Mudslinger Kicks Off XC Race Season

Katie, Melissa, Mielle and Deanna

Katie, Melissa, Mielle and Deanna

  After last year’s cold and tearful ending, I didn’t think I would go back for another helping of Mudslinger but there I was, standing in the mist in Blodgett, waiting to have another sloppy day on the bike.

Mielle is Bootylicious!

Mielle is Bootylicious!

Deanna, Melissa, Alice and Katie came out too. The weather was MUCH warmer, with temps in the 50’s, warming to the low 60’s and just misty rain off and on. Trails were greasy with a smattering of peanut butter but no rivers running through them like last year.100_3672

 

My focus was on having fun so I didn’t feel as “racy”. Deanna and I are in the same Cat 1/Expert group now that we don’t have any age splits. Deanna climbs like a billy goat and off she went. She took 4th and I took 5th.

 

Melissa and Katie at Line-up

Melissa and Katie at Line-up

Katie caught me, making up huge time in the cat 2 group and also took 4th, beating a ton of girls on her flat pedals.

Post Race Smiles from Melissa

Post Race Smiles from Melissa

Melissa enjoyed her very first XC race EVER! After the race she said, “This is something I would like to train for.” (See her race report) And Alice took 2nd place in the pro women.

Lots of cross country racing coming up in Oregon and Washington so we will be a busy bunch. 

Photo credits: Mielle ,Chaz Donaldson

Ladies ONLY Please

Ladies ONLY Please

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Tales From A Newbie- Melissa at Mudslinger 4/6/2014

RACE REPORT FROM OUR NEW TEAM MEMBER MELISSA SHER/MUDSLINGER-BLODGETT, OR:

100_3676

00: Where everyone rolls to the start together: This is nice, wonder if anyone would be up for sticking together the whole time?
Start: Alright, I recognize some of these people from cross. I got this.
:10: Hm, I’m keeping up but I am pretty sure it has been about 50 yards of climbing so far. They seem to be pulling off…
:20 min: Everyone appears to be gone. Would it have been poor form to draft? Could I have done that on a MTN bike? Mental note to look up the rules of MTN bike racing if I get home.
:30 min: Still climbing, I guess. That’s cool, I could climb all day. I feel great, probably should have given more juice at the start…
:40 min: Ok, here we go, downhill. let’s find out why this thing is called the mudslinger. I should have put my seat down a little. Mental note to ask appropriate times to raise and lower a seat in a race situation. First fall. I think I’ll lower it now.
:50 min: Climbing again. I must do hill repeats to train for this shit. As punishment, tomorrow you are doing hill repeats.
:60 min: I have only fallen 4 times. That is not that bad. It is really muddy, they named the race after this mud. I am sure everyone else is falling too.
1:10: But I wonder if everyone is falling this much…Still feeling pretty good. though. Where did everyone go? I could probably go faster if I raised my seat for all this climbing. But how much faster? Wonder if anyone has ever done some sort of equation on that. FOCUS. This is a race, that old guy ahead is not in your category but you need to pass someone…anyone.

1:30: I can’t believe I am on the ground again. I have just slid off my saddle because it was covered in mud from a previous fall. I landed crotch first, after being air born for what felt like a year, on the top tube. This might be bad. No, this is definitely bad.
1:40: Just walk it out a little longer. OK, I didn’t want kids in the first place. I should thank my bicycle for deciding for me that now I will definitely not have them. Perfect, I love easy decision making.
2:00: Worst decision ever made was not turning left back there for the short course. I could be enjoying my post race banana right now.
2:20 Seriously, I have to train for this. This is embarrassing.
2:30: I don’t know where I am, but if I get back there better not be people standing around the finish line “clapping me in.” I would never forgive myself.
2:40: Things I could say happened: flat tire? I got lost? Yeah, maybe I’ll go with that one.
3:00: Ok, so, seriously, I wonder how long everyone else has been back. I wonder if I will ever not have mud on me again?
A short time laterI love you man who just said I have 1 mile left. No really, I love you.

Overall: But seriously, the Mudslinger was awesome, though maybe my brain didn’t relay awesome messages to me during the actual race. The weather was great, nice and warm with just a little mist. It was a perfect first race experience and I learned a ton (especially what I need to work on).

I am really excited to be a part of the the Les Femmes, train for MTN biking, and see what can happen!

Melissa and Katie at Line-up

Melissa and Katie at Line-up

I Can’t Drive 55- Test Of Endurance 7/6/13

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SWEEP – A rider that follows the back of a field of racers on the race course and helps any stranded riders to make sure all riders are accounted for (we also picked up spent gel packets found on the trail).

The Broom Wagon-Mielle & Remy

The Broom Wagon-Mielle & Remy

Sweeping a race sounds easy enough until you realize your slowest day is still faster than the slowest beginner.  But, it’s not all about ME.  I know, what racer ever says that at a race?  Keeping that thought in mind makes the task at hand much more enjoyable, reminding me and my teammate Remy, that we are here so other people can have a fun and safe day on the mountain bike. 

“Keep an eye on that Japanese guy”, says race organizer Mike Ripley. As Remy and I wait for the last straggling racers to start, we only know that ‘the Japanese guy’ rented a bike and rode from Corvallis to Philomath (19 miles) this morning. He doesn’t speak English very well and he was wearing tennis shoes and a fanny pack. Check in asked him which race he wanted to sign up for (25 mi, 50 mi, 62 mi ) and his answer in broken English was “which one is harder?” That answer earned him the 100k (62 mile) race. You never know, he could crush it.

Summertime and the weather is fine

Summertime and the weather is fine

Sun shining and temps in the 70’s, Remy and I chatted, doing our best to ride as slowly as possible on the climbs. Soon enough we found ourselves right behind a woman in pink.  Not wanting to ruin her experience, our pace slowed but short of stopping for 10 minutes at a time, we just kept catching her. So it went. Finally I struck up a conversation and said, “I hope we are not too distracting back here.” Luckily, she found our conversation entertaining.

With 4400 feet of climbing ahead of us, I had to know why our newbie (Jeannie)  decided to race today, posing the question as multiple choice.

“You decided to race today because A. Your husband thought you would enjoy it, B. You wanted a new challenge or C. You thought it would be fun.”  Jeannie answered with , “Or D. I had too much wine 2 months ago when he brought it up and I said yes.”  Her husband was racing the long course so she made the best of her drunken decision, vowing to never again agree to do such things when imbibing.

Jeannie making it happen

Jeannie making it happen

Other than playing tag with Jeannie, our day on the trail was pretty quiet with only a few of the longer route riders coming by after a couple hours.  Trail conditions were the best I’ve seen them in a couple of years so we took advantage of the fun downhill single-track and waited a good long while before descending behind our riders. The leisurely pace allowed for MANY pit stops and time for photos (Bulldog TANK greeted us at Aid Station 1).

TANK keeping watch on the Aid Station

TANK keeping watch on the Aid Station

At 7 miles to go, Remy found Sho (pronounced SHEW) sitting on the side of the trail but he refused any water or food she offered.  She returned to where I was taking a ‘natural break’ around the corner to tell me that he didn’t look too good and he didn’t have a water bottle. When we returned he was gone. My thoughts were, ‘Ripley is going to have to carry this guy out of here at some pointAt 5 miles to go, part way through the beginning of Collar Bone Alley trail, Sho is back on the side of the trail, rear wheel off like he had a flat.

“No pedal. Broke”, he says to me. I asked if he had a flat but handing me his wheel, it is not flat. “Did you crash?” I ask.  “No crash. No pedal, broke.” Hmmm. Looking over the bike, I moved the deraillieur hanger and noticed the chain had fallen to the inside. Yeah, no pedal if you dropped your chain.  We put his wheel back on and handed the bike back. Sho still refused to take food/water from us, but was in good spirits and smiling, even if his shin was bleeding and he looked exhausted. Remounting, he dangled one foot off a pedal and COASTED slowly downhill, too tired to do any pedaling.  I looked at Remy and we both had the same look- ‘This last 5 miles is going to take all day’.

The 50 milers and the 63 milers are coming by us now and we are going as slow as Sho. “GOOD JOB!” they yell as they fly by, not knowing we are sweeping. Eventually, the trail spit us out to the last check point sign, manned by a local firefighter.  “The aid station closed down an hour ago”, she says, ‘but I kept a bottle of water aside for this guy.”  Another rider had come through saying they gave this Japanese guy their water earlier. Glancing at my Cateye computer, it is 4:00 pm. We have been riding since 11 am and still have a couple miles to go.  Our firefighter is gently scolding  Sho, explaining that he needs to research an event like this before signing up. Not sure how much of what she said sunk in, but smiling, he responded with, “Uh, This…not for me”. We all had a chuckle about that.  I asked again if he had eaten. Pointing to his black leather fanny pack, he said, “Yes, chocolate”.  Makes perfect sense now.

½ mile to go and Sho had dismounted, walking his rented bike.  Remy asked if he was tired and he said his legs hurt. Yeah buddy, I bet they do.  I tried to explain that we are helpers. His response was priceless. “ Oh, so I am….last?” Yes. Yes you are. “So sorry, so sorry” he exclaims. We reassured him that LAST was OK but he felt so bad about it that he remounted, laying his arms across the bars as he pedaled and groaned up the last incline to the finish (5 ½ hours to complete 25 miles).

Almost to the Finish

Almost to the Finish

We learned after the race that Sho had only been in the United States for 3 days and was looking for something fun to do on-line. He saw the post for Test of Endurance , rented a bike and found his way out to the race  from Corvallis. Local Team Dirt  racers made sure Sho got a ride home though. In an ironic turn, both Jeannie and Sho WON their Cat 3 races, their first race ever. Promoter Mike Ripley made a big deal about Sho’s podium, telling his story to the trail-worn racers. Standing on the top step, our champion was beaming, bowing to the cheering crowd.  If that isn’t what Test of Endurance is all about, I don’t know what is. 

"VERY TIRED" but very happy says SHO

“VERY TIRED” but very happy says SHO

MUD ANGELS- Les Femmes roll big at MUDSLINGER

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Les Femmes earned a team full of top 5’s at Mudslinger. Outstanding. Big congrats to our Kona pro Alice Pennington who took first place in the EXPERT(PRO) catagory. It was a very cold wet day on the bike but eight of us fought the good fight. 
 Here are some thoughts on the day from the survivors:
Beth F-
I rode almost all the downhill– that was way better than TOE (Test of Endurance) 3 years ago when it felt like I ran the the entire 50 miles! Also, I have never actually been shivering on my bike in a race- what up with the weather- ick!

Beth F is under there somewhere

Beth F is under there somewhere

Remy-

Laughing my ass off. Seriously, out loud, “This is ridiculous! Oh my God! I feel like I have a gigantic poopy diaper!” All the while thinking the dude behind me was laughing too. Turned for a second to see why he didn’t think I was funny.  What I saw on his face was sheer terror. Guess he didn’t find it all as funny as I did. Me and mud are meant to be.
Dirty Diaper Maguire

Dirty Diaper Maguire

Just like childbirth Lisa

Just like childbirth Lisa

Lisa-
I confirmed, as I suspected this to be the case with a couple of truly horrible road rides I did during that cold snap back in January, that there’s such thing as cold stroke. Like heat stroke, it renders you powerless, nearly incapable of thought and athletic pursuits compromised or ended altogether. Soaked to the bone with both rain and sweat, traversing the exposed clearcut in the wind on the second lap was all it took. No sensation in either hand, no sensation in feet up to my lower legs, shivering and unable to regain any body heat, I helplessly bid second place adieu and shook uncontrollably for nearly half an hour post-finish line.

Like childbirth, I’m sure I’ll forget all about it and line up next April with only a hint of dread and apprehension behind my urge to crush.

DIRT NAP

DIRT NAP

Deanna is Poetry in Motion

Deanna is Poetry in Motion

Deanna- A haiku
Muuud everywhere
Up, up, down and all around
Racing glorious
Now for Results:
Singlespeed Lisa – 3rd with a hot time of 2:38! And that was with frozen fingers.
Cat 2 19-34 Deanna 2nd
Cat 2 19-34 Remy  5th
Cat 2 19-34 Beth F 4th
Elite  Beth Ann  4th
Cat 1 Audrey 4th
Cat 1 40+  Jill 4th
Cat 1 40+ Mielle 5th
Photos Credits: Beth Ann, Mielle and special thanks to SHANE YOUNG/OREGON VELO and the  NW EPIC SERIES photographers for the sweet action shots.
NEXT RACE- BEAR SPRINGS XC/SHORT TRACK APRIL 27TH-28TH ON MT HOOD

Something to Prove- Mudslinger 4/7/2013

Mudslinger 2013

Bursting into tears on the verge of hypothermia Sunday, I can understand why my husband would say this to me,”You don’t have to do these wet, cold races just to prove you are a bad ass. People already know you are a bad ass.” I honestly wasn’t looking for someone to punch my BAD ASS card at the door but I guess he has a point.

Why would someone race their bike for 3 hours in the mud and rain when it’s 42 degrees out?  Well the truth is, because it’s a challenge. That’s why. I knew what was waiting for me in the wet forest Sunday. Punishing climbs and super slick, rooty descents. But I did it anyway. I suffered through this race last year yet, there was still something I wanted to over come. Ride the roots better, take the descents faster, something to show that I am improving as a bike handler in the worst possible conditions.

I went into this race trained and well rested. Sadly, the heavy rain was keeping me cold and my expertise on the slick downhills was lacking in, well, expert.  I found the mushy, rain soaked ground quite a few times. Lost time running sections that I couldn’t ride. Thank goodness for moss and soft ferns to land in. Alas, I will have to conquer the Root Down trail another day.

DIRT NAP

DIRT NAP

Two gems for the day- getting a “nice job on that stair step” from a dude I dropped on the super steep climb. He had to get off and walk. And, finishing two minutes faster than last year.

So, the work I put in when the weather is bad will pay off for my true loves, Short Track and Cyclocross, right? That is what I keep telling myself. Because right now it feels like I am truly suffering for my art.

Don't let the smile fool ya, crying happened right after this

Don’t let the smile fool ya, crying happened right after this

Special thanks to Shane Young of OREGONVELO.COM for the great race photos and to race promoter Mike Ripley for giving us something worth fighting for !

For an overview of the MUDSLINGER RACE, check out my write up on BikePortland.org  http://bikeportland.org/2013/04/08/a-report-from-the-mudslinger-mountain-bike-race-85168bikeportland.org