Race Report: Lisa at Stottlemeyer

On May 11, 2013, Lisa, Cathy and Sandrine represented Spokeswomen Racing at the Stottlemeyer 30 mile marathon mountain bike race. Good times were had by all! Here is Lisa’s race report.

After months of shopping, my beautiful new mountain bike had finally arrived. My first ride on it would be a big one: the Stottlemeyer 30 miler marathon mountain bike race. It was a slightly risky thing to do, but given that my other bike fit terribly and needed some repairs, I decided to ride the new one. After double checking all the bolts and dialing in the fit with Beth of True Balance Training, I was ready to go.

Stottlemeyer is my favorite race! Last year was my first time riding the course, and I hadn’t ever ridden my mountain bike for such a long time. I enjoyed myself but didn’t push too hard. This year, I took Stottlemeyer a little more seriously. I knew how to pack my Camelbak and how to plan my nutrition. I decided to stop at only one of the three possible aid stations (last time I had a leisurely break at each one). I also had an idea of how the course went. As a bonus, my husband Jon was racing, too! It would be his second ever mountain bike race. I joked that I’d be trying to catch him, even though I knew that I’d probably not see him, given that he had a 15 minute head start and is a very strong rider.

We arrived at the course on a beautiful May morning. We couldn’t have asked for better weather: partial clouds and pleasant temperatures made for ideal riding conditions on the dry trails. We signed in and affixed the race numbers. Jon and I warmed up by doing several laps on the ending part of the course, a tricky, twisty section with some log and root obstacles. This ended up being a very good strategy for finishing the race. I was amazed at how well my bike handled roots and logs. What a difference! We made final preparations, locked up the car, and rode over to the starting area.

I cheered for Jon as he started, then happily lined up with my field. Then, in a cloud of dust, we were off! The first part of the course was a long fire road climb, and I set a steady pace, knowing that I’d gain ground on the singletrack later. Short climbs, twisty technical sections, flowy downhills, and beautiful scenery abounded.  This was a great race for me since it had many roots and obstacles. I always gain places when it gets technical. I still enjoyed the ride, but in a more focused way. I tried to keep a steady, hard pace the whole time, and think I did a good job because I wasn’t ever comfortable but also kept myself from blowing up. Races like this always heighten your senses: the hills are steeper, the taste of a Clif Shot Blok is more intense, and the dappled sunlight more beautiful. I found myself trying to maximize my speed and efficiency through every corner and obstacle.

Unfortunately, I did catch Jon. He was walking his bike after breaking his XTR derailleur and chain. He had to walk about 4 miles to an aid station, where a mechanic turned his bike into a singlespeed. Despite this setback, he still beat almost 20 people in the 90-person field! He seemed to be in good spirits despite the mishap.

I yelled out to Jon if he wanted me to stop, but he said no. I continued on, feeling sad, for a few minutes, then decided to stay determined because there was nothing I could do to help. The last eight miles of the race were tough, as the new bike made my lower back tired. I couldn’t find a way to let my back rest, so I decided to ride harder and just finish. When I entered the final, technical section, I was glad to have pre-ridden it. I ended up in a small group of women who were all gunning for the finish. I made it through every technical obstacle and was in front when we emerged from the trees onto the final grass finish. I ended up in a head-to-head sprint with a fast rider on a hardtail 29er. I did a little bike throw right at the line and ended up beating her by an inch! Even though my new bike has more travel than I originally planned, it’s still fast! Pivot engineered the suspension so that it stiffens when you pedal harder. It’s awesome.

I ended up completing the technical 30-mile course in 3:23, which is 20 minutes faster than my previous time. Considering that I’m probably less fit this year, this says good things about my new bike and the more aggressive position I’m in! My lower back felt fine as soon as I stopped. Later that week, I switched to a shorter stem, which seemed to fix things. Many thanks to Beth for the excellent bike fit. Another note: this was possibly the best race fueling and recovery I’ve ever had. I think I’ve finally dialed in what to eat before, during, and after – at least for an event like this. I felt great during and after the race and didn’t even need a nap. Legs were tired but not destroyed the next day. I’ll be back next year, hoping for even more improvements!

See you out there soon!

Read more of Lisa’s writing at http://perchancedream.blogspot.com