This past weekend my friend who let’s just say we need our own blog “Stuff Jeni talks Kim into doing”, Kim and I, did a mountain biking race at Folsom Lake. The races are a well known series put on by TBF Racing that take place throughout the year. Now I am an Enduro Racer and shuttle lover. This means I can climb but it is never timed or I ride in a vehicle to get to the top of the fun downhill. Well back in October I decided I should at least do one cross country type of mountain biking race to help my Enduro training. That is when I made Kim sign up as well. Because why suffer alone? Well fast forward through the holidays and Lasik Surgery. Of course I have complications which leads to this Christmas cookie not setting one foot on a bike. I tried to get a refund but it wasn’t worth it with the transfer fee.

Kim and I went for a long grueling ride the day before the race both wanting the other one to say, “Hey, how about we NOT embarrass ourselves tomorrow and sleep in?” Neither one of us did so there we were putting our name plates on our big bikes in a sea of sleek, light bikes and spandex the next morning. The term big bike means we have more suspension so more bounce and beefy tires. Nothing light or effortless going on. In addition we wear flat shoes. This means we do not clip into our pedals. Now if you are a cyclist, clips versus flats is right up there with the gun war. There are very strong opinions regarding racing in clips due to the belief it can make a rider pedal stronger and faster. Well a pro Downhill racer blew that theory out of the water when he won the Enduro World Series in flat pedals last year.

I can barely coordinate an aerobics move in the gym, there is no way I am securing my feet to a pedal and the only way out is to think fast enough to unsecure it when you need it. I like my face, thank you very much.

Anyway at the starting line, Kim and I sheepishly hung out in the back. While we were waiting a woman recognized me from MTB Experience. She found out I was in her age group and I am pretty sure I saw a light flick on. Like she was taking me down. I quickly told her, “This is all you today. We don’t know what we are doing out in here!” We started and she took off.

I was warned it was a bit of a cluster at the beginning. It reminded me of 2 triathlons I did were you are in a human blender of people swimming. Hence giving up triathlons because life’s too short for that kind of panic.

As soon as we hit the first hill I passed 3 girls. I was pretty shocked by this but kept on trekking. Then I caught quite a few people at the first rocky section. They were trying to go around. Well uphill be damned but I got the downhill stuff. I took the inside line and zoomed right past about 4 people. One was the woman from the starting line. She yelled out, “I knew you would catch me on the downhill!” I laughed and assured her she would catch me on the uphill.

The rest of the race was spent trying to navigate the bottlenecking on any technical section, all the kid carnage and passing other riders with finesse. I am not aggressive on the trail but I got someone on my tail who really wants to beat me so I had to pass. I tried being nice, “Hey. Hi. Um on your left?” “Oh okay never mind, how about on your right?” “Oh thank you so much! Have a great race!”

The kids clipping pedals on rocks and being clipped in was hard to see. Soooo many crashes. It seemed everyone was okay but there was going to be some serious bruising.

I came through and Ellen, the chaser, came not long after me. We had a great time letting each other know we used one another to have a great race. She is a power house and I admire all the long distance cycling she does. Poor Kim had to help a girl who crashed pretty badly. Then she dropped her chain so had to spend time getting it unstuck. She still pulled off 1st in her age group! It was only her but who cares- SHE SHOWED UP AND FINISHED!

Later when I checked the results, I realized I was the first female finisher. For some reason that meant more than just winning my age group. It meant this old mom passed all the fit girls and women out there from the back all the way to the front. This goes to show, it’s not always about fitness- I am very out of shape- it is about knowing how to ride your bike. I can navigate my bike and tougher terrain well. It makes me happy that I partnered with Paige Ramsey to add skill building clinics to Women’s MTB Experience, as this is truly the most important part of bringing the mountain biking experience to women. It makes a difference.

Flat pedals and cushy bikes for the win!