It’s been a bit too long since I last posted anything about the #BTriders. We’re still riding; however, sales and marketing for Bicycle Theory has kept me so busy lately that just getting to and through our last couple events has been challenge enough. But enough excuses already. Let’s get to the recap.
Saturday, September 24, 2013
Kristine, Phil, and I were the lucky 3 to win a spot in the 2013 Chequamegon 40 race. It was the first ‘cross country’ MTB race for all of us – at least at this distance – so we didn’t really know what we were getting into.
The race starts in Hayward and ends in Cable (Wisconsin – much of it on the Birkebeiner or “Birkie” ski trails, which is just grass this time of year. It was a bit brisk in the morning, but ended up being a perfect day for racing. The adjustment to riding on grass was an interesting one, but fun once you got the hang of it. And I felt really strong on the gravel. Plus, it was a hilly course, which played to my advantaged. So I was able I was able to make good time and finish in just over 3 hours (officially 3:01:35.6).
It wasn’t until after a race that I saw the elevation map. So let me take this opportunity to thank the unknown race veteran who rightly advised us to “save enough for the last 12 miles.” Sweet geezus. And poor Philly ran over a nail just short of the finish line, allowing some other sucker to cross before him.
But overall, it was a really fun experience. We all finished in good time. We got to spend some quality time in together in the north woods along with Willie. And we learned some valuable lessons, like sorting out the return logistics (from Cable back to Hayward) ahead of time.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Heck of the North isn’t your traditional ‘gravel bike race.’ And the 2013 race more than lived up to its name. Not only did we have to battle an already difficult course, but the elements were also against us. For most of the race, it was cold, wet, windy, and muddy as heck.
The Heck course starts in Two Harbors, MN and is pretty flat. But what the Heck lacks in hills, it more than makes up for in brutal off road components. The ATV trails were so rocky that the trailside was littered with rider fixing flats. Many of the ‘brap’ sections were simply un-rideable due to all the mud – as proved by ‘Foxy Knoxy’. And then there was the ‘washboard’ gravel – or rather, washboard mud in the case of this year’s event.
To those that finished, you have my utmost respect. As far as I know, the only #BTrider to finish was Justin. All hail the big man rollin’ on the fat bike! And thank you to the Tam Radish crew for the beers at mile 80!
UPDATE: BJORN (AKA BJ RON, AKA THE BJORN SUPREMECY, AKA DADDY’S HOME) FINISHED TOO! RAWR!
Unfortunately, Adam, Willie, Dave, and I called it quits at that point. Willie and I were both shivering. And by mile 70, I had not only lost the ability to shift out of my big ring, but my rear derailleur was also acting sketchy. Plus, after turning 40 miles of peanut butter in the unending rain with numerous stops for personal and mechanical adjustments, we all agreed it simply wasn’t fun anymore. But maybe most convincingly, Kristine was waiting for us with a warm car after dropping out early in the race due to knee problems.
Admittedly, we were all disappointed about not finishing. We spent the car ride back joking around and tried to make the best of it, but the big DNF still hung over our heads. Then we reached our destination and opened the doors.
In an instant my body started to shiver uncontrollably. I couldn’t get my wet clothes off fast enough as I scrambled to replace them with dry jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. And as we collected ourselves, Adam asked if I’d seen the lips of the women that finished as we arrived?
“No” I said.
“They were blue.”
So I think we made the right call. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure the last 24 miles would have been a race against hypothermia – and me without gears. But we learned several good lessons for next time. And most importantly, we were able to spend some quality time enjoying one another’s company in Duluth over beers.
Next up is the Mammoth Gravel Classic, followed by The Filthy 50, and finally the Dirt Bag. However, there is some question about the Mammoth due to changing schedules and the fact my bike might need some work after riding the Heck. But if we can’t make it in person, we’ll definitely be there in spirit.
Bicycle Theory is a brand marketing company located in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN. Bicycle Theory provides strategic and tactical brand marketing services, including Web design and development, Internet marketing, brand strategy, and identity building.