Stottlemeyer 30 Race Report
Last year I raced Stottlemeyer as a 60 mile course, I did well but it hurt… a lot. This year I have decided to stick to the shorter races and have more fun and boy am I glad I did.
Rather than break up each class into its own start the race organizers divided the 30 milers into two mass starts. My singlespeed class started 10 minutes behind the first wave along with about 100 other people. The course started off with a 2 mile climb on dirt road before heading into singletrack. I didn’t warm up at all before the start so I decided to make this my warmup as best I could and hit it pretty hard.
I had learned from last year’s race that once you hit the singletrack you are stuck in a traffic jam almost immediately as rider after rider fails clear the first trail obstacle. So that was all the more incentive to put as many people behind me as possible. Despite how early it was in the race everyone seemed to be taking it easy so it wasn’t all that hard to make good progress through the field, especially as the road got steeper. I saw a few other singlespeeds on this road but I passed everyone I could find assuming there was one more ahead, because there always is. I unfortunately caught a group of about 8 people just at the entrance of the singletrack and ended up getting caught in the traffic I was hoping to avoid. A couple pulled over but there were just too many to pass in the tight trail. Luckily someone leading the train made a wrong turn and took everyone but me with them. I was able to take the right trail and as my reward had clear sailing for a long time which is killer when you are on a singlespeed and have a steep & twisty climb ahead of you. <singlespeed-smugness>You don’t know how painful it is to have to go up a hill at a geared rider’s pace.</singlespeed-smugness>
I did eventually hit some more traffic but for the first time in a long time the riders seemed more than happy to pull over. Most of the time I didn’t even have to say anything, perhaps its the alarmingly loud Hope hub. There were some guys behind me that were kind of bitchy about the traffic and whined like asshats about wanting to pass. Every time some one move over for me they yelled “one more” even though they weren’t even close enough to legitimately take the pass. Having them behind me was a huge incentive to pin it and pull away. Eventually I did.
The trail spit eventually spit out on a long stretch of road. Once again, despite my one gear, I was able to keep the bike moving faster than everyone with gears. Uphill I get, and downhill makes sense too because of my gravitational pull advantage, but it was weird to have it happen on the flats too. Shortly after I passed by the first aid station I heard a couple of women behind me announcing they were the women’s leaders and asking to pass. As the trail got wider I pulled over and kept moving as Beth Ann Orton and Kari Studley flew. I did everything I could to stay on Kari’s wheel. We quickly caught more traffic and I was amazed to discover how quickly men pull over when they hear the women are coming through. Since I also wasn’t in the same class as most of these people I tried to make the pass the same time the women did. It didn’t always work though and eventually we got separated.
Kari had a mechanical at the base of a hill so I was able to pass her back there. The singletrack from that point on was the perfect flowy kind that just makes you want to go fast. So fast that I missed a turn that had not been marked properly. I realized it almost immediately, fixed the course tape and then got back on the bike just as Kari passed me again. I chased her wheel a while longer as she worked to catch up to Beth. Once we hit road again we could see Beth up ahead. I bridged the gap on the hill but Kari didn’t come with me. I entered the trail on Beth’s wheel and followed her for a long time before my handlebar clipped a tree and I went down (wide bars still rule). Kari caught up to me as I picked my glasses and bottle up off the ground, this time she brought a singlespeed competitor with her. I got back on my bike between them and once again got on her wheel as we chased Beth through more perfect singletrack.
We hit a road stretch one more time and I again pulled away from Kari and caught and this time passed Beth, knowing there was another SSer on my ass had me pushing even harder than I already was. I never saw any one of them again but I could occasionally hear them behind me letting all the men know they were coming through. I passed Dirty at the the aid station as I started my second lap. I wasn’t sure how close that other SSer but my legs, even though they started to cramp, still felt strong so I just pushed as hard as I could. I eventually caught up with Glass. He told me that he hadn’t seen any other SSers and it was at that point I had first thought I might be in the lead. I am so used to having someone ahead of me that it never really crossed my mind that I could be leading the race. From that point on the race was really uneventful–I just pushed as hard as I could and rode as cleanly as I could. I was just eternally grateful that I didn’t have to do another 2 laps.
When I crossed the finnish line my first priority was to find some water to drink to wash out the taste of Heed from my mouth. After that I grabbed a hot dog and some sport beer and sat around in my camping chair watching the finishers. I didn’t really let myself believe I had won until they called my name for the “podium”. But it was real, and I have the bottle opener medal to prove it.
I want to thank everyone for the kudos in email, on person and on Facebook. This race was my first race win (in any discipline) so it was cool to fell so supported and celebrated. I have the best team ever.