Saturday was my last race before the Colorado Trail Race – the B68 Marathon. I’ve raced the B-32 and the Breck 100, but never the 68 mile version of the Breck 100. The Breck 100 is 3 different loops, and the 68 is loop 2 and 3. I got up to Breck on Thursday night and stayed with my friend Cynthia. In the morning, I headed out for a decent 2 hour ride, previewing some sections of the course. I rode my hardtail for the first time since the Bailey Hundo. It felt invigorating not to have a 15 lb pack on my back and bags with stuff in them on my bike! I noticed that I felt really strong and I spent the next hour talking myself out of switching to do the 100. The Breck 100 was my very first 100 mile mountain bike race and I’ve been meaning to race it again as an experienced 100 mile racer vs. the rookie I was 3 years ago! After an hour of telling myself, “Yes, you’d do well in the 100, but you’d dig a hole for CTR. Don’t do it. Don’t do it” and my friends telling me not to do it, I held off from switching.
The first lovely thing about the B-68 is the start time – 10 AM. Most of my races this year have been starting between 6 and 7 AM which meant that I slept well and wasn’t anxious about waking up so early. We all showed up at the skating rink for the start and I was delighted to see about 20 women lining up for the B-68!! I also was excited to race with badass Sari Anderson!!! I learned that the start format would be such that ALL the B-68 men would start in front of us in 2 minute increments in their respective age categories. I also knew the first big climb of the race was mostly on tight singletrack, but started with a few miles of road.
Sari and I led the charge from the start. I decided to jump on the front and push the pace at the start instead of lollygaggin’ out of town.
I glanced over my shoulder and much to my surprise, the only person I saw was Sari. I told her, “I wanted to go a little harder on the road so we can start passing guys before getting into the singletrack.” She and I took pulls and worked together up the road. Towards the top of the road, my legs were feeling grumpy from the effort after standing around for 20 minutes waiting to start so I slowed a little, but still kept Sari about 10 ft in front of me. She was the first to enter the singletrack which ended up being a very smart move on her part! There was a long line of guys that were racing, and we politely tried to get around them. The trouble with course traffic is that if one person passes, the other must pass at the same time or a gap will form. It also expends a lot of energy. I did my best to stay with Sari until the inevitable happened. This poor guy fell over as we tried to pass him. Sari got away, and I had to stop, wait, and get off my bike. There was another group of 4 she got around before I even got to the back of their train and just like that, she was gone.
I wanted to say thanks to all the men on course we passed. You were very gracious and did your best letting us get by!
I pulled my pace back a little bit and tried to ride conservatively for the remainder of the lap because I know how much time you can loose on the last climb back up Boreas Pass if you’re fried. I stopped at Aide 2 and refilled – I drank a lot of water during the first loop and conserved for the push on lap 2.
Meanwhile, the skies blackened. I stopped at my pit in the park to fold my rain jacket and shove it in my pocket, downed a small bottle of water although I think I spilled more on myself than I drank, grabbed more food and took off. Moments later, it started to rain so I stopped and put on my jacket. It didn’t last long and I found myself sweating in the jacket, so I stopped to take it off, fold it back up and shove it in my pocket. I felt good on the climb up to Boreas Pass Road and started to push harder. My boyfriend was at Aide 6 on the top and handed me a coke of which I took a few big gulps and told me that Sari was 9 minutes ahead. I knew the Gold Dust Trail, and put my jacket back on again because it was chilly at the top. Again, I was a sweating mess and finally stopped again to take it back off (fail!). I was happy with how I was riding Gold Dust and I kept eating and drinking to make sure I felt strong on the back of Boreas. Once I got out of Como, I turned the dial all the way up and rode a fast, consistent pace up Boreas Pass. I made a lot of ground and passed a lot of people who were groveling and fighting the last climb of the race. I knew I was close….
On the way back down, I saw a course marking that looked weird and thought nothing of it until I glanced again and saw a couple racers on the trail. “That doesn’t seem right…” I thought as I continued to descend. Then doubt set in. What if I’m wrong? What if the course did go that way? I stopped, turned around, and rode back up the road. By that time, the 2 racers were coming back down because they thought the same thing I did. There was a weird errant course marking. I yelled to them, “I don’t think that’s right!!!” When they quickly conceded, I turned back around and started heading downhill, but hesitant until I saw another course marking a few miles down the road. I was cursing myself for wasting valuable time, but tried to make myself feel better saying it wouldn’t matter and I’d probably lose by about 5 minutes anyway. I descended the last section with a guy.
I felt strong rolling into the finish and was actually sad it was over! I crossed the finish line and heard Larry G saying “WHOA! Looney was right behind her! I can’t believe how close that was!”
Thinking it was minutes, not seconds from the win, I shrugged it off. He came to us with the microphone and asked if we were battling. I said, “No, I didn’t see her the whole race after she got away in the singletrack. My only mishap was my shifting was having major issues.” Sari said that she had been having some stomach issues and ad to slow down for lap 2.
After the results were posted, I saw that I lost by a mere 17 seconds. It’s pretty unbelievable that I never saw Sari ahead! I will graciously say that Sari was the stronger rider for the day, and I am actually glad I didn’t beat her because her stomach was hurting. That’s not a graceful way to take the top spot(it’d be like winning because someone flatted), but it was exciting how close it was and I suppose that’s all part of racing. In the end and despite a few tactical mistakes(i.e. the jacket!!), I’m proud of the way I rode and very happy with my form going into CTR. Turns out hauling a bunch of weight around makes you strong!
Sari Anderson -1st
Sonya Looney – 2nd
Sonya Bugbee – 3rd
Great job to everyone out there! Sunday was the last big CTR training day.