Friday, August 14, 2009

Ore to Shore Trip Report, Race!

Ok, if anyone hasn't nodded off through the other two parts, here's the third part. The actual race!

For those relatives and parents, I'll explain what Ore to Shore is. The 48 mile Ore to Shore in the U.P. is one of the largest mountain bike races in the Midwest, and is part of a 'Triple Crown' of similar mountain bike races. It drew around 5 or 600 people this year. I entered the women's single speed division.

The morning of, I got kinda nervous as I always do. We went to a friends' house for breakfast. He and his wife cooked us up quite a spread! Nervous or no, the food was too good to pass up.

That was one of my goals for the race: eat and drink throughout. During the SS state champs, I drank about 3/4 of a bottle of water/drink mix and one and a half goo packs. That was a 25 mile race that took around 2:40 (I think), and it really wasn't enough. To ruin the big surprise (will you even read the rest of the post now?!) I did pretty well and got enough to eat and drink. There were lots of places where it was smooth rolling and easy to get something out.

Anyway, I didn't really know what to expect, excepting the preride. Of course I wanted to win, but I didn't know who I was up against, either. I was viewing the whole thing as an experiment, and whatever I got, I got. Once I saw the lineup for the mass start, though, I regretted not trying to get a preferred start. Actually, for most of the race I regretted that.

We started, and I was spinning away on the SS. Quite a few people passed me (along with a couple of other friends on SSs) and things only evened out when we got onto the dirt. Next year, I don't know if I'd do the course with gears or not. It wasn't advantageous to ride it on a SS. Well, some might argue it never is, but this really wasn't suited for it. Lots of flats to spin out on, and a thick stream of people inching up the hills in granny gears, blocking your progress. That was really frustrating, and I'm not happy to admit that I let a few swears loose. Not at people, just... at the situation. At least I never pushed anyone over on my way past 'em!

Anyway, there were not nearly enough hills for me (well, in the beginning), and those that were were too congested for my liking. This isn't to say I didn't have a good time, though. Frustrating as the back and forth was, it was fun joking with some of the guys; they'd pass me on the flats and I'd pass them on the hills. "You again!" we'd yell. There was one group of guys that I must have exchanged the lead with five times.

At one low point in the race when I was feeling the miles, the trail was snaking through the woods and out in the middle of nowhere there were a few people hanging out in lawn chairs, drinking some beer and smoking cigarettes. I'm not a smoker, never have been and have never found the smell of cigarettes attractive. But at that moment, when I caught a whiff of smoke, I thought I would like nothing better than to pull over and have a smoke with these folks. I guess part of it is that, like it or no, the smell of smoke reminds one of hanging out at bars or walking by people on a break. Generally chill and sedentary times! So it smelled good to me!

Overall played it conservatively and wound up with extra energy the last ten miles, when I figured I could go a little harder and blow up, and it wouldn't hurt my standing too badly. I passed two or three women with gears in the very last mile or so, and came in fairly happy with how I had done but not knowing where I had placed. I've fallen a little in fitness, I think, as Cale and I have missed a LOT of WEMS races this year.

A while later I went to check the results board and groaned when I saw I was the first but only Women's SS listed. I like a win, but it's nice to actually win, you know, against others? You might as well get a participation ribbon and a pat on the head. Happily, there turned out to be two other women in the category, whose times were posted later. It would have been better to race in a bigger field, but you run into that in women's SS events.

Here's a picture of the misfits we hung out with all weekend, minus Kelly, who was taking the photo.

I got a photo with the Gold Diggers, too! They were there to promote GT's Golden Bike series. It's too bad there weren't scantily clad hunky dudes wandering around. How about next year, race organizers?

I went out in search of the girls for that photo with Kelly in tow to take it. We took the photo and I asked Kelly if she wanted one. She said, "Nnooo, that'd be weird... I didn't even race." to which I replied, "Well, it's already pretty weird, but OK." (Heheh, I like to tell that story. It's kind of amusing and it lets everyone know that hey, I know it was just a 'lil weird.) We got a photo of Kelly in the end, though, with a 2D Gold Digger.

Hours later, we went to the awards ceremony and then to the after party.

A note about the race and how it's organized: WOW. I don't think it could have gone smoother. The aid stations were wonderful as well. Kiwanis and Lions clubs, among others, donate their time and hand out portions of bananas, donut holes and water. I think I almost took an older gentleman's hand off when snatching up some donut holes! It was wonderful to have people out there cheering and supporting.

No comments: