Double Race Report - MN Rusty Ride & Dirt Spanker

4:35 PM

Wow, I am behind this week, so double race report.  Here is the deal: when a chunk of your house’s main stack pipe falls off, you have to suspend all other activities and attend to it.  And if you don’t know what a stack pipe is, give thanks that you live a charmed life. 
Covered in iron dirt, blech!

The Minnesota Rusty Ride took place in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, which contain some of the best mountain bike trails in the region.  Cuyuna has everything from double track to flow, twisty single track to skinnies and rocks.  The landscape is amazing – you are in the middle of iron ore country – with blazing red rocks, beautiful green foliage, and deep blue lakes.

The Rusty Ride has a 25, 50 and 100 mile race – obviously, I picked the 25.  We started with the 50 milers (the 100s went off almost three hours earlier), and the first miles were chaotic as the trail narrowed into a small section of single track just over two miles in.  The Spouse didn’t want to race, but I talked him into going along with me and it was nice to have him along in the crowd. 

After initial single track section, we hit a long section of hilly double track where I worked on my passing.  The Spouse, who regularly races in traffic, was an expert at jumping out and squeezing through gaps while I lagged behind watching spaces quickly close down.  As the miles stretched out I was able to find my way through weeds and utilize the hills for mini-attacks.

The last 10 miles were in the awesome Cuyuna single track, with punchy climbs and screaming downs.  My favorite moment: we had just started a climb when a rider coming down the trail near us yelled, “It’s worth it!”  And it was!  My second favorite moment was when I offered to let the guy behind me get ahead and he said, “No, you guys are much better on the down hills that I am.”  Sweet!

In all the commotion I didn’t ever really know where I was in the field, so it was a nice surprise to reach the finish and discover I won the overall for women…pretty cool!

Last year after riding the Dirt Spanker for the first time at Mont du Lac I swore I would never do it again.  Sure, you get to ride some really awesome down hill trails with killer berms, but to get there you have to climb this killer hill that goes on, and on, and on.  In fact, they start you straight up that hill so you enter the single track delirious and seeing stars.

Clearly I forgot about this in the past year, because there I was on Sunday morning lining up for my last mountain biking race of the season.  Two minutes into the race I was cursing my forgetfulness, but by then I was committed. 

What can I say about Mont du Lac?  The hill sucks, every stretch of single track is bone-shaking bumpy because of all the exposed roots, and the down hill section is one of the best runs in the state.  First and second place crushed me up the first hill, so I spent most of the race in my own little bubble.  Maybe too much in a bubble, as a young-un caught me in the last section before the finish.  Fourth overall, second in my age group.

The series is over, and it looks like I may have wrapped up second place overall (like last year, and second to the same racer).  I’ve got some thinking to do over the winter, as I do actually have enough points to upgrade to “expert” for next year…if I could only wrap my head around the word “expert.”

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