Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tough Race

Photo from

Twelve tough winter bikers lined up for the inaugural Sheep Mountain 150 bike race last Saturday morning at 9am. There were no women singed up for the race. Two of the twelve were signed up for the 100 mile "easier" option, including Brian.

The course proved to be tougher than any of the racers imagined, non of who had ridden the course before. Conditions were good, but hills were steep and long, so there was a lot more pushing than anyone had anticipated.

When asked what made the route so tough, many racers talked about the demoralizing effect of pushing a bike up a couple of hundred feet thinking that you were arriving at Belanger Pass (the high point on the trail) only to get to the top and realize you were not even close, followed by a long torturous descent in which all of the elevation just gained was lost, only to do it all over again.

It's tough not knowing how far you are along a course and what to expect in the miles to come. People like to know what's coming, how much farther they have to go, and what effort it will take to get there. The only way to overcome the mental torture of not knowing what lies ahead is to train your brain to live in the moment.

You have to try to have fun wherever you are, really take the time to enjoy the scenery, focus on your bike handling skills or do some thinking that you never have time to do at home because you are too busy. When it's dark and you are cold, hungry and tired, that's really hard to do. Your mind keeps going back to how uncomfortable you are and when you are going to be finished. You think about all of the food you'd like to eat, but don't have, what it will feel like to finally snuggle into your warm sleeping bag or bed, or how it will feel to finally thaw your frozen toes. I have never ridden a course this tough before though, so I can't even imagine what these racers went through.

It took the fastest racers 9 hours to ride the first 50 miles. Brian arrived at the first checkpoint spent after 11 hours.

Photo from

In the end only five of the original twelve finished. Only two finished the full 150.

More race photos

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