Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Rio Stampede 12 Hour Endurance Race

I’m a little late on my race report for this one but I don’t spend a whole lot of time in front of the computer. I suppose that is a good thing and means I’m spending more time outside. The scheduled 12 hour race turned into a 7 hour one. Hail and wind caused the early finish.

Ryan Huth and I travelled together for the short ride from Summit County. Matt decided to do a bike tour and would maybe meet up with us after the race. He (Matt) parked on Rabbit Ear’s Pass and was going to check out the Continental Divide Trail in those parts. He showed up after my fourth loop and before my last one. Just in time to clean up the big mess, the transition area quickly turned into what we all expected it would. When you stage a race at the bottom of a ski mountain under construction with no grass or any other erosion control devices, you are going to have a big old mud mess. I really enjoyed the race directors Katie and Brad so I don’t want this to come out the wrong way. I do have to be honest though even if it is a complaint. I was tired before I started this really arduous course, about 2,000or so feet of climbing per lap. Did I mention I’m not a strong climber? We had to lug all our “stuff” from our car to the staging area which consisted of about 5 trips to and from. My forearms were sore from carrying the heavy cooler. We also had to do the same to and from our hotel room on the third floor. The construction zone at the mountain didn’t allow for cars to pull in so unloading and walking a borderline uncomfortable distance was what our pre-race evening and morning consisted of. Not exactly the resting I was looking for before this effort.
Well now that I’ve vented I can talk about the actual race.

There were 3 solo females including myself competing. Erika Tieszen I knew and Kelly Bonaface I did not. Taking one look at Kelly I knew she would be tough. She’s built like a climber; lean, little and strong. I am built like a rugby player; tall, thick and strong. Erika is a strong rider too with tons of experience under her belt. I knew there was going to be a race this day and as soon as it began I knew I was going to get my butt kicked. I tried my best to hang onto Erika’s wheel but my HR was anaerobic and I knew I couldn’t sustain that without blowing up so I backed off. Then Kelly passed and disappeared just as quickly as she appeared. She was cute saying, “So there are three of us now so we’ll all podium”. I never saw her again. The climb was relentless, steep, slow, hard and back breaking. I had heard about the climb and one reason I did this race was to improve my climbing skills. The first lap was HARD, the second easier and I felt better, the third and fourth terrible and the fifth, ahhh the fifth. I loved the fifth! The dark clouds formed and thunder howled. I tried not to look up at the lightning striking virtually on top of me. The rain came and cooled me down which was nice, then the wind which made for a nice breeze that moved the rain from vertical to horizontal. The best was the hail. With no rain jacket or any warm wear to speak of, what choice did I have but to laugh? I laughed out loud and my terrible back pain went away. I was fixated on the descent, because I knew it would be hypothermic city. I figured they would have some garbage bags at the aid station on top to hand out or I figured they would call the race. I hoped to continue because bad weather is a true test of strength and determination and it can sometimes even out the playing field. I wanted to ride in this weather, finally getting another chance after Moab 2 years ago, they can’t cancel it. I reach the end of the climb and approach the tent with a dozen or so cold wet riders. The aid lady is waving me in saying the race had been called. We all go inside the gondola house to get warm, the race is over we find out a little later. We jump in a vehicle that transports us down the mountain and Matt has already moved all our “stuff” under a roof. There was still no escaping the rain and mud mayhem so we spent the next 3 hours cleaning up and loading up.

I felt bad for Ryan because he broke his chain on the first loop but had caught up by his sixth and was in fourth and riding strong. I think he could have done really well if it had continued. That’s mountain biking though.

Needless to say I came in third out of three and won $100 which more than covered my entry fee! I also got a 6 pack of Dale’s Pale Ale and some Smart Wool socks. These guys know how to have an awards ceremony. The raffle prizes were awesome, including a Yeti frame and some DT Swiss wheels. It sure is nice for us starving racers to have the opportunity to participate in an affordable event that knows how to reward their racers. The male and female payouts were also equal; a big thumbs up to Brad and Katie for that one. All and all a good time was had!

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