Friday, April 23, 2010

"my life has forever been changed!"

Team Velo Girls member, Kerri, shares her life-changing experience at the BOGGS V 8 hour mountain bike race on April 3rd:


The quick short summary of Boggs is that we camped, we froze, we got snowed on, we rode some awesome single track, we cheered each other on, we finished strong!

Six of us went up to Boggs Mountain State forest near Cobb, California. I bet you don’t know where Cobb, Ca is now do you? It is about 3 hours from here, north of Calistoga. 2 teams of two, Carolyn and Gnat along with Cristina and Amy conquered the the course in a relay fashion. Lorri and I attempted the 8hr solo event.

There were many racers on the course at all times making it intimidating for me. The race started off as a mass start (600 registrations sold but many of those are teams therefore not all out on the course at once). The race was a circuit of approximately 9 mile laps. Our Velo Girls teams alternated doing one lap at a time. The challenge of this was that in between laps it was easy to get quite cold, the starting temperature of the day was 29 degrees. The saddles on our bikes were frosted over and my camelback tubing was frozen. I enjoyed heating up water to thaw my camelback before the race, I knew at this time it was going to be a fun race.

My goal was to complete 5 laps of the course and I plugged away one lap at a time. The first 3 laps were challenging for me as I felt that I was being pushed off the course for being too slow. On two occasions people tried to pass me during inopportune times therefore bumping us both off our bikes (one a tight switch back, the other in a rocky narrow turn). It really frustrated me. Also during the first lap as I approached a turn on a newly added section to the course (therefore I had not pre-rode it) there was a guy heckling at me yelling “let off the brakes girl, the bike’s meant to go forward, etc.” He had a group of 20 plus people roaring in laughter at me. I was literally humiliated. I was even shaking in the knees despite the fact I knew I shouldn’t let any idiot get under my skin.

I was left feeling frustrated, like I didn’t belong out there and ultimately feeling like “what am I doing, I just love to ride my bike, this isn’t what I signed up for.” As I approached the end of lap 3 I had settled in and decided to forget the race. I am not a quitter and I will finish my goal of 5 laps. I am going to forget about the other people out here and enjoy my “leisurely Saturday ride.” I then approached lap 4 and 5 in a relaxed approach, pulled over to let people pass so I could save my sanity.

During lap 5 I was encouraged by my self talk of “yep, last time I’ll see this on my bike” as I went through each section of the course. At a moment I was deep in on the course, all by myself, snow started to fall on me and I LAUGHED and SMILED to myself. Character building. I really had a blast at this time, my skills improved throughout the day, I was feeling very comfortable on my bike and simply amazed at how my skills were coming along. I really settled into riding the fast swoopy sections of the course, loving the feel of my bike. I rode every section of the course and for the girls who raced, they will attest that there were some tricky sections.

At last I approached the final fire road climb out, the race was over from here... I did it... 5 laps.

As I wheeled into the finish line I was greeted by the cheering of my teammates, Gnat, Carolyn, Cristina and Amy but wait what was Lorri doing, motioning me to keep going and yelling “you’re in 2nd place, you can’t stop now, you gotta do one more lap.” Umm, what??? But... I was done... my whole mental game was to be done now?! But wait, 2nd place... really... I’m not gonna give that up without a fight. So Lorri nicely opened a cadbury easter egg for me, shoved it in my mouth... and away I went... for lap #6... with a smile still on my face.

Once again, just me and my bike, and the official “last lap.” My legs were starting to feel tired but I didn’t care, I was newly energized. During this lap people started talking a lot, the men were asking “are you doing this solo? Wow, 6th lap, this only lap 3 for me.” Another woman, after descending behind me on a fast technical section, complimented me on my bike handling skills. Several encouraging conversations occurred on this lap, what a change from the start. Counting down the miles, for certain this time, I crossed the finish line.

8 1/2 hours on my bike, ~50 miles, 8000ft of climbing and still in 2nd place! I was greeted by my WONDERFUL teammates cheering me on and it felt so amazing! I can’t say enough how much I appreciate our team, what a great group of friends!!

The mental game of this race was absolutely crazy to me, I went from feeling discouraged, humiliated and frustrated to feeling proud and excited and that YES I did belong on that course! I had 8 hours of bonding with me and my bike and I really think I am a better rider because of it.

Mountain biking has been a very empowering thing for me! Since moving to California I must say the find for me has been discovering the dirt, my life has forever been changed!


1 comment:

Jessica said...

Hey Kerri,

Nice to "meet" my fellow 6-lapper in the Beginner category!!! Congratulations on a great race! It was my first 8-hour, too, and our experiences were surprisingly similar - I thought I was reading my own blog post! My friends plied me with Peeps, though, instead of Cadbury Eggs :-)

Are you doing Boggs next weekend? Hope to see you out there!