Last Saturday Grasshopper and I decided to take in the excitement and fun that is the The Seeley Pre-Fat Mountain Bike Race. We started our little adventure by getting up at 4:30 in the morning so we could leave by 5:30 and get there in time to register and warm-up. It's about a three hour drive from here to Seeley. Every drive three hours with someone in an Audi TT with two mountain bikes on top and all the gear loaded in the back? It's interesting because there is just not a hell of a lot of room. Both of us commented on the amount of gear you take with you for a mountain bike race. It's pretty amazing!
The day was cold, rainy, and the course was quite wet with a lot of mud in some areas. I had some issues deciding what exactly to wear. After all...it was the end of August and temps should have been in the 80's. However, this past summer did not see very warm temps and the nights were very cool. Northern Minnesota had night time temps down in the 30's several times in July and they saw 30's and 40's for nearly all of August. Anyway, I ended up actually wearing three layers on top along with arm warmers. Another issue we had out on the course was glasses fogging up.
Despite the weather there was a good turn out for the race and everyone seemed to be in pretty good spirits. No one it appeared was complaining about the weather at least not outwardly. It was pretty easy for Matt and I to decide on the doing the short course, which is fifteen miles. The long was 25, but considering that it is mostly single track and Matt was on time restrictions at home our options were somewhat limited. The short course turned out to be an awesome choice. It was just like they described it. A fast less technical, yet challenging course for the moderate to high skilled and well conditioned rider.
I had an absolute blast! I felt like I rode well, yet I never really had myself on the edge. I probably could have pushed a bit harder in some sections. My start, as always, was somewhat slow. I don't know what it is but I tend to be a slow starter and in a race that is a lot of single-track this can be not a very good thing. I was pleased with my performance on the single-track sections especially since I really have not ridden much of it all year. Primarily double track, forest roads, fire and ATV trails. All these along with the occasional horse trail thrown in.
Grasshopper would end up finishing in the top twenty at around 1hr. 5 min. I came in further back at 1 hr. 17 minutes and was very pleased with the exception of being beat at the line by a cute little 15 year old blonde. She came out of nowhere with about two miles to go and got a gap on me right away. All I saw was the blonde pony tail and a pair of very fast legs. I tried like hell to catch her and thought I finally did on the last steep climb, but unfortunately she surprised me and climbed like a billy goat. I thought I could catch her in the finishing straight, but she beat me by three seconds. The pain and humility of age! I congratulated her with a smile, but at the same time was thinking..."I can't believe she beat me. Fifteen years old!" Our Amigo Kenny suffered this same fate over the course of an entire summer about five or six years ago. In several races he was beat out by the same girl, fortunately she would turn out to be an elite racer. I hope this youngster that beat me will also turn out to be an elite racer. That may ease some of the humility, at least a little bit.
On our way home we damn near lost both of our bikes a couple of times. Matt was having some serious bike rack issues and we would end up having to stop and readjust and align the entire rack. All turned out well and our bikes did not fly.
This race is definitely on the calendar for next year. It's just too much fun to pass up. Now, the focus in on Chequamegon and the sufferfest this forty miles of hills can be. I feel like my fitness level has already peaked and that occurred at Ore to Shore. Now it's just a matter of trying to continue to get some quality miles in. My endurance is pretty good, but I want to continue to work on hills. Of course it comes at the worst possible time of the year for me...the beginning of the school year when we are putting in 12 hour days and experiencing all the stress that comes with getting the year off to a good start for students. So, I know that it will hard to get the quality rides during the week. I have to try to make this weekend and the next really count. In the meantime I will dream and have nightmares of those last eight miles of hell that take you into the finish line at the Cable, WI ski resort.