Big Ring Challenge (Jack Rabbit Campground)

Muddy day at Big Ring 2015
Muddy day at Big Ring 2015

This is my third year in a row to race the Big Ring Challenge. Last year was a muddy mess. I remember lots of peanut butter mud and lots of repairs to the bike afterwards. I enjoy racing the team much more than 3-hour or 6-hour solo. I like that hour of rest in between and no camelback on the laps, but this year took on the 3-hour series. Next year, I’d like to return to Big Ring Challenge if I’m not working and do a team again.

Anyway, this year I rode with Noel up on Saturday morning and had plenty of time to wait on an egg white delight at McDonald’s (forgot breakfast), unload and time to warm up. It was nice not having to rush as I usually do. Eric and Mike were already there and saw Ron, too, who races with my husband. I did have time to pick up Noel’s bike and notice the difference in weight. Oh, snap! I want that bike.

The kids’ race was underway and the weather was warming up. We started out with a fog hanging in the area, but it dissipated quickly as the sun took over. We have been in the middle of a straight run of 90 plus degree days and I had a feeling that the course would be dry and slick unlike the Black Bear Rampage the week before.

We had the mandatory riders’ meeting and saw Star prior to the beginning. I assumed she was doing the team and hoped I would be able to hang out with her after the 3-hour race was over, but she was doing the 6-hour solo. Torture!

I had time to warm-up and find a bathroom at least three times prior to the start. Nervous bladder hits again. I carried about 72 ounces of water and 7 scoops of my custom made Infinit. I had a Honey Stinger waffle and a Honey Stinger gel in my back pocket, too.

Oh yeah, I carried a chain tool this time and a quick link along with a tube and CO2, etc.

The 6-hour racers started at 10:00 and we started at 10:15. The first 0.4 miles was pavement. I learned immediately that I did not have the right chainring in the front. It’s called Big Ring for a reason, folks, but I was still running my 50% used up chain with two quick links back-to-back. My heart rate never increased much in the beginning, and so it was evident I was holding back. I watched Noel pull away along with many others. I am not sure why I can’t seem to be more competitive in the beginning. Maybe I’m missing fast-twitch muscles?

Lap 1 had a lot of frustration mainly because of the usual trying to pass people. At one point, a couple of guys were behind me and a man and kid in front of me. The two behind me were getting impatient and tried to pass me several times as I was trying to pass the two in front of me. Finally, after many attempts and overexerting myself stopping and going, I passed the two in front of me and the guy behind me passed me. There is always a lot of wasted energy on the table with the passing game. My cadence was higher than in the past, my heart rate averaged higher than I would have liked maxing out at 180. The ole’ ticker was the only thing holding me back because my legs were ready to go. My heart was not. 2016_chain-busters_big-ring-challenge-1832-zf-5026-20250-1-001

Lap 2 I hit a rhythm. My heart rate was still climbing averaging out at 170 or so. I was feeling it. Eric and Mike passed me I think on the 2nd lap.

Lap 3 I was ready to be done. Then I saw Ron Marcus. The Village Volkswagen blue and yellow kind of sticking out in a sea of mountain bike outfits. Oh but I gotta beat Ron. Yes, my head kept saying it over and over. Beat Ron. Some guy in front of me was going around Ron and so I did, too. “Hey Ron,” I think I said. What I was thinking was, “Hey Ron, you gonna let me beat you?” Maybe I said it? He said he was going to hang on to my wheel but he didn’t. We were climbing.

On the descent, I let up because that’s what I do and Ron passed me on a switchback on the downhill. Dang it.

And so I attempted to sprint in following him and telling him he better pedal because I was going to catch him.

Ron beat me by seconds. It sure made the ending more fun!

Well until I saw he was riding a rigid.

3 Hour Female Race (because I like to see all of them lined up): this includes novice, base, sport and expert women:

  1. Beth Lofgren – Lap 1: 54:49.46; Lap 2: 52:56.07; Lap 3: 54:54.30 — total time 2:42:39.83 (3 laps)
  2. Christine Grant – Lap 1: 55:45.92; Lap 2: 56:04.02; Lap 3: 55:54.57 — total time 2:47:44.51 (3 laps)
  3. Bianca Pearson – total time 2:53:09.84 (3 laps)
  4. Kelly Gwin – total time 2:53:14.41 (3 laps)
  5. Michele Allgire – total time 2:54:40.64 (3 laps)

The rest of the field did 2 laps or 1 lap – 9 more ladies. So out of 14 ladies… I had the best time, and I’m happy about that. I do know next year I will do 6-hour if I can make any of the races. Big Ring will be top on my list.

I cannot wait to see how a Trek Top Fuel handles that course.


SEC #2 Green Gobbler (Chain Buster Racing)

2016_Green_Gobbler-1005-(ZF-10428-20249-1-005)Chain Buster Racing’s website says, “Our biggest race of the year, the Green Gobbler is held at the 1996 Olympic mountain bike venue: the Georgia International Horse Park.” Another course I had never seen or ridden. The week before proved to be a little trying in the Lofgren household. My oldest came down with a pretty serious stomach virus that hit on Thursday evening with a fever and vomiting on Friday. Friday night landed us in a clinic in the evening upon his insisting. I figured I would take him since he was begging to see a doctor. I guess at the age of 7, he was serious though I knew there is not a lot you can do about a stomach virus but just wait it out and use a lot of bleach. We ended up ruling out appendicitis purely out of “just in case” because I knew it was nothing other than one of the -virus (entero-, roto-, adeno-, etc…) but decided to waste a good six hours and sleep that I needed for Saturday. Kids come first.2016_Green_Gobbler-789-(ZF-10428-20249-1-004)

I ended up with 4.5 hours of sleep which is horrible for me. I knew I was going to be digging super deep and didn’t expect to feel great. I caught a ride down to the venue with a couple of friends and immediately noticed the humidity. I kept with the usual mL/hr of fluid and should have upped it. Hindsight.

I watched the 6 hour people speed off and felt my heart racing before it began. Finally it was our turn, and we were off. I had positioned myself up close to the front only to let fast people pass me in the open field part hoping that I didn’t start out too slow, but I did. I was sluggish. I always go through this self-talk during the start of a race where it is almost like I have to talk myself into continuing and you will settle out. Calm down. Spin. Breathe. Get lost in your music. Go.

2016_Green_Gobbler-511-(ZF-10428-20249-1-003)I loved the beginning. Flow, and lots of flow. I was able to really let go more than usual and my bike felt like a part of me. This is one reason I really want to find a carbon superfly frame and keep my stuff. I just love the design of the superfly FS. I am so resistant to change! There were two big climbs on each lap, and the first climb was a stinger. My heart rate hit 189, and I almost panicked. I had thoughts of cardiac stress tests and pain. There were always people gathered at the top catching their breaths. It was seriously quite the climb.

The second climb was more open and a stinger in itself.

Every lap magnified the pain more and more on those climbs. I saw a couple huge snakes. The creeks were fun – I would just completely let go as fast as I could go and kind of bomb through them hoping I wouldn’t flat.

I ended up being fairly steady lap to lap but definitely felt I wasn’t 100% healthy this time. I still ended up 1st in Sport 3 hr, and I’ll take that! Chain Busters puts on a great race, and I loved this course so much more than Tribble Mill.