This is my second BOONDOGGLE race I have attended and it did not disappoint. The format for this race was inspired by motocross. It was two 30 minute heats on a one mile course. Racers received points each race depending on how they finished. It was really cool that there were payouts for each heat thanks to London and Laurel County Tourism and Keith Cottongim.
This trip was a little different than our usual race weekends out of town. We brought the family! Chris, Emma (my step-daughter), and the dogs piled into the truck. We hooked up our 1970s Rockwood Pop-up Camper, locked the bikes on, and headed out Friday at 3 PM. My parents (Lisa & Jerome) followed a few hours later in their RV.
Friday was all about the relaxing and family time. Luckily, we drove through the thunderstorm and it quit raining right when we arrived. Once the rain stopped, Emma hit the bikes and explored the campground. We finished the night up with the board game SORRY, and s’mores over the fire. It was an early bedtime for our family. Snugged up in the camper by 10 PM.
Chris and I woke up early to explore London, KY by bike. We cruised around town, checked out Levi Jackson State Park, explored the race course, and finished back at the campsite ready for breakfast. The best part of camping with family is the amazing food my mom brings. Belgian waffles and blueberries!
Some are probably thinking, what are we going to do the whole day before the race at 4:30?
TIME TO HIKE.
Our campsite was right in front of the Boone Trace Hiking Trail. We gathered the crew (4 adults, 1 child, 3 dogs) and headed out onto the soggy trail. We trucked past bright orange mushrooms resembling beautiful flowers, crawled under low hang spider webs, and climbed over down trees. The trail ended at the McHargue’s Mill.
The Mill is temporarily closed but you can still check out the millstones and the duck pond. We stopped and read up on how the mill worked and how the millstones functioned. It was so cool to see how they were used to grind up wheat, nuts, and even corn.
We finished up the trail with a little geocaching. We noticed earlier that these woods are full of poison ivy. Chris ventured into the forest alone to find it. This is a perfect hike for kids. It is short, not too technical, and there are plenty of historic features along the way. Also, as of right now there is one geocache along this hike if you are not afraid of a little itching.
We stayed at the Levi Jackson State Park Campground. When we arrived on Friday we were handed a packet full of activities for the kids. From 12-6pm there was a different activity almost every hour. So with our creativity in hand, Emma and I headed to the recreation area. We met some other kids and painted masterpieces. Tired from the morning’s adventures, we took the next hour to eat and relax.
3:30 PM we headed to the race. It’s less than a mile from the campground but we still decided to drive. You never know what you may need. I was able to get in 3 full laps before the riders meeting. That was enough to know the turns and get a feel for the terrain. After my first lap I popped out of the woods looking for Emma and Chris. They were nowhere to be found. Come to find out, Emma was right behind me on the trail. To give you a little information about Emma, we have never taken her on a mountain bike trail before. She loved it! I would definitely recommend this trail for kids getting into the mountain biking scene.
4:30 PM and we lined up.
I was nervous. All I could remember was the pain from Short Track this summer. You could hear others talking about how slick the course was and how slippery the roots were from the rain the day before. In the corner of my eye I can see the ramps, were they going to be slick? Was I going to crash on them? As concerns were piling up, finally the siren went off. My foot slipped and I missed my pedal. Total fail. I tried again, missed. Five tries later and I am finally on the bike. I headed down the hill and into the first sharp left up the climb.
As soon as I hit the ramp all my fears went away. I had never gone over a ramp like this before and man it was fun. Caught up in the jumps I soon found myself fighting to get into the woods first. I stood up and cranked ahead into the trail. With the temperature rising into the 90s it was refreshingly cooler in the woods. The trail was completely shaded and heavily wooded.
The first section I hit was a rolling climb. I hit the first sharp steep turn and quickly lost momentum. I buckled down and cranked up the climb. I crested the top and descended into tight twisting turns. If you are all about cornering, this is your kind of race.
I hit my favorite part next. I glided into the next set of rolling descents and turns. I took each turn light on my bike and trying to remember to lean my bike not my body. The trail was slick in the turns and I did not want another crash like at Mohican 100K.
I entered the last section of trail. This was a fresh cut trail. (what a great way to break in new ground). The ground was soft and ended with a jump. As the day went on this jump became sketchier for me. I came very close to taking a nose dive.
This is the first mountain bike race Emma has seen me in. I could hear her voice throughout the course, yelling and cheering me on. At one point I passed her and she ran after me cheering and pushing me to ride faster. My heart swelled. Her enthusiasm and excitement exuded throughout the day. This was all the reason I needed to keep racing.
I finished the heat and was peer pressured into a Wheelie. I had practiced earlier in the day but never really got it. Something happened when I finished, and I got in more pedal strokes than I had ever done before. My second Wheelie of the day might’ve almost taken Keith Cottongim out but maybe I will blame that on the heat.
I finished the race feeling strong and had so much fun on the course. It was so awesome to have my family at the race and such a perfect one for them to attend. It was short and they could easily spectator. What more could you ask for on a Saturday in July?
Right after my first heat Taylor Upchurch from WYMT Mountain News asked to interview me. I was so excited it was hard to contain it. Not only did I just win $100 for that heat, I was going to be on the news. So cool.
Between heats I drank 1 bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water. No solid food for me between races. For me liquid calories work best especially since this is a high paced race. What were others eating/drinking? Well if you have ever been to a BOONDOGGLE event, it’s a casual fun atmosphere. You want to eat a pound of hummus go for it, you want to drink a beer go for it, you want to take a nap go for it. That’s what I love about these races, there isn’t that nervous tension of the race beforehand.
Emma took the line with her game face on. She has only ever raced the kid’s course at Short Track in Louisville. So today was her first ever mountain bike race. She was so excited that she forgot to start the Garmin. 😉 The kid’s course was a tight circle with the big log ramp in the middle. Chris and I both looked at each other with concern. But Emma fearlessly said, “I can do it!” The siren went off!
Emma hit the ramp and boom she crested the top and flew over the other side. (thanks again to the volunteers for helping her stay safe during the race). She took the next sharp turn and started on her second lap. On the next lap she hit the ramp with much more speed and big wide eyes. She crested the top and descended the backside safely and confidently. She finished the race and I am so proud that she hit her first ramp. No fear. My mountain biking girl.
One last thing about a BOONDOGGLE race… these races have the best and most entertaining sports announcer. Keith will keep you guessing, laughing, and really enjoying the race as a spectator. It’s hard to explain why, I can only say come to one and find out.
My husband, Chris Shannon ended up winning open Men which means that I was to face him in the Grand Champion Showdown. At every BOONDOGGLE the winner of the men and women’s race battle for the GOLDEN #1 and Grand Champion title. This year was Russian Roulette style…PIE FACE GAME
I spun the dial and it landed on 5. click, click, SMACK! It was a quick DRAW and before I knew it I had whipped cream dangling from my nose. It’s things like this that make this race/event worth coming to even if you are not a racer. I cannot wait for the next BOONDOGGLE RACE on September 29th.
Sunday was filled with a late breakfast and then headed straight to Treetop Adventure in Levi Jackson State Park. It opened at 12 and we made it right before the crowd. We received awesome half off passes from the race thanks to Chris Robinson. Even without the passes it is worth it. I think it is a reasonable price and pretty cool you pay to do as many courses as you can in 2 hours. They have 5 courses ranging from easy (yellow) to black diamond (very difficult).
We completed the sunshine and then jumped to the green trail putting us up to 20 feet above the ground. This was the icing on the cake. Awesome to see my family working together to make it through the courses. After a fun-filled weekend I am stoked to say we will for sure be back to Levi Jackson State Park and Treetop Adventures to camp and conquer more fears.
Thanks so much for reading The Outlaw Race Report & Adventure. I hope to inspire families to race and camp together. If you have any questions about the BOONDOGGLE races or how to camp with the family comment below. Also if you know of any family fun mountain bike races East of the Mississippi River comment below!