Pop quiz, hotshot (ICCP "9" hour race report)

On the podium with my friends Kate and Judy, who actually earned their trophies
So let's get this out of the way early: I took third place in the women's solo 9 hour division of the Indian Camp Creek mountain bike race this weekend, and it was pretty embarrassing.  Not because I came in third, because both of those ladies are worlds better on a bike than me; not even because I came in third out of three, because a big part of winning sometimes is just showing up and being willing to do something that other people aren't.

No, it was embarrassing because this race was more of a DNF for me than any other race I've done, saved only by the fact that you couldn't DNF this division.  I like to think of myself as, if not always mentally tough, at least foolishly stubborn, and this race disproved that.  Plenty of bad decision led to my lousy showing, though, so in lieu of a full-fledged race report, I'll just test you to see if you'd do any better.

1. There's an upcoming mountain bike race. How do you train for it?

a) Rest on the 200 mile gravel ride you did three weeks ago.
b) Ride 5 miles of singletrack with your ten year old.
c) Occasionally consider taking your mountain bike out on the trails.
d) Actually log some quality miles.

Answer (if you're me): a, b, and c.  Since Dirty Kanza, I've had one double-digit bike ride and a few short rides with Jacob.  I wanted to get out on the trails, but between weather and having Jacob home with me and kind of being a wimp about going out mountain biking alone, I never really managed to.  I definitely hoped that my DK training would at least leave me with some decent bike endurance.

2. The mountain bike race has three solo options (3/6/9 hour) as well as a team format.  You haven't really ridden your mountain bike on singletrack since April. What do you do?

a) 3 hour solo. That'll be plenty.
b) Find some sucker and form a team. Alternating laps might help make up for your lack of fitness.
c) Stay home and nap.
d) 9 hour solo!

Answer: d. I knew it would suck.  I expected to enjoy it for about 5 hours and suffer for the next 4.  Even so, I typically like the longer races and the fact that the last few hours feature few passes because so many fewer riders are left on the trails.  I went into the race looking at it as a good chance for me to build confidence by riding the same loop over and over again.

3. The saddle on your mountain bike has caused serious chafing and discomfort every time you've ridden on it. What do you do?

a) Replace it with the much better saddle on your old mountain bike.
b) Adjust the position in the hopes that it'll help.
c) Stay home and nap.
d) Make no changes, assuming that this time it'll magically be comfortable.

Answer: d. I'm so stupid...why would I not change the saddle??

4. After an unseasonably cool beginning to summer, the heat has kicked in.  What do you do to cope?

a) Stuff your sports bra with ice.
b) Fill your camelbak with ice.
c) Go home and nap in the air conditioning.
d) Realize that everybody else is dealing with the same heat and suck it up.

Answer: a, b, d.  Oh that ice felt so good, but I only did that after the second loop. Would have been much smarter to keep doing it or to have made some ice-filled socks to put in the back of my jersey like the Cyclery team.  The heat was no fun, especially during the exposed sections of the course, but the shaded sections were better and at least on a bike you make your own breeze.  

5. Midway through your third lap your chafing reaches a new level of discomfort.  What now?

a) Try adjusting the saddle. Hey, better late than never!
b) Call your husband and ask him to bring the good saddle. It's only a 70-minute drive.
c) HTFU. It's just skin.  Well, it was; now it's more like raw hamburger.
d) Stay off the saddle as much as possible and then let your imaginary teammate take the next lap while you move your car to a closer spot, walk around, and talk about how stupid you were to sign up for a 9 hour race.

Coming in from my third lap and only smiling for the camera. Thanks to Jim and Michelle for coming out to spectate! Photo credit: Jim Woodson.
Answer: d.  In all seriousness, I was more uncomfortable 16 miles into Indian Camp Creek than I was 150 miles into Dirty Kanza.  In my last-minute arrival at the race I'd left my tube of Chamois Butt'r in my car (luckily I had one "single serving" pack in my bag, so after my third lap I grabbed a margarita out of my cooler and walked the quarter mile or so to my car to get the chamois cream. Then, seeing a closer spot, I moved my car and spent the next 40 minutes or so drinking and talking to people.  I got a lot of "What race did you do?", to which I answered, "Oh, I'm still racing, can't you tell?"  I also noted that, while I'd expected to have a rough time towards the end of the 9 hours, this was more like 2 hours of fun and 7 hours of regret, a satisfaction ratio similar to that of my first marriage.

6. You've been sitting around the race HQ for over an hour. Your nine hour race still has about 5 hours left. What do you do?

a) Take this one lap at a time.
b) Make yourself ride at least one more lap, then you can quit.
c) Give away your bike. Mountain biking is stupid anyway.
d) Go home and take a nap.

Answer: b. It may have been slightly (a) when I started riding, but it quickly became (b). My saddle was killing me, and the way I had to sit on it made my back hurt, too.  Every downhill section, when I could get off my saddle, I'd reconsider quitting ("This is fun! I can do this more!!")...until I had to sit down again.

7. You're on your fourth lap and it feels like your chamois has been replaced by sandpaper. What do you do?

a) Spend 8 miles contemplating how long it'll be before your husband can touch you below the waist.
b) Try adjusting the saddle now. You know that whole "definition of insanity" thing?
c) Stop halfway through and hang out with the volunteers.
d) Cut the lap short and ride back to the start/finish on the road.

Answer: a and c. I considered d more than once, but it wouldn't have saved me all that much riding and would have been way less fun and pretty darn lame.  I did stop for a nice long time at the volunteer table and complain about my saddle, prompting Cory to observe, "The nose is too high, and you need some ventilation." Ventilation wasn't going to happen with that saddle, but it's too bad you can't adjust the saddle angle...oh wait, you can.  Well, too bad I didn't have the right tool in my pack to make the adjustment...oh wait, I did.  Sigh. I think at that point I figured the damage was done and just wanted to get back to the start/finish and off my bike.

8.  You rode two good laps followed by two pretty miserable ones, and the 6 hour race isn't even over yet. What do you do?

a) Alternate long breaks with painful loops.
b) Accept that this just wasn't your day and go home.
c) Keep going...you rode 19 hours in Kansas, you can ride 9 here!
d) Spend the next few hours sitting in the shade, talking with friends, and contemplating going back out.

Answer: d. What I should have done was a and c, but maybe this was just God's way of telling me, "Hey dummy, a 9 hour mountain bike race is a pretty lousy taper for next weekend's 30 hour adventure race...oh, and maybe switch saddles!"  I did thoroughly enjoy hanging out with the Momentum crew, who were nice enough to take me in when I showed up at the race start feeling like a little lost lamb with no idea where to set up (I'm used to finding Chuck and Lori's tent, but they weren't there).

9. Your "fun training ride" turned out to be pretty disappointing. What's the consolation?

a) All that misery was probably enough to make sure that you finally change out saddles before next weekend's Stubborn Mule adventure race.
b) You still rode 32 mile of singletrack, and you felt more confident and comfortable than ever before.
c) Hey, no crashes!
d) You spent an afternoon hanging out with a really nice, fun group of people.

Answer: E, all of the above. Sorry, that was a trick question. Indian Camp Creek is rated beginner/intermediate, which doesn't mean I can't still struggle there.  I crashed pretty hard (twice) during my last outing there. This year I had no crashes, and I only had to put a foot down once on something that made me nervous because a couple of people were stopped there. The next time I passed that spot, I'd ridden over it before I even realized it was the "scary" spot. Overall, I felt much more comfortable and confident on the singletrack than ever before. That's awesome, and it's also one of the most disappointing things about the day: I was riding better than I have in the past and was derailed by dumb mistakes.  But hey, I seem to learn best by learning the hard way, so those lessons should be well cemented now.

Extra credit: Name the movie my title references.


  1. Oh my gosh. You totally shot yourself in the foot, and still came home with a trophy! So I think you DID earn that sucker, you went through enough to get it! Good for you and congratulations. Now go change out your saddle before you forget and end up at Stubborn Mule in misery!

  2. I remember back to a chafing incident that was pretty terrible and could have been fixed or at the very least alleviated at pretty much any point in the race yet I just kept on chafing like an idiot. Sometimes racing makes you stupid.

  3. I didn't quite get to hamburger stage but I'm a little red around the area adjacent to my lady parts. I know some butter would have made my miles this weekend much better. Darn it. Yeah on the hardware. Way to gut it out for at least part of the 9 hours.

  4. I still enjoy watching the first Speed movie: "What do you do? What do you do?"
    Bummer about difficulties you encountered, but a) at least you tried and b) you knew when to stop. :)

  5. I don't know so much about Radha and Krishna, and I'm not sure how much they knew about monkey butt, but at least you get the trophy for best sense of humor about what sounds like a sufferfest! If they awarded the prize purse to the one who suffers the most, you probably would've taken it home. Keep on plugging away...and adjust that seat!

    1. Darn spammers, I guess that one slipped through the filter. Thanks! If you can't laugh about the stupidity you being on yourself, you're going go miss out on a lot of opportunities to laugh.

  6. OKay I laughed out loud at 7a. Although you and Jeff may not have found it funny! You are still the most hard core racer I know! I think you earned it for sure.

  7. So a beer during the last race and a margarita during this one? Sounds like a trend.

    Change that saddle so 7a is no longer an issue. You do want continued spousal support for your endeavors, correct? :-)

  8. Ouch! Congrats on the trophy!

  9. Loved the pop-quiz format! :) This proves you really are a teacher..
    Well, missy, I hope you have a new saddle for the next race. I would die if I had any butt chafing. It does NOT sound fun. Way to haul home the trophy ;D maybe its more special because of how hard worked against it.


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