Go Dad Go!

A self-important blog about riding bikes, raising kids and the all-too-rare nexus of these two pursuits.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Boggs 8-Hour Mountain Bike Race

Confirmed roadie though I am, I do appreciate a mountain bike ride from time to time, and last weekend I got a full dose by way of competing in the Boggs 8-Hour race.

Every fall, as I’ve described here, friends and I ride in the Chequemegon 40, 2 ½ hours of double-track, fire roads and pavement that I've written about in the past. And a couple of years ago I joined three other dads to form a team for the Coolest 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race – 6 times around a 50-minute loop (one of our guys flatted a tubeless tire and took 90 minutes, setting us back from a possible seventh lap), about 10 minutes of which was single-track, the rest up-and-down fire roads and wide hiking trails. In both of these races I’ve had the chance to feel really fast, boasting a pass:get-passed ratio of a solid 50:1 (or in the case of Chequamegon, 1,500:1 – no joke).

Here’s how Boggs differed from those two races:

  1. It was mostly singletrack. Seventy-five percent, I’d say.
  2. The competition was much stiffer. Take that ratio down to 10:1 or so.

I teamed up with my friend Jim Rusk; he and his girlfriend Jen camped adjacent to my tent which, being my nine year-old son’s, was the smallest among hundreds of others. People had set up compounds, with stand-up tents, trailers, awnings, full cook-stoves, sun showers and more than a couple of playpens. Meanwhile, my tent measured about 3’x5’, and no more than 3’ tall. It looked like one of those homes that the old lady refuses to sell to the hotel developers, literally in the shade of the other structures in the vicinity.

This race doesn’t call for a blow-by-blow report; at least, my performance doesn’t. Take a warmup consisting of riding from one’s tent, to the portapotties, to the start line – no more than 200 meters total – and combine that with a mass start heading up a steep hill and into a bottleneck less than half a mile away, and you get the kind of lactic acid that really never dissipates. My first lap was my second-slowest of five, partly due to not yet knowing the course and missing a turn, but also because my quads felt like I’d laid them over one of those big cookstoves, and I was frantically gulping for air, like we were at 10,000’.

But I had a blast nonetheless, and feel like I attended an intensive mountain biking clinic. Going over the same swooping singletrack sections, hairpin-around-the-tree corners and rock-and-root gardens over and over again, I could feel my skills improve, even as my body tired.

Hopefully there’s a training effect in there as well, for this wasn’t just a skillsfest; it was a wicked workout too. Five laps of about 45 minutes (creeping up to 50 by the fifth), each one a gut-buster of up-and-down, switching from rhythmic climbing to self-preservation-induced muscle tension while trying not to hold up every other rider in the race on the descents, all resulted in my feeling full-on destroyed. While the 2 ½ hours between laps at the Cool race provided chances to rally, so that each time you’d think, “Alright – I’m ready to take this on again!” the less-than-an-hour afforded by the two-man structure left me praying that Jim would take his time and grant me a few extra minutes of rest.

But that’s the whole point, right? To challenge ourselves, to draw on competitiveness and self-motivation to push ourselves to points that very few people these days ever encounter. That’s what I had a chance to do last weekend up at the Boggs 8-Hour Mountain Bike Race.


Blogger Dirty Mike said...

Boogs was fun huh? Then you should do Coolest 24!

Check out our stupid ramblings here: www.sparetimetospare.blogspot.com

4:30 PM  
Blogger Dirty Mike said...

you should do coolest 24. there is also an 8 hour if you haven't had enough fun yet.


4:31 PM  

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