Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Barn Burner 104 Race Recap

2011 Barn Burner 104
I'm going to warn you right now, this is a pretty lengthy race recap.  But, I've included a lot of photos for your viewing pleasure!

We headed out to the Flagstaff area on Friday morning.  We arrived in Flagstaff just in time to experience the afternoon flood gates opening up.  There was about 8 miles of dirt road that we had to drive on to get to the actual race site, and since it was raining quite heavily, it was now 8 miles of mud road, which my white minivan did not enjoy.  Once we finally made it to the race location, the rain had stopped and it was time to set up base camp!

Our home away from home for the next two days
We were pretty lucky because part of our team (my mother-in-law and her husband, Old Wise One) had arrived the day before us and picked a prime spot for camping.  We enjoyed each others company for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, and then headed off to bed to hopefully get some rest for the big 104-mile relay!

At about 5:15 a.m., the music was up and running and the announcer for the day was already giving his lungs at little work.  I woke up to use the bathroom, made my way back to the trailer only to find that I couldn't get in.  Somehow the door had locked behind me.  I wasn't racing until later in the day, and I had no urgent need to get back into the camper, so I decided against waking someone up to open up the door and just took a seat outside and covered myself with a blanket.

I was pretty comfortable just sitting in my chair
Once everyone had risen from their slumber, and the rest of our team had arrived, it was time for the official pre-race team photo.

The team!  (Old Wise One, Beth, Mark, me)

The start was pretty interesting.  They had everyone start a set distance away from the bikes and run to their bikes, which caused a huge bottle neck.  Old Wise One was the lucky one who got to experience this part of the race:

Once that mess was over, he was off to a glorious 26 mile mountain bike ride.

Old Wise One at the beginning of his 26 mile loop

Next up was Beth.

Beth right after Old Wise One handed her out bandana/baton
After Beth was Mark.

Old Wise One and Beth posing with Mark (middle) after he finished his leg of the race
And riding last was going to be me!  Since we figured we each would take somewhere between two and two and a half hours, I had plenty of time to prepare.

This is how I spent most of my day...deep mental preparation!
It was sort of a weird morning for me as I didn't really have a plan in mind on how to eat during the first part of the day.  Normally for races I wake up, have some coffee and a bagel, and that's about it.  Since I was going to be riding some time after lunch, I had to improvise a little.  So I woke up and had 2 cups of coffee, a bagel and a banana, and then started sipping on some water.  Later I had a Marathon Bar, and cracked open another bottle of water.  After Mark had been out on the course for about an hour, it was time to put on the battle garb!

Getting ready for not only my first mountain bike race, but my 4th mountain bike ride ever!
Once I was ready, it was time to head over to the transition area and wait for Mark to arrive.

Hanging out, waiting for my turn!
Once Mark arrived, it was time for the bandana hand-off, and time for me to get moving!

Mark handing me the bandana/baton.

It was at this point in time that things got a little sketchy.  Like I mentioned earlier, our drive up to the race location was accompanied by a pretty nice rain storm.  And, as I wrote last week, there was supposed to be some rain on race day.  Up until noon, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  When it was time for me to go wait my turn to ride, there started to be more and more clouds.  We did our exchange, and I was off.  Little did I know that about 5 or 10 minutes after I started my ride, the entire transition area and camping area was being not only rained on, but hailed on too.

That storm caught up to me when I was about 45 minutes or so into my 26 mile loop.  It was nice at first, until it started coming down really hard.  Then, I just decided to laugh about it and keep on keepin' on!

Coming around the last turn before the finish...all smiles!
We had hopes of finishing under 10 hours, which would allow us to earn a belt buckle.  It was pretty tough to estimate what our actual finishing time would be though.  As the day continued on, it became clearer that we were on the right track.  And since we had all done as good, if not better than we had hoped, when I crossed the finish line, our total time as a team was 9:01:43!  We had plenty of time to spare!

Thumbs up for a successful race!

And another thumbs up!
Remember that rain storm I was talking about?  Well, it might be hard to see in the above photos, but I got pretty muddy out there on the course.

Do I have anything on my face?  No?  Okay, thanks.

Good thing I had these sunglasses to keep the mud out of my eyes!
And at some point during all of the rain and "rock garden" excitement, my helmet suffered a little wardrobe malfunction.

Yep.  That's the inner lining of my helmet down around the bottom of my head.
Fortunately, there were some portable showers that were brought in so that the athletes could shower after they were done.  Unfortunately for me, they mysteriously lost water pressure when I was done with my portion of riding, which was the muddiest portion of the day.  Funny how that works!  But that was the beauty of having the camper...I just took a little shower out in the open (with clothes on of cousrse!).

The craziest part of the race actually took place about 5 minutes after I was done riding.  We were all standing around talking about the race when, well, just watch this video (pay close attention at the 1:50 mark).

This is what happened:

That is one flat tire!

Look at the size of that thing!
It was absolutely crazy!  I'm not too sure how it didn't pop on me while I was riding, but I'm sure as heck glad that it didn't!

After I got all cleaned up and ate some food, it was time to go get our prize.  Mark and Beth hung around for a little while, then had to take off so they weren't able to be there to receive the belt buckles.  Lucky for them, because they just missed out on a big mess.  The only negative of this whole event was they way they handed out the belt buckles.  It was quite possible the most unorganized thing I've seen in a while.  But, after a lot of standing around and confusion, I finally made my way up to the table and just told the guy that my team earned 4 of the smaller belt buckles.

Finally getting my hands on the prize!

What a glorious belt buckle!
Old Wise One and myself posing with our new hardware
A belt buckle with a bottle opener...now that's useful!
This race was a great success, not only for the team but for myself as well.  As a team, we accomplished our goal of finishing under 10 hours.  For myself, I completed my first mountain bike race and didn't crash!

Thanks to Mark, Beth, and Old Wise One for allowing me to join the team on such late notice.  And thanks to Old Wise One for letting me use your bike on race day!

I think I see a larger belt buckle in our future!  Thanks for reading!

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