Monday, March 7, 2016

Fat Bike Birkie 2016

In the event of you being interested in a write-up of my Fat Bike Birkie experience, you are in luck.

Last year: The 2015 FBB was my first one, and despite overheating/over-exerting and puking, I had a great time. The hills were brutal, so I was determined to train for the next year to make the actual race more enjoyable.

The race itself is a great production, and I don't generally care for racing, but if you're gonna do one expensive race a year, this is a great one to do.

Training: In the weeks leading up to the race, I trained exclusively on my singlespeed mountain bike (thanks nice weather!). I'd head out for 12-15 miles at a time, hitting a lot of hills, usually four to five times per week. It sucked. For you locals, one night I did the Carson Park hill repeatedly for nine miles, up and down and up and down. Also, I threw in one night of resistance training/yoga each week.

The race: I signed up for the 20k, intent on improving my performance. Last year I was 111 out of 179 racers, 13 out of 20 in my age group, with a race time of 1:28:17 for about 12.5 miles. Not horrible for a turd like me.

This year I wound up 108 out of 269 racers total, 22 out of 39 in my age group, with a race time of 1:15:55. I was happy to have cut my race time down by just over twelve minutes! And actually the race this year was a bit longer at between 13.5 and 14.5 miles!

I warmed up longer, and took it easy on the 1.5 mile roll out, planning to CRUSH racers once we hit the snow. And CRUSH I did. I cat-sixed people like crazy, especially on the hills - likely a bunch of roadies trying to mash in the snow, while I kept my butt planted in my seat, and hammered on up. Only times I had to walk were when somebody just ahead of me washed out and I couldn't swerve around them, a huge improvement over last year.

A couple kilometers into the trail, I settled into leading a group of about five of us that would remain behind me until the aid station. Speaking of the aid station, it came up fast, which was nice because it was just past the halfway point. I stopped for a gel thing and some water and many of those that I passed blew right on by me like I was standing still (I actually was standing still). I hate getting passed, but the race entry fee was expensive so I made sure to choke down some gel packs!

Anyway, after probably a minute at the station, I was off! My training paid off, as I caught just about every single one that passed me! One dude was even trying to draft me. But a hard brake had him eating trail. I even caught some dude that I couldn't shake from before the aid station. I think having it come up so quick got me all kinds of PUMPED.

And now to the last stretch, 1.5 miles of pavement to the finish. Remember those roadies I crushed in the snow? Well a few of them reappeared and then proceeded to fly by me like I just did to them over the last 15kms. Two ladies in purple (and pink I think) overtook me close to the finish and I tried to catch them, but couldn't. If there had been another km, I bet I could of, but I'm kind of glad there wasn't. One dude in blue, he was on my tail for the last km or so of trail, and once we hit the pavement, dude shot forward to the finish line so furiously I kind of thought he was going to just explode.

Overall, I feel really good about my performance, despite the bummer in how I finished in my age group.

The after party and raffle: The Seeley Sawmill again hosted the after party, great venue. Last year, everything was up for raffle. Buy a bunch of tickets and throw them into the buckets for whichever items you like. Then an hour or two later, they had "random" draws for a winner of each. Note that the local mountain biking org (CAMBA) puts the raffle on, and did a great job of acquiring awesome prizes. The problem here is that many attendees noted that a strange majority of the winners were CAMBA members and volunteers. Also observed was a lack of mixing up the tickets, with the person doing the drawing just grabbing one from the top, rather than stirring them all up, weird. We (Heckyeahwoman and I) actually won one of the top prizes, so note that we are not bitter losers here.

This year, the format changed: all of the big items were in a silent auction. Most of the smaller stuff was in a traditional raffle format, with tickets being drawn throughout the evening, and likely the auction winners getting announced at the end. I don't know for sure because we took off after a beer. It likely resulted in people with a bunch of disposable income purchasing the prizes and then later flipping them online for a nice profit. In fact, the singlespeed 907 fat bike (on silent auction) was up for sale already as of Monday morning. I left happy knowing that I did not contribute a cent.

Funny note: we bumped into some friends, and the husband and wife both won the same shirt via the raffle, though hers was likely used, and had bonus light stains on it. And was too big.

Next year: I will be back, looking to shave ten minutes off my race time.

Shout out: The Flat Creek Inn was great! The room was huge and clean. Also the Angry Minnow brewpub was fantastic.

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