There is a category in Mountain Biking, which trumps all others. One particular lady in this category stands out. She passed me the season before in Salmon Arms Salty Dog race. We both raced solo, around and around for six plus hours. She waited until the fourth lap before sneaking up from behind to attack. When she did, I had an excuse ready. “Well, she obviously doesn’t have any kids,” I mumbled to myself happily and then kept rotating my pedals behind her.
I thought about her when I was at the start line of 2017’s Salty Dog. I didn’t see her until she passed me during the third of the 10 kilometre laps. I grumbled to myself, “Crazy-super-woman.” I had since made up numerous of secret identities for her after finding out last year that not only does she have one child, she has four!! OH, COME ON NOW! Damn those yummy mommy’s!
Once again, I couldn’t keep up to her.
I had to pee. Like desperate-I should have peed a lap and a half ago-pee. But it wasn’t part of my race plan. I didn’t plan to pee until lap four. “You are just going to have to wait,” I told my bladder and ignored it for the better part of the next hour. Bad idea. I developed the worst stomach cramps that I have ever experienced. They gnawed at me like someone (probably crazy-super-woman) took a wrench and reefed in back and forth in my abdomen.
I was on the uphill of the open road, which if you have the where with all to have a look around, the view shows a spectacular lake in the distance held within the arms of bright green rolling mountains. The road goes on forever and ever and its all you can do but pretend your on the yellow brick road and you’ll be screaming home sweet home on the down hills soon enough. I stood up to release the pain in my stomach. I sat taller and breathed deep breaths and started a mantra consisting of “breathe into the belly, relax, relax.” My bladder had not forgotten its most dire concern and after 25 minutes of mantra, yelled back at me, “squat already!”
And so I did. One mm off the trail behind a one-inch tree.
“Are you alright?” A rider yelled at me in passing.
“You sure you’re okay!” said the one behind, unfortunately for him slowing down to nearly a stop.
“I just had to pee. I couldn’t wait any longer,” I explained. I’m sure I was crimson red but I hadn’t wanted to waist a single precious race minute finding a better spot.
“You get it out girl!” he laughed.
Relief. I giggled like a little girl for the rest of the downhill to start lap four. Overall by this point, the race was going pretty good. I started faster than last year so didn’t get all bunged up (pardon the pun) on the first couple of trails which tends to happen when 400 people line up like ants up the same single track. My husband rode the course the day before and explains it as, “80% uphill and 20% downhill.” I told him that was impossible from a geography and loop stand point but I digress—It’s a lot of up.
But the down, oh sweet down, really makes up for it. Not the middle down. That part is full of bridges (which I’m not even sure Dorothy likes). And drops that pull the bottom of your stomach out, and this year mud. Like – mud up to your armpits or at the very least your hubs-mud. Now me—I like mud! If only the entire race course was thick with ridiculous sludge, I’m sure I could keep up to crazy-super-woman.
I made it through the mud bog once again. I had realized on the first lap if I rode through on the left, where it looked the worst and deepest, my bike shoes would swim a front crawl through the mud and I didn’t have to step out of my cleats. When I was lucky, I could pass three or four racers who had gone for the right side of the slew. I then made it through the steep up, which by lap four I could no longer ride but took it as a few seconds to stretch my legs and run. And run you must, because you don’t want to be the person who pisses off the super-tight, ridiculous 30-minute lap-time man, coming up from behind. Back on my seat, I made it through the next three long steep downhills.
There was only one more little drop to go. And by little, I mean, nothing really of consequence if you know the line. Which by now I did. I stayed wide, took a sharp turn left, set up my front wheel to roll over it. Out of nowhere, a super-tight insane man decided to take a tighter line in order to pass me on the drop. There was no time to react when he missed his line and bailed. His bike clung alone to the hillside. I clenched my brakes and my body flew forward over my handle bars, over the drop to land on top of his bike. All in all, it was kind of slow motion, and I like to pride myself that I am a pretty awesome faller. I’m like a bumble bee landing on a daisy. Most likely one of the prettiest falls he had ever seen. He apologized profusely at the same time as yelling at the guys coming up from behind to stop. Thankfully no one else made a sandwich out of me.
Only my bike. I was the meat in a bike sandwich.
“I’ll get that,” he said and pulled my bike off my back and then grabbed my hand to bring me upright. He is quite the gentleman, I thought. (Other than cutting me off in a really silly spot. But perhaps I deserved that from a past race?)
Now it’s only as I write this, that I realize he of course had to pick up my bike and me considering I was sprawled on top of his bike like I was sucking out its sweet nectar. But, let’s go with he’s a gentleman.
That is when the pain kicked in.
“Holy crap dude, your spoke just sliced off my nipple,” I winced. I didn’t actually vocalize that but gave him a fist pound instead to say, “it’s all good, have a fun race,” as I clenched my left breast in agony. But that was all that hurt. And really, who needs it? Not in a mountain bike race. So I got back on and beat that tight clad guy up the next slippery hill.
Shortly after that I saw my friend Megan again. She volunteered as a marshal and I loved seeing her. I yelled out “Megan!” and she’d yell, “Kat!” I knew when I saw her it was all fun after that. I got up the hill that she took pictures from on top of, dropped my seat post and flew the rest of the course downhill. The berms are perfect. I felt like a rolling eagle, flying through the turns.
One can hear the music from the start/finish at this point. My entire body smiled from the tips of my dirty toes all the way to my new white helmet. Once there, I jumped off my bike to jog through the loop, had my lap count marked and then leaped back on my bike for the start of lap five.
“Nice jersey,” I heard a deep voice yell. It was the third time I had heard it this race and I laughed. I don’t wear a jersey. They drive me nuts! Like seriously, I will tear the arms off as if I’m a combo of crazy-super-woman and the hulk. And bike shorts? Why would I want to wear a diaper or have a hot vagina. Can’t stand them. So basically I bike around in a bikini. And before you say anything, I have heard it all before, “But what about protection?” You can’t seriously think that a bike jersey is going to protect you, do you? It is not going to bandaid over a broken collar bone or shoulder, and I’m not afraid of a few extra scratches. It should be noted before I go on, that I don’t exactly have a little tiny bikini wearing body, but I don’t care and its super comfortable! Especially when the ride is hot. Which at plus 17 with 20% chance of rain as the race was called for, it’s the perfect outfit.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I was back on the yellow brick road that never ends and saw graphite clouds thundering in with a bitter wind. They had gathered over the lake and had already engulfed the hills in the distance. Goose bumps formed on my bare arms and legs. “Bike faster Kat,” I told myself to warm up. Shortly after that in the bridges and steep downhill section, the rain began. Then the hail, the wet snow and the combo called grample. I took off my sunglasses and stashed them in the pouch on my bike (because I don’t wear a jersey with pockets). I was soaked. My bikini would have been well suited other than it felt like I was in the middle of an Alaskan winter. I shook with cold and my hands froze so I could barely brake, which was okay since I had made it to the nice berm section and as long as I kept my bike upright, I would get a good time. I came in after the fifth lap a trembling, muddy mess.
And thankfully, friends and even someone I didn’t know started throwing clothes at me. I was given new gloves, a vest, arm warmers and thank the heavens, a full on gore-tex jacket. The rain poured on. The music blasted. Spectators huddled in a colourful rainbow beneath their tents.
I headed up for my sixth lap. I buried my chin in the neck of the jacket and took turns when the terrain was not too technical to blow on each hand. The left for five-seconds, then the right. I had been hoping for seven laps but I knew at this point my timing was off and I wouldn’t make it. My last lap. I rode the uphills a bit harder and took my time to be extremely careful on the downhills. My bike cleats and pedals ate mud. They no longer worked. My chain fell off a number of times and I sprayed the sprockets down with the last of my power drink. “I love you bike,” I told it. “You’re doing awesome, just a little more.” I encouraged.
And then there was Megan again, “Kat!” she yelled and I smiled and laughed, happy about the day, but having learnt many lessons which I thought about on the last downhill. First of all, if you have to pee, just go. It takes too much energy to hold it. Second, I need to wear a watch or a timer so I can keep track of lap times so I don’t run out of time again. And third, get sponsored by some awesome bike company who will design a pretty coloured (pink or purple preferred) tank top jersey with pockets and shorts with NO padding but which will stay down on my quads and not ride up my bum like a bikini.
And finally, maybe next year, I’ll catch that yummy mommy, crazy-super-woman.
Written by Katrina Rosen