, my fears did not come true and by the end of the lap I couldn’t stop smiling. My night lap was a little more of a challenge and the only way I got through it was by staring at the glow sticks adorning my bike and repeating “This is fun. I do this for fun” to myself until I almost started to believe it. At the end of the 24 hours, it felt so good to survive it that I actually did believe it was fun. So much fun that I decided that maybe, just maybe, I could be a mountain bike racer.

The race that started it all.
The race that started it all.

This year was my third Oregon 24. I missed 2013 because after a year of training for the CCP I had filled my sufferfest quota for the year. I believe that this was the best year yet. I raced on the best 5-person women’s team in history! No Apologies! represented with myself, Soso, ZimZam, and guest racers Bridget and Clarinda. We started out by setting up our home base in style. We had two onsite bike mechanics/personal cooks, a crazy friend riding a solo 12 hour, three dogs, a homemade banner made from beer boxes, mood lighting, multiple tents, two double eno hammocks, endless amount of food, fresh brewed coffee, adult beverages, lots of spirit and endless excitement. We were living like kings and we were ready to rock. After an obscene amount of pancakes with various fillings and flare, we made our plan of attack while our mechanic (my husband) dutifully tuned our bikes.

Our master-plan for world domination
Our master-plan for world domination

We were sending out Zimzam for the first shift and each of us would (if up for it) complete two lap shifts. Once Zimzam placed her bike at the startline and meandered to the beginning of the Le Mans start, it was on!

Skittles and ZimZam looking pumped for that run
Skittles and ZimZam looking pumped for that run

It took us a few rounds to really fine tune our off time, but eventually we got it together and heckler’s corner was born. Heckler’s corner was close to camp and allowed us a view of the incoming racers as they made their descent into the transition area. We could clock our riders’ times and heckle all those who passed!

Damn it feels good to be a heckler!
Damn it feels good to be a heckler!

Lap times were impressive and were much faster than we had initially thought. It was clear that we were going to do a lot better than we had planned for. Although there were 4 other 5-person women’s teams, we were blind to our competitions’ progress because of a timing booth hiccup. However, it didn’t matter. We were feeding of each other and pushing hard. We were determined to make this our best 24 hour yet!

Night Lap Fun
Night Lap Fun

My reaction to our better than expected lap times was a mix of excitement and fear. Once we got going, it was clear that this would not be a relaxed attack. We were going to give it our all and get as many laps as possible. Excitement was so high that when Soso went to take over she almost started riding through the transition zone (a big no no with a 30 minute time penalty). By the time I went on my first lap, the sun was setting and we were about to enter the hardest part of the race. After ZimZam’s second round of two laps, Bridget was ready to attack with the dreaded late/early shift: that 1:30 am time period when no respectable person should be on their bike. She handled it well and barely lost time even when her lights failed her on her way back in. She had to desperately creep behind racers to use their light. Later, I heard a racer describing a lap at night where she was convinced she was being stalked by an animal. I only smiled and imagined Bridget creeping behind her grasping for any stray light she could get.

The welcoming glow of camp
The welcoming glow of camp

We were barely gaining time on our laps and rocked it out for the rest of the race. We were stoked to finish with 20 laps! That was about 5 more than we expected (we will have to address our sandbagging problems later). Since the results were still a mess, we had to ask our neighboring team, the Dirt Divas, how many laps they had done. We had just gotten in at 24 hours and 15 minutes and they still had a rider out finishing their 21st lap. Damn! So close! We only hope that the Dirt Divas are willing for a rematch in 2016 and that we can have another full field for 5-person lady teams. All of the teams were really close and we all killed it out there! So, if you are reading this, start getting your team together and meet us out there! We might even share our pancakes and heckles.

ZimZam: Always prepared!
ZimZam: Always prepared!
Personal

Failed Goal = Lifestyle change


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Part One: The preparation

Sometimes it isn’t about the end goal. Sometimes it is about the work you put into it during journey. I am usually a fan of making hard but attainable goals, however, in 2013 I set a huge goal for myself that walked the line between attainable and unrealistic. I had been mountain biking for 2 years. I was consistently riding a few times a week during the year and even more during the summer months. I had done one race as part of a 6 person team at a 24 hour race. I was obsessed with mountain biking and I wanted to become better, so my husband (Jim) and I decided to sign up for the Cascade Creampuff (organized by our very own Michelle). For those of you that don’t know, that is 100 miles and almost 20,000 ft of climbing. Seems like a reasonable next step right?

Jim and I both knew that we were taking a big step, but we were fully committed. We signed up for early season races, started putting in mileage on the road bike and spending LONG days on the mountain bike. We became competitive with each other as we sought out longer, crazier routes in our local forest, the McDonald-Dunn. Our routes started to look like a toddler had taken a crayon to the map. It was fun and it was miserable.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 1.16.50 PM
Route or crayon?

The first BIG task was the Test of Endurance 100k. The Test of Endurance had over 10,000 feet of climbing which included a rooty, steep climb up Mary’s peak on the North Ridge trail. This is a trail that any sane person only descends. I managed to survive the race. I didn’t make the best time and I came in last in Open Women, but I finished. I felt like I was limping to the finish line because my muscles were cramping like they had never cramped before, but I accomplished my first long race.

This is actually from last year, but the sentiment is pretty much the same.
This is actually from last year, but the sentiment is pretty much the same.

After that, the base miles continued. Longer rides, better nutrition and more electrolytes. A friend of ours shared her homemade “salty tang” sports drink recipe and it changed our lives. It banished cramping forever! We experimented with more “food water.” Eventually, the race day details started to come out. I knew I could do it with unlimited time, but I wouldn’t have unlimited time. I was worried, but I tried to hold on to the hope of finishing. I would tackle it with all my might.

A few days before the race I went out on a fun ride to relax. It was a beautiful day and I really needed it. After that much training, all I wanted to do was ride for fun. With only a few minutes of descending to the trailhead, I went down hard. I still have no idea what happened. I was “just riding along” and then I hit the trail with a scream. Nothing was broken, only an impressive bruise and some pretty good scrapes. Those scrapes would be my war paint for race day.

Read about race day in part two.

Events

Spring Fling Volunteer Day


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As part as our “will work to race” policy, Soso and I volunteered to help out at the Spring Fling trail run that is put on by our favorite Corvallis area race promoter. We woke up at 5 am, drank a lot of coffee and made our way to Alsea Falls. It was still VERY dark out as we prepared ourselves for the day. We helped with set up and spent the first few hours registering runners for either the half marathon, 10k or 5k distances that were available. I was very impressed with the brave runners who turned out for a very muddy, very wet run! We felt nice and snug hiding under the registration booth while the rain came down. Eventually though, we had to leave the comfort of fresh baked blueberry muffins and ventured out to sweep the half marathon course. We chased after them with the 10k hot on our heels. However, it didn’t take long for us to catch the tail end of our group. We then went into hiding mode. We didn’t want to put pressure on the amazing woman who was rocking out her first ever half marathon. She didn’t pick an easy one!

IMG_1342Our best attempts at hiding

IMG_1339 We did occasionally sneak out of hiding to share some food and encouragement. Nothing like gels, goos and water to keep a person going! We fueled ourselves with some avocado sandwiches and pushed ourselves up the nasty backside Alsea climb. We stopped to break down the top aid station and gave ourselves plenty of space to enjoy a very wet decent down a few of the mountain biker built trails that were on the course. After that we continued pulling down trail markings and practicing our track stands as we made the way back down to the finish. All and all it was a great experience and we were able help a few runners stay on course. We will certainly be back to help again!