The start of 2017 race season was a plan to get out of my comfort zone with the intent to set myself up for training for RAAM, the coast-to-coast bicycling race from California to Maryland (but more on that later).
I started off the year with Hyner Park Trail Run in PA. I ran it with my oldest daughter Melissa who was gracious enough to stay with me. The course featured an extremely difficult combination of three big climbs. The total distance was 25k with 4,226 elevation gain. What a riot, and great to be with my daughter for the event.
The next event was the National 24 Hour Challenge in Middleville, MI. As the name implies, you have 24 hours to ride as many miles as you can in a 24-hour period. Making the race was even more difficult this year, a lightning storm forced the race director to close the course down from midnight until 3:30 am. It was a challenge to get going again after you were forced to stop, especially after riding for that long. I rode it like I was racing RAAM, trying to stay focused. In the end, I finished 1st in my age group 3rd overall with a total of 339 miles (even with the 3 1/2 hour break from riding)!
After that came Muncie 70.3 Ironman triathlon, I have not done one of these in quite a few years, and it’s strange to say this is a “short” race for me. Most of my training has been in the ultra-distance world. It was a great venue, but I seriously got my butt kicked. Still managed to finish 4th in my age group, but this engine is used to running for longer distances and the shorter course really didn’t play to my strengths (but still good training).
Next came The Marquette 100k Trail Run. This was amazing and one of the most beautiful and challenging trail runs I have ever completed. I was proud that I was able to just finish and 2nd overall female.
Lastly was the Wisconsin Ironman in Madison, WI. Again a great venue with great spectator involvement and a beautiful/challenging course. I finished 2nd in my age group and very happy with my results on this challenging and hilly course.
Now that my official racing for the year is over, training dials in for RAAM (Race Across America) coming up June 2018. This is a 3,000-mile bicycle race from Oceanside CA. to Annapolis MD. I’ll again (yes, I’ve done this a few times now) race in the solo women category and will have 12 days to complete the entire course or be disqualified.
I was joined by fellow WSI Cycling racer, Laura Stuchell, for the first Lord Of The Springs with me yesterday. It’s a great new race, but they do have a couple bugs to work out for next year (including a big ‘ole bottleneck at the start). But other than that, it was a great mix of Barry Roubaix gravel road racing and Yankee Springs singletrack. I raced fast but not aggressive, as they really promoted this race for new racers as well.
I got in line a little late…
The race started at 10:00 am, so I was surprised to see the folks that wanted to do well lined up before 9 o’clock! Of course, I didn’t get in line until 9:45. That being said, I got stuck in a bottleneck unlike any other I’ve been in before. Likely caused me several minutes off my time as the congestion cleared out, but overall I thought this was a great race that has a future.
I finished 7th in the single speed class with a time of 1 hour 53 minutes for 26 miles.
At the starting line
Julie icing her wounds.
See you at the Lowell 50 in October!
The Lord of the Springs Trail/Gravel bike race was a nice race for its first year. As with most first-year races, there are some areas for improvement such as a wave start rather than mass start and/or a longer thin out loop stand out as two changes that I hope they make for next year. The bottleneck going into the trail was a real bummer…. A lot of hurry up and wait.
What I really liked about this race was the challenge of going from trail to gravel and back to trail. I’m very new to trail riding (actually new to gravel racing too!) but like the change of focus this race required in going from trail to gravel and back to trail.
The conditions were great; a little warm but plenty dry. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect on this ride but ended up 5th out of 10 in my age group; which I’m happy with for my first Yankee Trail ride/race. My favorite part of the race was the Barry gravel and hills (the support/traffic control was good)… I’d say my least favorite was the Bassett Lake Rd sand pit hill, but it was a challenge that brought a new dimension to the race for me.
I’ll definitely keep this one on my to-do list for 2018! Next up Lowell and Iceman!!!
I decided that the BTR Criterium in Kalamazoo was going to be my first ever bike race. It was an absolutely amazing experience! For being relatively new to cycling I hadn’t put much thought into bike racing until Maggie (my very supportive girlfriend) encouraged me to try bike racing.
I was somewhat nervous going into the race, but overall I was very excited. Scott Bridges was really generous in offering tips and tricks to doing well in my first bike race. He told me to try and stay at the front and see if I had anything left for the sprint. I did stay mostly in the front for most of the race until the bell lap came around. Unfortunately, I made a rookie mistake and found myself in the lead position a little too early. Overall, it was a great experience, and bike racing is definitely something I will continue to pursue.