Sunday, August 14, 2011

Race Day- Battle at Alum Creek!

Today was the day that I found out what I was made of.  The Battle of Alum Creek was today and this was my first ever mountain bike race.  Since I have technically only been riding for a little over a year, I guess that is not too surprising, considering everyone else racing have been riding for years.
I got to the course early to register, not quite knowing what to expect.  I paid my money, signed the paperwork, and got my number plate for the bike.  I guess I was a little anxious since I was still an hour early, and now I had to sit around and think about it for at least another hour.
I was running the Novice, Master division, which was a 11ish mile race that started at Alum Creek Beach, then crossed the dam, half a lap around beginner single track at Alum, a lap around P1, then back to the beach!  The Sport division was completing two laps around P1 and the experts were going to do 3!
After what seemed like forever, I finally was called to the starting line with 18 of my 40-50 year old peers!  We were starting a minute behind most of my buddies, and and two minutes behind several others.  At this point in time, there was no way in my mind that I would beat most of the guys in my division, let alone some of my buddies in the earlier heats!  (foreshadowing)!  It seemed like every other rider was riding a $3000+ bike, sporting some top notch gear, and I was riding my lower price Giant Yukon, with limited gear!
The starter set us off and we sprinted through the grass, up the hill to the first turn.  By the time we got to the dam, I was running roughly 11th or 12th in my division.  Most of these guys were road riders so I was concerned  that they would dust me on the dam and I would have to make up ground in the woods!  Instead, I caught myself hanging with several of these guys on the mile and half straight away into the wind across the dam.  With about a quarter mile to go, I made my move and passed 4 guys to get myself in better position for the woods.  It was going to be tough to pass on the tight trails and the less I had to get the better.
I hit the trails hard in about 8th position and was feeling good.  This is my home trail, so I know the trails fairly well.  About a mile into the woods, and after I passed a few of the riders from the divisions in front of me, I saw one of my buddies pushing his bike out of the woods.  Two flats and some nasty cuts and he was a quick DNF!  I rolled on, glad it wasn't me.   We crossed over onto the P1 single track and I was picking off riders at a pretty good clip.  There were several different divisions in front of me, and they had the trails pretty jammed up.   During the first few miles, I got a couple more guys in my division and I was settled into I believe 6th place.   From here, I kept a pretty fast pace, until I hit the creek crossing which I hit like I actually knew what the hell I was doing.  Out of the creek and up the other side onto the boardwalk where I came across a young guy who was very disoriented.  He took a nasty fall and was trying to get his bearings. He seemed to be ok, so I moved on and started my attack again on the rest of my division.  I continued on the rest of the single track and eventually passed another of my fellow team mates, who had blown himself out on the dam crossing and had nothing left.  I got past him and then another guy from the division, and I was now in 5th.
Finished off this section of the race and started heading back around the loop back to the dam.  I caught one more rider immediately and he politely got out of my way ( he must have heard me huffing and puffing).  4th place, but I must admit, I thought it was 3rd at the time!   I closed on two more riders as we exited the woods and we were in a tight pack as we crossed back over to the dam.  I stayed with them for about a quarter mile, then they pulled away on the ride across the dam, which somehow was back into the wind!
I saw my buddy about 100 yards ahead and I made it my goal to catch him before the finish.  I was doing alright until he looked over his shoulder and saw me coming and made up his mind that I wouldn't pass him.  We both finished strong, and he got me by 5 seconds at the line, although he started a minute before me, so I actually beat him anyhow!
Milled around after the race, eating some food and dreaming of a podium placement.  Unfortunately, the guy I couldn't catch coming out of the woods on the dam was also in my division and he beat me by 15 seconds and I wound up 4th.   Although no podium, I did get a prize and scored a pair of riding sunglasses, so it was not for nothing!
Will I do it again, you bet ya!  When, I am not so sure.  The next race will take place on my vacation and the one after that will happen during my next Warrior Dash, so we will see.  One thing is for certain, it was a huge rush to pass as many people as I did during this race.  Especially since I was hoping just to not finish DFL!
Next time, I expect some more fans there to cheer me on!

Update:   Official Scoring....3rd place!


  1. Sounds like you did a hell of a job! Since I don't know the other racers I'd say you deserved to place 3rd too. :)

  2. Thanks, it was a good race, and I was pleased with results! I have to admit, I am a bit hooked and most likely will have to do it again!


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