Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stoopid 50 Race Report

One word: Frustrating. Three words: Frustrating as Hell!

This was my second endurance mountain bike race and really only my second stand alone mountain bike race. It was also my first time racing on trails that I was unfamiliar with, as well as more technical than anything I'd ever seen.

To say it was rocky was an understatement. For a trail runner to run these trails, he or she had better be agile as heck. For a mountain biker to ride these trails, he or she better me technicaly savvy. Imagine riding your bike on the moon and you'd get an idea of what this race is about.

The start of the race was a couple miles of road that turned to gravel road. I lined up near the front and was riding with the leaders as we hit the first section of singletrack. Then the fit hit the shan. Immediately, the technical skills I thought I had failed me as guys cruised by me on the rocks. Rock garden after rock garden jammed me up and had me re-thinking my decision to stay with the big guns.

I made it through the first section in one piece (even after a few hike-a-bikes), and didn't loose too much ground on the front group. Back on fire roads I was able to pull back quite a few spots, but soon lost them again as we came to more techy singletrack. This would be the theme of the entire race-loose time on the singletrack, gain time on the doubletrack and roads, repeat.

As the sections became more rocky, I got more frustrated and lost focus. I'm not used to rocks like this and they were tearing me apart. After a couple of crashes and slams, equipment issues, and loosing more time, I just decided to put my head down, pedal, and do the best I could.

About halfway through, there was a nice rain storm that cooled things off, but made my equipment issues a little tougher to deal with. Shifting with a bent derailliur hanger is tough, but when all the rain and mud washes away your chain's lube, it's nearly impossible to get a clean shift.

From about the halfway point to the end of the race, I really started to have fun. I let the realization that I wasn't going to finish where I wanted slip away and just concentrated on enjoying the day, getting better on the rocks, and riding my bike-something that, even on a bad day, is an awesome thing!

In the end, I actually started to get good riding the rocks, and finished in 29th amongst the open men. Crossing the line I still felt amazingly fresh, which in itself was frustrating because it tells me I had the fitness, just not the skill.

I could have easily hated ever second of this race, but that would have been stupid (pardon the pun!). All this tells me is that while I have a solid amount of fitness and can contend with the big boys, I still need to work on being a technically proficient rider. Granted, these were probably some of the most techy trails I'll ever face during a race, it's still important to get to work.

All in all the Stoopid 50 was an awesome experience. I can't say enough about the great organization, the awesome people, and the area. I really can't wait to do this race again, and hopefully get a chance to ride these trails some more. Two thumbs up for sure!

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