Monday, July 2, 2012

Lutsen 39er...MUDFEST!

This past weekend we took to the North Shore for the Lusten 39er race.  The longer distance 99er race was the main event, but I’m still on my mountain bike training wheels so I went with the shorter distance that I could actually wrap my head around...and thank God since it was an epic mudfest!   The awful flood that struck Duluth over the past week had me worried 1. We might not make it up to Lutsen 2. They might cancel the race.  Pretty ridiculous actually when folks in Duluth are in despair...but I was so excited for this race I would have been real sad to have missed it...besides RAIN = MUD = DIRTY and I was stoked for that kind of race! 

My parents came along for the weekend away and the four of us made it up to the race no doubt, and actually all we could see as a result of the flood was a seriously nasty brown Lake Superior.  We laughed at the thought of TCat swimming through that mess during the Superiorman Half in a couple months!  We also couldn't pass up a stop at Gooseberry was spectacular and in full roar!!
Hot Papa Calhoun!

We arrived at the Eagle Ridge Resort in Lutsen Friday afternoon and immediately I loved the atmosphere, so casual and laid back with a nice touch of energy...kind of like sitting in a coffee shop listening to someone play their guitar...chill.  We grabbed dinner on the patio, I even had a couple lucky pre-race Corona's and was so excited about the fact that I wasn't nervous for this race at all...I was just excited for  fun day...and I suppose my expectations were minimal.  

Pre Race chillin'
Race morning came quickly and soon enough I was trying figure out what was a proper place for me to position myself in the corral.  This actually involved me checking to see if any women were ahead of me and if so inching my way forward.  The star spangled banner was played, and a rifle was shot!  We were off!  Since the race was downhill they had a van in front keeping the race speed under 20 mph...Which was fine and I actually appreciated a chance to warm up the legs.  People were chatty in the pack and I loved how everyone was just out here to "have fun!" About 5 miles in we took a left and started a climb that I swear would never end.  They call this a category 3 climb, but I’m not even sure what the means...let’s just say it kept climbing and climbing and climbing...probably like 3 miles worth of it. During this section I was passed by a gal in the 39er and I just couldn't get my legs to go with her.  I stared at her blue jersey 200 yards off into the distance and then she was gone! The next 20 miles or so are pretty blurry and involved some tar, gravel roads grass, big rocks in the swamps...yes full on 2 feet of water pits.  I was nervous at the first swampy pit and after making it through I was ecstatic! "This is so much fun" muddy water was flying up even into the back of my bike shorts…it was wild!  During this section I was riding with about 10-12 guys and some were actually telling me they would help me catch the gal in first. What a nice change of pace from the guy you pass in a tri that can't believe he is getting beat by a girl!  I found myself really enjoying the pack riding way more than I expected and couldn't believe the advantage you can get riding in a pack. 

Things were going really well until BAM the guy in front of me t-boned a rock and went head first over the handlebars...I had to slam my brakes to avoid riding over him and his was gnarly!! I yelled to see if he was okay and he said "yes" and I made him say it twice before I kept on going. At this point the back broke apart and i rode about 10 miles by!! until I was caught by the chase pack behind me.  I jumped on and rode with them until we got to the last 4 mile section.  This was supposed to be "single track" but let me tell you it was nothing like the single track I had ridden at home, it was grassy and swampy and muddy and at some points it even appeared I was riding down a creek.  With about 1 mile to go I saw the blue way...I couldn't believe it. She was struggling in the rugged "single track" sections and I was able to catch her and make a pass on one of the turns.  All the sudden "oh my gosh... I am WINNING THE RACE!!"  I am not used to winning races and whenever this seems to happen I seriously PANIC!!  I would look back on occasion to see if she was gaining on me on the hills since I knew she was a powerful rider.  I also knew that the last part of the race involved a super steep perhaps 200 meter long climb..  Finally it was in sight however I was completely TOAST.  At one point the slope was so steep I toppled off my bike...I was trying so hard to get back on and looking back seeing the blue jersey gal was 15 yards was a miracle that I was able to get back on and pedal my way up the rest of the hill and across the finish line! 

 I WON THE RACE!!! I was shocked!!! I had never won a race before....6 years of Tri’s, running, etc and I won my first race on mountain bike!! Who would have thought??? I finally am worthy of drinking out of Tom's "winner's mug."  ( you see he has this mug from winning the Dreidel Dash 5k this past fall and if I ever would have coffee in it he would say "are you sure you should be using that? Hilarious!!) Take that Tom!
Post Race...I was Smashed!


  1. Tom: "Are you sure you should be using that?"
    You: "HELLS YEAH!!!!!!!!"

    Nice work April!!