Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I love being a LumberJack! (er, a LumberJill?)

Photo credit: Jack Kunnen
Finally, my Lumberjack 100 race report! I feel like I’m still grinning ear to ear after this race! There’s nothing like racing in Michigan and seeing all of my friends out on the trails. There’s nothing like racing on Michigan trails, period! They’re flowy with punchy climbs and fun little momentum spots that shoot you up the next hill. Plus, I feel like I’ve done enough races by now to conclude that I love lap races. I love coming up against the same features over and over; it makes it feel like practice to me and I love gauging how I improve with each lap. When you totally botch a climb or a downhill section, you have the opportunity to go back to it to try it again. When a hill sucks bad, you know exactly how many sucky hills are ahead of you (and if there are no more sucky hills ahead of you!) You also learn where all of the twisty spots are at so you can pedal, pedal, pedal on the fast parts of the trail and strategically take some drinks on the fire roads; try to pass people before it gets to a spot where they might slow down; and you can leave extra hydration packs and snacks at your own tent to grab quickly between laps, and you feel refreshed and recharged finishing a lap and heading out for another.  

Packing up the PIZZAAA mobile with Danielle Musto and Scott Spoo
Lucky for me, the Lumberjack 100 was 3 laps of 33ish miles. This year, the Lumberjack 100 course went the opposite way than it did last year. I thought last year had a lot of climbing… turns out last year was easier! The course had about 9,000 feet of climbing. Which wasn’t actually that bad considering the elevation from the other races that I’ve done this season! Another bonus from the Lumberjack 100 this year? There were some awesome people hanging out at the GRBC tent during the race! I made new friends from folks helping me to snag my snacks, including professional mountain bike racer Sonya Looney! Everyone was super encouraging during my pit stops and it made me want to get out there and to do a good job for them! Plus, seeing so many friends from near and far made me want to keep going: it was so much fun! The volunteers, the custom Lumberjack swag, everything about it... I absolutely love this race!

Fooling around with Danielle and Jeff Jacobi before race day.
Photo: Jack Kunnen
I think the best part of the whole race was seeing so many women out there racing! There were 36 women pre-registered for the Lumberjack 100, with 5 women pre-registered for racing it single speed. Huge, huge kudos to all of the women who were out there! Seeing so many women on the start list was awesome and made me really proud to be racing alongside everyone so close to home! It was amazing to stand on the podium with such fun women. PLUS huge kudos to the women who tackled that course on a single speed! I shift so often that sometimes I’ll catch myself down-shifting while pushing my bike up a hill. Doing 100 miles on a single speed is something that makes my knee shiver in fear. You women are strong and bad ass, no matter how long it took you to complete the course or how fast you were able to do it. Big thanks to Sonya for having such a positive, encouraging attitude at the race, and for being so helpful, despite having her injured wrist. It was really inspiring to talk to her after the race and to hear her cheering for me when I came through between laps. She also had a lot of great advice after the race to help me in future races. I cannot wait to try those tips out!

These women are incredible and I am so lucky to stand with them!
Sidenote: If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to recently, I’ve been pretty busy with helping to organize Skirts in the Dirt. Sign up and come out to play with us! Skirts in the Dirt is a women’s only mountain bike race, that I am so excited for this year – especially after seeing so many awesome women at this race!

Photo: Patrick Helsel
So last year during the Lumberjack, I found myself having to go pee really badly.  I always do endurance races in shorts despite thinking bibs are more comfortable because they call for quicker bathroom stops. Last year I dropped my shorts on the side of the trail and tried to force out the quickest pee – I took too long and the woman behind me caught me and passed me. I pulled up my shorts, hopped on my mountain bike, and tried to catch her. I was 2 minutes shy of 3rd place last year… I know my bathroom break didn’t take me 2 whole minutes and that I never caught her because she was stronger than me… but that was my scapegoat. That was where I went wrong, even if it really wasn’t. This year? I was going to try my damnedest to not stop for a bathroom break. Then I had to go to the bathroom before I was even finished with lap two… Dang it! So here’s my confession. Here’s my embarrassing Lumberjack 100 race secret. Here’s what I’m a little bit ashamed of and what I’ve finally stooped to the level of doing during a race.

What Rob didn't know... is that I had peed my pants.
I peed on the fire road. While riding my bike. I mean, I wasn’t technically riding my bike, I was more so coasting and standing up on the pedals. But I was clipped in on the pedals and I was cruising downhill pretty good. I just peed a little, because I didn’t want to have any pee running down my leg. I peed a little the next time I was on a fire road. A little more again on the next fire road. I wound up finishing the Lumberjack 100 in 3rd place with a time of 8 hours and 14 minutes, a whole half hour faster than my time last year – with more climbing! I found out in the end that fourth place was nearly 15 minutes behind me…. Way more than enough time to go to the bathroom like a normal person. As soon as I felt like I had to go, I just kept thinking, “NOT AGAIN!” I had heard that triathletes peed themselves, so I did it. I’m not sure if it’s for me, and it’s not a habit I am going to practice regularly… but I did a little research after the Lumberjack 100 to see what other female mountain bikers do while racing…

One woman on a forum said that she holds it. She said races never take more than 3-4 hours. Nope, that’s not going to work.

There were a lot of jokes about using diapers or depends.

Even more jokes referencing men and the tools that they are, erm, equipped to urinate with.

One article suggested shouting to the people you’re riding with that you have to go in hopes that they’ll stop with you… yeah, right.

What it kept coming down to as a last resort… go in your shorts. But most of the articles were written for men. “A hint is to put your weight on one foot, unclip your other foot, and bend the knee of your unclipped leg so that the flow of liquid will spill off your knee instead of running down into your shoe.”

After the Lumberjack 100, while making fun of myself to some other fellow female racers, I heard of a technique where you could pull aside the leg of your cycling shorts and do the quick pee standing up on the side of the trail. That’s a cool technique, no one will see your buns, but you still have to get off of your bike. So it looks like from here on out, when I’m in a big race where I think it’ll matter, I guess I’m going to pee in my shorts – or bibs. The bright side of this predicament is that at least I can start doing endurance races in bibs again. The downside?  I still feel ashamed. Any ladies out there have some good advice for how you pee during a race? I will gladly take any and all suggestions!

The good news is that this weekend is the Tatanka 100 in South Dakota and that last year the winning female did it in just under 12 hours. SO by that math, I should have plenty of time to hone in on my “peeing while racing” skills. ;)