Monday, June 3, 2013

Bear Scat 50





I have done enough endurance races to know that they are not my thing. Yet, one week prior to the Bearscat 50, I had a little brain glitch, and thought this might be a race for me to try. I am not sure if it was the predicted good weather, the fact that the race was on my home turf at Wawayanda, or if after eleven years had passed, I had completely forgotten how much these races can hurt, but I found myself registered to race 50 miles on some of the most demanding rocky single-track around.

So my game plan was to ride comfortably, in control, and clean on the technical sections and not to push my legs harder than they wanted to go on the first lap. If my legs felt bad, I could stop after one lap, with a good ride under my belt, minus the 2 weeks recovery.

I got off to good start, thanks to the mellow start. I was comfortably within the top 5 and was able to ride the rock bridge at the end of pump house trail. I was warned that I would be walking in traffic, so this was better than expected. When I started to penetrate the back of the men’s field, they were really accommodating to let me through ...even better.

Things seemed good, and then I heard a jingly noise and noticed my saddle felt loose. My first thought was that I broke a saddle rail, so I stopped to take a look. Both bolts were loose and almost falling out. So I dug around my pack to find my eyeglasses and the right size wrench. I noticed a few ladies pass me, and a bunch of guys that I had just passed were now passing me back. Although a little discouraged, I focused on the task and got myself up and riding again in 4-5 minutes.

One good thing about a long race is that I had plenty of time to catch back up if I wanted. It took me a few miles, but I caught back up and got myself back into 4th or 5th place. Then the jingling came back and I now had to squeeze the saddle between my legs to hold it still. As much as I wanted to hold my position, I was forced to stop again and this time, crank those bolts down as hard as I could. I lost count of how many women came by, I just needed to get this fixed or I would be out of the race. A racer stopped and chatted with me. I am not sure why he stopped, but it helped me step out of my race momentarily and slow my head down to concentrate on fixing my bike. Thank you Robert!

It took the balance of the lap, but I passed six women back and was reported to be in 4th place once again. I stopped in the feed zone at the half mark to get water, gel and potatoes and was on my way for round two. I started lap two a little faster and started to ride sloppy, so I backed off a tad. I also noticed that my legs were getting tired about half way through the second lap. I ate everything in my pockets and decided I needed the 38 mile rest stop to refill water and electrolytes. Art was not there, but Bruce and the Black Bear guys took great care of me, filling my bottle and retrieving stuff from my drop bag.

The last 14 miles were tough, and it was hot by this time of day as well. My legs were tired, my big toe was cramping and my arms were so tired, I wanted to let go of the handlebars. I pushed ahead and got through the climbs and to my surprise I was still able to enjoy the technical single-track, just a little slower, and pretending it didn't hurt.

Two laps, 2 gels, 2 heeds, 2 fizz tablets, 2 potatoes, 2 pretzels and 2 fig newtons later, I found myself at the end of a 50 mile race with a smile. The smile was mostly because I was glad to be done, but I feel accomplished for repairing my bike and completing the race. More than half the racers did not complete 2 full laps. Although a little long and grueling for my regular race schedule, a welcome challenge, and a good result for me.


2 comments:

titus100x1 said...

Great Job Ellen. Reminds me when I did the Shenandoah 100. I was about 18 miles in and riding with the leaders when a rock must have jammed in my sprocket on a long tech downhill and bent 3 links in my chain somehow in 3 different sections. I had to remove all 3 sections which took me over 30 minutes. I had 82 miles to go with a chain so short I had to ride the granny front. I could only use the middle if I was in the smallest 2 cogs on the back. I never though my chain would hold together even to the next rest stop, but I somehow it hung together for the entire race. That was an amazing feeling crossing that finish considering how depressing it was to be so far up front and then restart way in the back of the pack, let alone thinking it was only a matter of time before my chain disintegrated. Great job.

titus100x1 said...

P.S - That was from Frank Wilkes.