Race Report: Boggs 8-Hour Mountain Bike Race

There is just something about Bike Monkey's annual 8-hour romp through the Boggs Demonstration Forest up north of Calistoga, CA that I love. The singletrack there is so much fun and the trails are very well maintained. The Bike Monkey crew does a fantastic job of organizing the event, and for some reason, I keep signing up for this 8 hours of suffering on a mountain bike. This was my 3rd Boggs, and oh boy, it was completely different than my two previous experiences! Before I get into the details, I have a few obligatory shout-outs. First off I have to thank Bike Station Aptos. JT and Courtney have been incredibly supportive, and mechanic Trey worked some serious magic to get my bike back up and running after last weekend's rather destructive wet sand race. The new brake pads (there was no more "pad" left on my brakes after last week...just metal on metal!) and new drive train worked great. Thanks guys! I also have to thank Honey Stinger for fueling me through the race. I had a regimen of gels (gold, strawberry, and banana flavors), cherry blossom organic energy chews, and a peanut butter-honey energy bar that got me through the day. Finally, and most importantly, huge thanks to Terry. He's getting pretty good at supporting me during these endurance races. He set up a little feed area for me with bottles laid out and food at the ready. Most laps he was there to make me eat or give me what I needed, some laps he was off playing with Massey, but he prepped the everything before he left. I always had what I needed when I needed it. And he took all the photos you see here. He's awesome!

Now, as for the race. I was excited to arrive at the venue to some sunshine and relatively mild temperatures for 7 am. After a week of warm temps, I assumed the trails had dried out pretty well. It was going to be a great day! But during the pre-race announcements, we got the bad news. We've had a pretty soggy few weeks here in California, and when more than 2" of rain has fallen within 2 weeks, all events at Boggs are supposed to be cancelled. Luckily the race organizers and forest guys got together and we still got to race--but instead of an awesome 8 or 9 mi singletrack loop o' fun, the course was a 5-mi loop entirely on fire roads. And since the conditions were a little icky and the course was so short, the race was shortened to 7 hours. I figured the fire roads would be relatively dry, so no big deal, right? I would quickly learn otherwise!

I lined up for the mass start alongside about 600 riders. I had no idea who I was racing against...solo racers were mixed in with the 2-person and 4-person relay teams, and race numbers didn't correlate to category. I wasn't too concerned about a result as I wasn't expecting to podium in the women's expert division. I was using the race more as training for Leadville anyway (and the fire road change was actually more realistic training for that event).

So off we went, a good steady climb for the start, then a crazy fast descent. I have a mild fear of fire road descending after crashing really hard when I was 10-years-old out in Crested Butte, CO on some lose gravel at the bottom of a hill. I don't like cornering on gravel while going 30 mph. Fortunately I had 7 hours to get over that fear. Everything was great until we got to the first left turn and then I saw it...MUD. Sloppy, slippery mud that went on for about 1/4 mile. Then another section with a big puddle. Then more puddles. Then little mini-streams. There was no way around the muck, only through it. I vividly remembered thinking "Two weeks of this in a row? Are you kidding me??" as I hit one puddle and thick muddy water splattered all the way up my shin. I mud-sprayed and everything from the waist down was pretty well soaked 1/2 way through the first lap. Ugh. But what can you do? So, I pedaled on, knowing it would be a long day. At least it was nice out and hell, I was riding my mountain really wasn't so bad.

It took me about 2 laps to get settled as my legs felt a little heavy at the start, then the next 4 or 5 laps went by fairly easily. The conditions weren't great, but they weren't horrible, and the short laps were mentally very easy to tackle. My goal at the beginning of the day was to get 60 mi in, so I had to do 12 laps. Around the 9th lap I was starting to feel it a bit. Sections of the course were starting to dry up, which meant all those soft spots that easily rutted in the morning were now hard, dry ruts. I felt like I was taking a beating. My bike was getting heavier from the mud. My feet were soaked. This photo was around lap 10 I can't tell where my knee warmers end and my skin starts!

Fortunately I finally started to see some familiar faces around the course at this point. My BSA teammate Malia was there racing on a 2-person women's team (and they won!!), our good friends Heather and Justin were there camping (they smartly decided to go play on the singletrack rather than deal with the fire road muck), and I could hear a few voices cheering for me as I rolled through the staging area each time. I pushed out my 12th lap and found Terry...who of course, as he does every single year at Boggs, told me to do one more lap. I was actually feeling *relatively* good, so I headed out for one more...lucky 13...and was done. I was really happy with my effort and how I felt throughout the day. And I was so happy to be done. I technically still had time for 1 more lap, but at that point my hands were sore, my legs were tired, and my girly parts weren't really excited about sitting on the saddle anymore. So I called it a day.

Back at the car we took stock of the mess. I have no idea how I was seeing the trail through those glasses, and I'm so glad I didn't wear my new SIDIs. I had mud was in my hair, in my ears, in my teeth, everywhere.

I slowly got out of all my gross clothing and tried to clean up as best I could. Then it was off to get beer and a burrito! I was fairly certain that I hadn't placed, but was curious to see the results before we headed home. They said they would post them shortly, so we waited. And waited. And waited. At least we had the dog to play with while we waited. She even got her first taste of beer.

Finally the results were posted...but only the top 3 in each category. Since we'd waited that long, I at least wanted to see which teams the top ladies were racing for to see if I could remember them blowing by me out on the course. And then to my surprise, there was my name! In second place! Holy crap! So we had to wait a little longer for the podium. And classy me, I only have one jersey for my new team, so there I was, on the podium, in my muddy, stinky jersey. Oh well. Glad we stuck around.

Of course, after all that fun, there's always the clean up. Here's the aftermath of 6:45 minutes and 65 miles in the mud. It all got the hose.

No racing next weekend. Next up will be the Sea Otter XC race followed by the Santa Cruz crit the same weekend. Its gonna be fun!