Saturday, September 25, 2010

Peanut Butter Festival - Bike the Wilds

18th place Masters - 1:57
Overall 11th in the 36-49 division.

What to do, what to do. The last race in the Bike the Wilds series was Saturday, and the first race of the Month of Mud series began on Sunday. Which should I pick? I know that I don't recover well, and doing two races in two days would mean I wouldn't do well in either. So what did I do? Yeah, chose to do both races anyway. My philosophy would be to put in a solid, not an all-out effort on Saturday, so that I'd have something left in the legs for Sunday.

The Peanut Butter Festival is held in New Bethlehem, and as you get close to the town you can smell peanuts. The whole town smells of peanuts. The Smuckers factory makes their peanut butter there, and if you have peanut allergies, this is probably not the place to live.

I pulled into the parking lot and registered. I could tell from the beginning that this was a well-organized race. Did a warm up, and got in line. The race began with a sprint down one of the back streets.

Races are interesting events. Often I think I go just to people watch. For instance, there's about a hundred cyclists all sprinting down this road, and there's a guy next to me on a single speed riding with no hands. He might as well have put a sign on his back that said, Look at me! Look at me! One slight bump, one unseen pothole, this guy could have taken out half the field. I guess it takes all kinds.

We leave the road to enter a cemetery and the singletrack. Had I realized the bottleneck here, I probably would've sprinted a lot more. But there I was practicing my track stands. We got to the first downhill, and I hear everyone yelling about a really steep descent. I see people dismounting. I get to the top of the descent, and laugh to myself. I'm clearly too far in the back of the pack, the descent is nothing.

We wind through some singletrack, and everyone's trying to move up in the pack. We're on some doubletrack, and I move over for a down rider. I hear, "Hey, pick a side and stay on it." Great, someone giving me advice on how to ride. Me: "Hey, there's a rider down up here and I need to get around him, but thanks for the advice anyway. Have a great ride." I guess it was better than yelling at the guy.

From here it was a mix of singletrack and doubletrack. Eventually we worked our way to the top of the ridges. There was one section we had to push up one of the steepest hills I can remember. But when you got to the top the view was spectacular.

After all that effort to get up there, it was a blast to ride the hilltops enjoying the view. Since my thought was not to go out, for once I was able to really enjoy the views, and spent some time talking to other racers.

I paced a singlespeeder until we headed downhill back into the woods. Hit a low point in energy here, and a bunch of people passed me.

After a while, and some gels, I got a second wind and started pushing pretty good. Near the end after another horrible climb, we bombed downhill back into town. The downhill was on a loose dirt road, out in the middle of some fields. I had a top speed of 39 mph, so I can only imagine how fast the experts were going.

I got back into town, and was riding with another guy. We were going pretty casual, until he saw the crowds cheering us in, and off he went. I chased. All the little kids were yelling, "up the hill, up the hill." What they should've been yelling was, "turn left, turn left."

The guy I was with went too far, and to slam on the brakes. That gave me enough notice and I was able to take a hard left and to the finish line.

The trophies were to be given out at the actual Peanut Butter Festival. So I cleaned up and walked down. It was really nice. Lots of food booths, and luckily I was starving. The trophies were given out on a little stage by the reigning Peanut Butter Queen.

Thoughts on the Bike the Wilds series: good vibe, grass roots, close to home, new trails, great volunteers, energetic course directors, need some lessons on how to mark trails, much too hot and humid, a lot of fun. I'll be back next year!

Overall I finished 11th in the 36-49 division.

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