Monday, September 16, 2013

Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival

Well it's a wrap, another Cheq 40 race weekend has come and went...just like that! 363 days until next years race!! I love the Cheq Fat Tire Festival so much that its a race I have looked forward to for almost an entire year! Well partly because I had some revenge to get after last years mechanical problems, but mostly because this race draws thousands of racers and who doesn't love a big time event with an epic roll-out!
 

That's Me!

After racing this past weekend I have realized that after almost every race I'll think, and often even say "man I felt terrible" for a large portion of that race. In reality I really felt awesome, powerful, in control and strong. Sure I had a few moments where I was struggling to grab on to the packs of dudes ripping past me, and a few hills that really took their toll, but that's just racing! I mean if I was out there for more than 2 and a half hours and felt really good the entire time it's likely I was on a stroll to Tin Fish for Tacos instead of racing my bike! I even have some horrifying grimace photos the official race photographer took to prove I was throwing it. Unfortunately I couldnt' afford to show you as I'm pretty sure I spent this week's bike fund getting my new CX bike ready to race. Yes!! It's CX season!!!

Anyways, more on that later this week... back to the race. Tom and arrived in Hayward Friday night and we quick stopped in Riverbook Bike and Ski! Tom dropped off a bike for Tim and we chatted it up with Steve, mostly jonesing on this years fat bike line up and getting all jacked up for winter riding (too soon i know!!). Owners Tim and Cindy really have an awesome shop in downtown Hayward. Basically it's an old library turned bad ass bike shop.

It's certainly one of the coolest shops I've ever been in, and you can tell their was a woman's touch with the cute dressing rooms and nicely decorated bathroom. Finally a bike shop bathroom that doesn't have chain grease all over it :) Anyways next time you're up in Hayward you should check it out!
 
We chowed down at the pre-race pasta dinner and finally made our way to the motel around 9:30 pm. I reiterate the best thing ever about mountain biking is the race didn't start 10:00 am so we got to ease our way into the chilly Saturday morning. Yes chilly....we woke up to 38 degree temps and I was freaking out and basically checking weather.com every 10 minutes to see if it was getting warmer...the worst thing ever would have been to have had to wear my arm warmers...arm warmers suck. Luckily it warmed up and we had a PERFECT day. The sun was shining and really I don't think you get much better race day weather than we got. 60 degree bliss!

I had earned a spot in the 2nd gate with some recent race results and turns out everyone was there at like 7 am to set down their bikes and stake claim to a good spot. I had only brought one bike and since I was already late to the party I chose to warm up longer and worry less about my start spot. First world problems. Finally the cannon went BOOM!! and we were off!! 

I felt great on the roll out and could instantly tell mounting up a set of Kenda Small Block 8's was a stellar choice. I patted myself on the back. I also felt noticeably better during  the first hour of the race than I had remembered feeling last year! My goal was to really push myself to stay with a group of men that was just slightly faster than me. I surely did this better than last year, but the biggest room in this house is the room for improvement and boy do I have some work to do before next year! oh, and did I mention there are a lot of hills at Chequamegon?! That's probably the biggest difference between Ore to Shore and this race. It was like a continuous annoying roller coaster. I thought I liked hills, but I guess maybe everything is good in moderation? As Larry at The Fix Studio likes to say "some days you're the hammer, some days you're the nail." When it came to the hills... I'm pretty sure I was the nail Saturday.

But I did catch a 2nd wind at the top of the Fire Tower (a super ridiculous climb). As I crested the top everyone was cheering and it looked like a really fun party...Hollywood Jay was at the top and he screamed "you're 9th female" and I heard a gal stoked for me yelling "you're top ten! you can get top ten!" It's amazing the impact encouragement can have during a race....I got a massive jolt of energy from that special moment (thank you Jay and everyone else up there!!). It was huge and I seriously felt like I had just started the race all over again. Top 10 was my main goal for this race and I was able to grab a fast Twin Six Metal wheel that carried me most of the final miles!! I think his name was Eric? I buried myself the last mile all the way to the finish line and was SO STOKED to be 9th Overall Female!!! This race attracts some amazing talent and I'm so incredibly fortunate to have stood up on the podium with all these amazing women!


I was also elated to hear that a fellow Foundry rider who is back racing after nearly a decade killed it and placed 8th overall for the men. Apparently this guy rides his bike 35 miles to and from work each day rain, snow or shine. Talk about tough as hell.
  

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