Sunday, October 23, 2011

Berryman Trail Epic 2011 Recap

The BTEpic is in it's 4th year if I remember correctly, but this is the first year I'd heard of it and when Big Pig Steven said that's what he wanted to do for his birthday, I said sure, but inside I was thinking, "Ridiculous. What are you thinking, Sydney? Are you insane?"  A 60 mile road, or even gravel, ride can be arduous enough, but 60 miles in the woods when you've not been training for endurance?! Seriously?! Then, I thought, "What better way to practice skills, get some miles and have some fun than a mtb race?" Let's go!

"Stroke six times and see what comes of it," Grindcore said -- for luck, you know.
When I registered, I noted a good sized women's field, but I really wasn't paying attention to names at the time so when I learned a bunch of Nebraskans had rolled up and that Roxy was rolling to the line next morning, I had a bit of mind shift. I think I mentioned something about her dropping me like a stone earlier in the season and that it still chaffed me -- or something along those lines. The net result was that instead of just chillin', I shifted into race mode. Of course, that still left me quite unprepared to meet Carey Lowery. I didn't recognize her on the start line, but at some point she complimented my leg strength and we traded names. When she said, "Carey," I asked if she was the one I was always seeing at the top of the results lists. Of course, that's exactly who it was and explained why she was so lean and seemed to float along the single-track.  The other major contender was Laura Cleary Scherff. I didn't know her name before the race, but I did notice a woman in a red kit with black tall socks making terribly good time and who was also strong up the climbs.

My race strategy was simple: kick it off strong in hopes of triggering the other women to burn some matches before they were planning on doing so. I also thought I could build up a lead to give myself time to settle into the single-track. I then intended to pace myself and make the best use possible of any sections allowing me to make good use of my power. As it happened, the BT has some seriously long climbs, flat flowy sections and a couple long stretches of roads.

Roxy, Carey and Laura soon caught me. I wasn't paying attention to Laura so much at that point, but was keenly concerned about Roxy and Carey. Fortunately, the bottleneck at the stream crossing slowed them down and I was able to jump ahead again on the road section to the next stretch of single-track.  At this point, the trail sections get fuzzy and all I really recall are instances. For example, seeing Laura ahead of me on a climb. Watching her and then passing, which is why her reappearance gave me quite a shock, but she wasn't far off my wheel and jumped ahead on a checkpoint. Maybe she'll visit this write-up and fill in my memory gaps. In any case, my attention was on Carey. I could tell she could drop me at will on the single-track and when she arrived at the bag drop checkpoint seconds after me, I went into full race-mode, quickly stuffing Gu in my pockets, ripping off arm and leg warmers and slamming some gatorade/heed mix.

I got a lead on her, but soon I heard a voice, "I'm going to pass you now, Sydney." And, she did. I felt a flush of frustration and tried to hold her wheel for a bit, but could tell I was rattled, and that I needed to keep my head together most importantly. I reminded myself that a crash would eat a lot more time than being slower and smoother. I also recalled that the climbs were long and more time could be gained there. I felt I was climbing stronger than the others and that I could make up time there and in the other parts of the course. Finally, if I had to be second, it wouldn't be bad to be 2nd to Carey.  My mind calmed and my body found its rhythm despite the occasional cramp up the inside of my right leg. Eventually, I saw Carey on some switchbacks ahead of me. I increased my pace and the gap narrowed. Finally, I pulled onto her wheel.

To my surprise, she said, "My legs are done. Go on and catch some guys."

Of course, my roadie self thought, "How dumb do you think I am? You really think I'm going to let you sit on MY wheel?" But, she sounded sincere and moved over, so I went ahead and came through. Then, I tried to push the pace a little in case she did get on my wheel. But, she didn't. As Steven said later, "Uh, if she said her legs were done, they were done. She's a mountain biker, not a roadie." Oh, OK. Is it really that simple?

I did pass some men and as I went by one said, "There's one more woman ahead of you." I didn't think he was right, but in case he was and in case Carey was feeling better, I kept my pace as high I could. Finally, and with gratitude, I came to the end of the singletrack and turned onto the finishing four miles of road. In my memory, there had seemed to be more downhill to it, but my legs begged to differ. Nonetheless, looking up the road I spied a red kit with black tall-socks and despite the distance, the rear view definitely appeared feminine.

I determined that I would simply attack roadie style regardless. So, I got up to speed, came up behind and then attacked as hard as my legs were able. I was only able to open up 26 seconds between that point and the finish. It was such an exciting race. Thanks ladies! Can't wait to see more of you on the trails next season!

View towards horse pasture from front deck of the lodge

Steven and I both had some work stuff to attend to before Friday's pre-ride

Stream near the cabins
"I like the idea of  yoga, Steven. Not actually doing it."

Steven can't resist seeing how cold the water actually is. 

This draws other onlookers, which is how we met Tim and Dave.
The race organizer, Scott, points out the fine features of the  bikes to be raffled.
Bikes ready for race time.

Steve is always fun. He won everything. Read his write-up.

Was cool to get to visit with Trudi a bit.

Shortly after this pic was taken, the beer trailer was swamped, but it never  ran out. 

Nothing quite as cute as boys on fire duty.

Thanks for reading.


elisabeth said...

Nice work, chica! Looks like something to put on my list for next year, despite its timing in the middle of CX season. And yes, if mtb legs are dead, they're DEAD.

Nancy Brown said...

What a great write up of the race. Thanks for taking the time and effort to post it. I so enjoyed reading it!!!!! You ROCK girl!!!!

RadRenner said...

About 2 years ago I remember someone saying "if she ever figures out how to ride dirt, she could win some MTB races." Congrats on the race and the nice write-up.

Anonymous said...

Nice account of the BTEpic. I just remember seeing you on the singletrack after first checkpoint and thinking" I'm just gonna try to keep her in my sight", which I did until 1st Berryman Camp checkpoint. I wasted no time here so this is where I must have gotten ahead of you. I didn't know I was lead woman until some guy told me on the last singletrack section. So when I pulled out onto the gravel I kept checking over my shoulder to see if any women were coming and I saw nothing but gravel behind me! Girl, you used some mad roadie skills to sneak attack and put the hammer down! I couldn't hang with you on the attack or close the gap- nice job! Only 24 seconds separated us after 55+ miles and over 5 hours of racing! Hope to see you out on the trails. Laura

sydney said...

That was crazy close. I confess, I was so careful to come up behind you. Didn't coast at all b/c the I9 hub is so loud, stayed a little right, b/c ppl tend to look over their left shoulder.... :D

I saw you're a cx racer. Consider coming up 11/19 & 20th for Lincoln CX Weekend. I'll make sure you get put up properly. We're going to have a great time.

Will you be going to Jingle CX?

Anonymous said...

LOL- I was looking over my left shoulder! Thanks for the gracious offer but already doing a fun CX race here on Nov20- It's at Mt Pleasant Winery in Augusta, MO. When and where is Jingle CX?

sydney said...

Jingle CX is the biggest race in our area of the country. The UCI pro men and women roll out for the elite races, but there's something for the rest of us as well. 3 days of great racing, big fields and noisy crowds.

If you decide to make the trip, let me know. Blocks of hotel rooms go quickly.