This past weekend was the 29th Chequamegon Fat Tire race, and I was lucky enough to be a part of it all. Truly lucky. I didn’t make the race lottery in March. There are a coveted 2,750 race spots and over 4,000 applicants each year. Lucky for me, you can write an essay, submit it by July 1st and keep your fingers crossed that you will make it into the race with a compelling essay entry. There are a few rules, but it is called 50 ways to ride the Chequamegon. You can see my essay here. BUT you can also see it here—>My essay made the Fat Tracks newsletter 🙂What does that mean? Fame? Possible fortune? Okay, it really means nothing other than I am very cool. Just kidding 😉 It is always good to start out the weekend on a good note. AND this view from our rental cabin helped too—> Every race bag had the newsletter in it- so most people just toss it out- but mine, mine will be saved. Maybe I will send it to my mom and she can keep it in that dusty drawer with all my other fabulous creations (letters to santa, a note in attempt to bribe her with a taped nickel and penny attached to go on a sleepover, artwork, mother’s day cards). I digress…
So this was my first mountain bike race. It was actually only the 9th or 10th time I have ever rode a mountain bike. I am definitely a newbie and really hadn’t convinced myself that I even liked it. Race morning was filled with jitters, upon jitters, upon jitters. I always get race day jitters, but these were the worst ones I ever experienced. The fear of the unknown had a hold on me (the other 2000+ bikes around me didn’t help much either).
This is very overwhelming to a cyclist who has never even been on an organized group ride. I was passed, and passed, and passed some more. I saw the glimpse of Ryan and our friends Aaron and Ridge’s pink Wookie jerseys fade in front of me. AND there I was
alone surrounded by a few 1000 other cyclists for a 40 mile journey into the unknown.
I felt pretty strong throughout the first 30 miles. It was challenging. The hills were relentless. The terrain was very sandy in spots . There is a spot called “the bottle ejector”. Basically at the bottom of a fast downhill is a huge sand pit and people and their bottles get ejected from their bikes. Luckily I did not get ejected- two people in front of me did- I was forced to get off the bike and walk through it. I did, however, fall twice before the 30 mile mark. The first time I was climbing a steep hill and just shifted wrong. I fell off into a sea of bikers, my saddle jabbed me in the low back (I got a pretty bruise to prove it!), I dusted off the dirt and got back on the bike. The second time I fell into a sand pit. (This was much nicer than the previous fall. Sand is soft!)
The last 10 miles were tough, mentally (because I knew Ryan had been done for over an hour and was probably sitting with the rest of our friends who had been done for at least 30-45 minutes and drinking a beer) and physically (the “rolling” *my ass they are rolling*hills). The hills (10 in the last 10 miles) were relentless. I got off my bike more than I thought I would towards the end, but I was spent.
There is no feeling in the world than the one you get when you see the finish line and can smell the brats in the air as you are finishing up the last mile of the race. I did it! My goal was to keep in under 4 hours. I rolled in at 3:53:30! Not to shabby for a newbie.
Things I gained by doing this race~
my essay in the news letter 🙂
a weekend away with my hubby and great friends
a bruised lower back/ butt :O
an abrasion to my elbow
numbness in my left 4th and 5th fingers (not very pleasant)
confidence in my downhills
over-coming the fear of rocky decent and sand
3,848 calories burned
FUN! FUN! FUN!
I now LOVE mountain biking.