Woke up that morning to the sounds of roosters in the distance and the sun shining down. There was no rush in the morning because the race start was not until 10:00 a.m.. Something I am not used to but it was nice to sleep in. We lined up at 9:45 a.m. with the male and female podium winners from the Boondoggle 4 hour up front. At 10:00 a.m. the truck and moped took off leading us in a neutral roll out.
2 miles into the race the truck and moped pulled away and left the group with 1 mile until singletrack. I was sitting in the pack thinking, “if the pace doesn’t pick up, it’s going to be a madhouse squeezing into the singletrack.” The leaders (that included my husband), did not pick the pace up. During the race I was a little annoyed they did not work to spread the group out before the singletrack. Looking back on it now, if I was them, I would not have burned a match either. They already knew they would have no problem since they were first. As I encountered the last right-hand turn I gave a hard effort to maintain position into the singletrack. Once in the singletrack I stayed focused and alert.
I had never ridden this trail and needed to be ready so not to slow anyone down. I made a few mistakes with improper shifting. You would take a sharp decent only to come right back up. A quarter of the way through the trail came the infamous “Durkee DOES need a Granny Gear!” Strava segment. 131 feet of gravel climbing at 5% incline. The first male and female to make it to the top got an awesome red mug (see picture below). If you do not know already, I love mugs! Anyway, this climb really helped separate the competition and thin out for the next trail section. As the trail snaked around the lake it changed from flowy dirt to rooty inclines to pea gravel terrain.
I hit the last climb out of the woods and back onto the road. I saw ahead a group of guys and put in a big effort to try and catch them. I hit the bridge that went over the dam and knew then I was not going to catch the group. So I tucked my arms in and powered back towards the start. As I passed the start and headed right, I was able to catch up with Jordan Sands (singlespeed). We worked together on the road heading into Middle Ridge. I pulled down the hills and he worked up the climbs. Our game of leap frog ended when we came into the big gravel climb into Middle Ridge.
As I climbed away, here came Tom Hughes (riding a fixie). I tried to draft but to no evade. The single speeders really can climb. I hit the aid station right before heading into Middle Ridge loop. Tossed one bottle and had one filled with just water. At this point in the race the sun was shining and it had reached 79 degrees F. I had drank 2 bottles and could feel my stomach getting queasy.
I hit the loop with excitement. Here comes the bogs (giant mud holes) I had been hearing about all month. After consuming half my water I was thinking more clearly. I knew to be careful and my main goal was not to crash. Luckily there had been several racers ahead of me to give me a few line choices. I quickly learned that this mud was thick and sticky. Cleaned three mud bogs then slid my back tire into one. It was a close call. Made it past the mud bogs and onto the rocky descent that I was not prepared for. With mud in the my eyes and the sudden change in terrain I came thundering down. ⅔ of the way down I could not choose my line so hopped off the bike. Showing me the right line, John Kindig cleared the rocky decent using the line on the right. From above it looks like a huge drop but he cleared it flawlessly.
I jumped back on the bike and pushed on towards the aid station.
I pulled up to the aid station where volunteers were waiting with my bottles in hand. I chugged half a bottle of water and poured the rest over my head and neck to cool off. Keith Cottongim let me know I was leading the women. With this new found adrenaline, I felt very strong on the next gravel climbs back towards the start.
I passed the start again and knew once I made it into the trail I was home free. As I came across the bridge at the dam I saw my husband, Chris Shannon. He passed me on my left heading to the finish. So awesome to be able to see him while out there suffering.
I dipped into the trail, but this time to do it backwards. I am not going to lie, it was challenging to navigate and glad I had my Garmin to help me. The trail looks different going backwards and being tired. Nothing exciting happened on the trail this time. Less people to push me so it was easy to forget to work.
I popped out of the trail and onto the gravel decent (Durkee’s climb) when it started to downpour. Descending with one eye open was quite scary. I had water pouring over my helmet, gravel flinging up around me, and one turn to make it to the uphill. Once I cornered right the rain dissolved into a fine mist. Just enough water to cool me off. I luckily only had about 1 mile left of singletrack before heading to the finish line on the road. I could feel the trail getting slippery as my back tire was sliding around the leafy turns.
Volunteers ushered me to the road and directed me back towards the bridge. As I learned from the Cape Epic, I slid my hands in and tucked my elbows near my knees to help glide through the wind. Not a super comfortable position but being a little more aero really helps on the road. I could feel that the headwind that was present earlier had dissipated. I hit the last climb and dug in. I saw the 1 mile marker, the half mile marker, and finally the finish line.
Looking back on this race, I learned that it is important to know where the road sections are and to make sure you enter those sections with a group. I really could have benefited working in a group instead of my solo adventure. Lastly, I have realized that I need to find a quick post race/ride meal. So if anyone has any post recovery drinks/food (dairy-free) that works for them comment below!
Thanks for reading and I will see you all at the next BOONDOGGLE!