It was a roller coaster of a weekend here in KC. Saturday came around with skies veiled in angry clouds. Reports of damaging storms, tornadoes, giant hail and/or seemingly the Apocalypse was looming at the tip of every tongue. Why is this happening; there’s a Mountain Bike Endurance Race tomorrow?!?!
CORE-bin and I cruised out to Clinton Lake State Park to check on-sight conditions for the 2012 Bonebender 3/6 Mountain Bike Odyssey on what was hearsay to be the last opportunity to register. For some odd reason I tend to be a race-day-registrant, but in this scenario there was no race-day option. COR-bin and I were there to pre-ride the course and get hard evidence as to IF we’d be down for racing if shit did hit the fan. The course was marked well and full of short powerful climbs, flowy single track and rock gardens galore. The trail was 99.9% dry and great for racing. Assuming we'd dodge the forecasted overnight rain, we planned to race. If we did get dumped on; it was going to be up in the air as to whether or not we’d be willing to endure the epic that would ensue. Slick rocks and tree routes are deadly when riding at race speed, and we knew poor conditions would make for a day of pure hell. I for one was not really interested in crashing my brains out in the mud considering the flying circus that occurred just nights ago. Needless to say I was feeling a bit sandy in the giner…
Sunday morning did in fact arrive and Dirt Church was on my mind. Peering out the window in a daze of barely awakedness, I see hints of dryness and decide I'm racing. COR-bin, being less core than he’s generally known for, bails out of the adventure leaving Ranski and I all alone for the forty-five minute drive to the race - during which the iPhone radar gadgetry was overused yet pleasantly admired. A storm was in the area, but the *465 mph winds would surely dry the tread long before we could drink a pre-race six-pack of carbohydrate goodness.
We arrive casually late and get all geared-up for action; Ranski with his photography gear that far surpassed the expense of my bike by double and me in my team apparel. I’m not sure how many more times I’m going to be able to convince myself to dawn said wardrobe. It’s so gay in a bad way, and highly unnecessary.
There are 275 plus folks registered. The crowd was large and we lined-up for the neutral start consisting of a loop on Bunker Hill and way too much pavement. Riding one gear I knew from the start that I would end up late into the single track behind a handful of geared roadie-types who could not ride over a wet rock if they’re taint depended on it. I was correct, as soon as we hit the black line of earth carving through the green forest, bikes and riders were strewn about the place like rag dolls. It was a nightmarish slow-train of jerks not willing to ride, not able to ride or just ignorant that a few of us were interested in actually riding our bike. I was yelling for people walking bikes to move off the tread as ‘Rider Back’ was coming through. Don’t you agree that if there is a person walking their bike they should GTF outta the way for someone riding? I sure the hell do. Passing during a race is somewhat awesome. It gives you a feeling of being fast, even if you are a turtle. I passed 32 riders during that first treacherous lap.
Not soon enough but sometime later the train derailed and it was fast and fun riding for lap after lap of slicker than snot rocks, tree roots and otherwise good dirt. The climbing was intense and the trail was indeed technical. I feel for those poor souls who’ve never set rubber on technical trail in heinous conditions. They were in for a rude awakening for sure. Clinton Lake hosts some gnarly trail, and riding said trail for six plus hours is no small task for anyone.
My first two laps I kept an o.k. pace; not too fast but not lolly-gagging. My third lap I was hurting and tired. I had hit my already injured knee on my stem and just about crawled-up in a ball on the side of the trail, but instead just groveled-on. I took a nice break after this lap, ate a killer PB&J that my four year old son made for me that morning, took a short visit to the toilet-with-a-view and was off again for a casual final lap. It was most pleasant on the trail by this time. The tread and rocks were dry, the sun was out, wind bowing and a general sense of peace engulfed my mind. I was so into the moment of being in the woods that at several occasions I stopped and sat there looking out into the lake, taking it all in, letting people pass and cheering them on. I was not racing to win, but as an excuse to ride my bike for six hours on great trail; to be in the woods and escape the routine of work and responsibility. It was a glorious time.
Ranski was out shooting photos of the Ethos Posse for the entire race. I think he had at least four blood-sucking ticks high-jacking a ride home in his flesh. It was great to see him through the dumb-end of the lens each lap, perched in some dangerous location hoping to catch some poor soul eating dirt.
I was in the saddle for 6 hours and 22ish minutes. It was a great time. Thanks to The Dirt Dobber for running one of my favorite events. Thanks to John of Pot Pie for the best fried chicken/ mac & cheese in the multiverse. Thanks to my family for letting me go out and play in the woods.
For those who didn't come out to play, well, the show turned out to be great. G-wiz pulled a cool 4th in the fast 3 hour solo, Team Rocket with the 6 hour duo overall, Coletrain with a 2nd in the 6 hour SS, Peat Awesome in 1st 6 hour SS (in true form) – and then there was little ol’ me with a 4th place in 6 hour solo SS. Good Times!
I am hopeful that Chris and the Cow Town team puts this race on again next year, as I’ve heard talk that he’s wanting to pass the baton. I can understand being that race promotion of any caliber is a huge pain in the ass…but worth it in the end if your event turns out to be a giant success. Bonebender 2012 was nothing short of just that.