This past weekend I raced the Croom Crumbler AR with Alli.
The Crumbler is a 2-3 hour AR race that takes place alongside the the slightly longer 6-8 hour Crusher AR. Since it was going to be Alli's first ever AR, we signed up for the Crumbler which is geared more towards first timers.
Alli's first time on a MTB was last weekend at Snow Hill. She had never before ridden a real MTB and never ridden single track. She did pretty well out there so I knew she'd do great at the race.
On to the race.........
The race started at 9:45am. There were 47 teams that started the race. They lined us up in team number order, and since we were team number 44, we were way back at the end of the line. It was going to be a bike start, riding down Croom Rd (hard packed wide road) for about 2-miles, then we'd get off the road and jump into the blue single track.
I knew that once we all hit the single track, there would be a huge back up as riders of all different skill levels would be on a single track and unable to pass. So I told Alli that we were going to ride as fast as we possibly could in order to try and hit the single track ahead of most teams. And given that we were starting at the end of the pack, this was going to be hard. So I took out my tow rope and told Alli how to use it. We had not practice towing, so this might be a little dangerous. But what the heck.
The race started and sure enough, it was a mess. Riders all over the wide road. Once Alli and I finally got going, it was on. We pushed hard, giving it all we had. I was towing her but she still had to keep moving and pedaling fast. We passed team after team after team, And when we finally reached the single track entrance, we had moved up to about 7th position.
In the single track I couldn't tow her, so I let her get in front of me and set our pace. She did great on the single track given it was her 2nd time. A little slow, but she kept moving. The good thing was that almost all the teams were behind us, and they couldn't pass. =) After about 30 minutes, we reached the bike drop off. From here we had a 2-mile trek down the trail to the TA at the Silver Lake Camping area. Alli did great on the trek. Kept moving the entire time.
At Silver Lake we had four special tests to complete. They were fairly simple, just time consuming. After about 25 minutes we had completed all our tests and moved on to the paddling section of the race. At this point I wasn't sure how we were doing because there were racers all over the place. not only were the Crumblers there, but the Crushers (the other race) were there as well. So we had no idea.
Since this was a short race, the paddle was fairly short. We had just two CP's to get. They were easy to get and close to each other. So it only took us about 30ish minutes to get them, and we were back at the TA.
From here it was a 2-mile trek back to our bikes. Then get on our bikes and ride to the finish line. Again, Alli did awesome on the trek back to our bikes. This time actually running faster than she had on the way out. As we were headed to our bikes we found out we were the 5th team so far. Up to this point I was happy just finishing the race. I mean, I wanted to do good of course. But just finishing was our goal. But now that I knew how well we were doing, my competitive edge kicked in.
The bike back was basically the same as the way out. We had a single track section followed by a hard packed road section. The hills and soft sand were tough on Alli, but she kept moving like a trooper. At one point, she got something caught on her rear derrailer and we had to stop to remove it. As we were doing this two teams passed us. One was a 2-person coed, one was a 2-person male. Luckily there was only about 3/4 mile left of single track before we reached the hard packed road. And once we did, I broke out the tow rope again and booked it.
It didn't take us long to catch and pass the 2-person coed team (our competition). The 2-person male team was slightly further ahead. And they sped up when they saw us coming, but for them, it was a losing battle. Within seconds we had caught them, passed them, and left them way behind. =)
We reached the finish line at 12:17pm. Just over 2.5 hours. We finished in 5th place overall (out of 47teams), but best of all, we were 2nd place in the 2-person coed division (out of about 15 teams). We got a cool little award for it.
For her first race Alli did awesome!! Never complained (except for complaining about soft sand, which we all still do) for one second. She jumped in the water, mud, and swampy areas without hesitating for a second. And in her first race and she goes home with hardware!! Took me a while before I brought any awards home. :)
Next up, The Howl at the Moon 18-Hour race with Jason and the Gabberts. Then the Turkey Burn AR with Jason, BB2, and his way better half, Nikki.