2011 Beti Bike Bash

For my first big mountain bike race as a Pro, I headed up north to Bear Creek Lake Park for the 2011 Beti Bike Bash, presented Stan's NoTubes and hosted by the Yeti Beti Cycling Team. There were over 200 women competing in event across all classes - Cat 3, Cat 2, Cat 1, Pro and Juniors. By far, the Cat 3 race had the largest numbers and there were plenty of smiles as the racers completed their two laps. A large and very talented Pro field assembled for the four lap, 16 mile race, drawn both by the prize purse provided by Stan's NoTubes and the opportunity to compete in a Women's only event. The smooth single track course lead to some fierce competition among the top pros. Georgia Gould held off Katie Compton 52:32 to 53:02, with Erin Huck taking third in 55:25, Kelly Boniface fourth in 57:54 and Krista Park rounding out the podium in 58:14. I finished in 11th, one place out of the money in 1:02:44. It was quite the introduction to pro mountain bike racing, but a fun event. The Yeti Beti team did a great job with the race and there were plenty of women being introduced to how much fun mountain biking can be with a race number on.

I watched the start of the Cat 3 women's race and the first few women coming through on their lap. Then time to warm up. I knew this would be a fast and furious race with the nature of the course and the racers showing up. Getting in a good warm up so I was ready to ride would be important. I did an easy spin, some sprints and accelerations, then headed for the starting line. The Pro race was scheduled to start at 10:15 and we all started gathering around 10:00. Then unfortunate news - one of the beginner women had crashed and our start time would be delayed. But we couldn't leave the starting area because it wasn't clear how long the delay would be. So we all stood around under the cloudless sky, talking. Thankfully, the woman who'd crashed wasn't badly hurt and they got her loaded into the ambulance pretty quickly. Then it was go time.

And I was redlined from the gun. I was hoping to get into the top third at the start, but found myself second to last when we hit the single track. And it was all I could do to hold onto the wheels of the women in front of me! While the course was not really technical - it was 90% single track, with about a third of that as two trails running side by side. There were two longer single track climbs and one really steep road climb right at the end. The trail was smooth, hard packed in most places, with some tight corners, fast down hills and sweeping turns. There really wasn't anywhere to recover as all the descents were followed by steady false flats. I'd pre-riden the course and had an idea as to how fast I would be riding. That estimate was blown out the window pretty quick! At the first u-turn, I was still in second to last. I could see the line of women in front and they just seemed to be riding away from me. Up and down the first hill, through the tight turns near Morrison road, up the second hill. I was climbing a little faster then the two in front of me, but they were pulling away on the flats. Finishing my first lap and I was deep in the pain cave - aware of people around me but focused on the thin ribbon of single track underneath my tires. The first hill seemed twice as long on that second lap, and I was really suffering. Halfway through that second lap, Sarka caught and passed me. Down to dead last. Not where I wanted to be. I got right on her wheel on the second climb, held on through the rough descent on the back side, then made the pass back to second to last just before the second u-turn on the course. I pressed the advantage on the road climb and managed to pull away from Sarka. I had a good gap by the time I started the long climb and continued to push. I was starting to bring back the two women right in front of me.

On that third lap, I managed to close the gap down, working the climbs and using the whole trail on the descents. I kept a steady cadence and hard tempo - riding my own race, but riding as hard as I could. Just after the start of the final lap, I passed one woman. A smooth pass and hard acceleration so she didn't get back on my wheel. Keeping up the effort and I bridged up to the other woman. My first attempt to pass wasn't smart and she was right on my wheel. Just after the u-turn, she passed me back. This time, I tucked in behind, recovering a little. I would make my move on the first climb of the lap. And that's exactly what I did. When we hit the climb, I accelerated and passed her as fast as I could. I wanted to make sure that she wouldn't be able to follow me up the hill. I kept the hammer down till the top of the hill. My strategy worked - I pulled away and got a sustainable gap. Up the last single track hill, down the back side and up the steep road climb. The race was only an hour, but I was beyond toasted when I rolled through the finish line. I'd worked hard for my final place and was satisfied with my race. It's that kind of short, fast and bloody hard racing that will make me stronger on the mountain bike.

Nick met me at the finish with some water - I'd drained my camelbak during the race. Then time for an easy spin to cool down. One of our friends was racing in the Cat 2 event, so Nick was heading back to his corner to continue heckling the racers. I met him over there after my cool down, but wasn't much help with the heckling!

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