Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Woody's Bearscat 50 Recap

Big thanks to Black Bear for putting on an outstanding event!
- Super fun course
- Excellent course marking
- Well-stocked aid station
- Best parking/pit config in the universe
- Awesome support crew all-around!

Congrats to all who finished or blew up trying! Great recaps!

Is it too late for one more recap?...

My ride started in mellow Tour de Fat fashion with the one & only MattyB. We stuck together and chatted it up for the first few congested miles, but his roadie ass was having some trouble in the rocks, so he eventually dropped back in the traffic and I lost track of him.

Soon came upon teammate Ilya at the side of the trail around mile 5 with a bloody face and his bike in pieces, so I stopped to lend a hand. He had gone OTB multiple times already and broke his derailleur hanger on the most recent. Magically, a fellow racer had given him a spare hanger, so Ilya was scrambling to get back in the game.

Matty rolled up while we were wrenching and offered to help, but the job was nearly done so I encouraged him to keep chugging along.

Ilya and I got back on the trail and rolled together for the next mile or so up Rattlesnake (I think). I couldn't resist hitting the optional 3-step-up rock face line - my favorite feature of the whole course. It burns a match, but well worth it for the fun challenge!

We popped out on the fire road and I rejoined Matty while Ilya charged on ahead. Then I realized that we were at the one hour mark, and had only covered 6 miles, so I decided to step it up a notch and wished Matty well. He seemed a bit frustrated and defeated, and I thought for sure he would pull the plug or run out of time.

The next 40 miles I was mostly solo, just bopping along at an all-day pace, enjoying every mile of incredible singletrack and socializing with whoever was willing to gab.
Rolled up behind Craig (Nomad) at some point and enjoyed spinning with him for a while until he insisted that I should be riding faster, so I reluctantly pulled ahead.
Then I caught up to Jorba Norm who was riding as smoothly as humanly possible while I was bumbling in the rock gardens, so I followed his lead and we yakked about trail building.

Eventually made it to the pit area, and was surprised at how many people were hanging around, already out of the race. Including a bunch of my teammates; Iggy, Rob, Dave, Utah, Bill... Bummer! I grabbed fresh bottles, filled my pockets with goodies, and was eager to get out for another lap of kick-ass Waway trails.

2nd lap was relatively lonely, but totally enjoyable. Plenty of gas in the tank after the casual first lap, and there was zero trail traffic, so I twisted the throttle a bit more this time around and pegged the fun-o-meter. I alternated between salty chips and sugary Chomps, so my taste buds were having a great ride too.

Of course, had to hit the 3-step-up line on Rattlesnake again. 

Eventually caught up to Pearl and he was looking strong, but he said his arms were toast.
We rolled together for a short time and then he disappeared.
Ditto with Dustin.

I finished my 2nd bottle just in time to arrive at the aid station and the crew there was amazing! "What do you need, how can we help you?" The snacks were delicious and the gatorade was icy cold. It felt great to charge ahead with 2 full bottles and a belly full of grub, knowing I had plenty to sustain me to the finish.

Around mile 40 my hands were getting pretty raw with painful blisters, and I cussed myself for forgetting to use chamois butter in my gloves, but it was bearable. If that was the worst of my woes, I've had no right to complain.

At some point, I grabbed some chips from my pocket and bit down on something way harder than any potato. Apparently I had tossed Ilya's broken hanger into that pocket a while back.

Towards the end, I 'battled it out' for a few miles with a very strong woman who I think ended up on the podium. She dusted me on the flatter fire roads and some of the descents, and she was a total master of the gnarly stuff, but I was able to get ahead on the steeper climbs. I finished a little ahead of her, but she started 5 minutes after me, so she totally won. Mad props to her.

Yeah, that's right, the only person who I actually 'raced' against was a woman.

Arriving at the finish was a mix of emotions...
- Relieved to be done.
- Proud to have finished and enjoyed the whole ride.
- Cheated that it was only 46ish miles, not 50.
- Excited to smell the food, hear the band playing and see the party getting into full swing.
- Refreshed by the little rain spritz and wind that kicked up for a few minutes just as I pulled across the line.
- Happy to see Liong the Legend, who had also just finished (but I would have pushed a little harder if I knew he was so close ahead )
- Thankful for the cold chocolate milk that Chris Shilling handed me out of nowhere. (Congrats to the Southie for killing it in the northern rocks!)

Rolled back to the pit and started to get the scoop on how the race went for others...
- Impressed that Ilya not only finished, but got 7th place.
- Surprised that Kirt managed to blow himself up and pulled the plug.
- Not remotely surprised that Chris26er had a strong finish.
- Psyched to hear that Matty was still out pedaling on his 2nd lap, and soon he rolled through the finish.

Got cleaned up & joined the party,
Enjoyed hanging out with everyone in the perfect weather,
Applauded the well-earned podiums,
Called it a day.

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