Last year's race at Boggs was deemed "epic". There was below freezing temperatures, hail, and a ton of climbing as me and the girls traded laps for 8 hours. Yet, somehow, I still wanted to go back. No reason, except that despite all that, I had fun.
New team this year, one that showed up with a cord of wood to burn, three kegs of beer, food to sustain an army, dogs, beards and general crude behavior. New riding partner, who I had traded blows with during cyclocross season. New bike to borrow...
The weather was fabulous, warm even, but the bummer was that a chance of rain altered the race course significantly. Instead of 10 miles of mostly singletrack, it was 5 miles of all fireroads. A lot of people were pretty upset about this; Boggs is gorgeous curvacous singletrack, dry and wooded, swoopy and not terribly technical and we weren't going on it. Several people abandoned the race, tore off their number plates, and rode the trails; the rest of us raced the roads as directed. Truth be told, the fireroad wasn't all that bad; some crazy fun rock gardens and super fast descents made for a great race.
Topher raced all 8 hours by himself, fueled on high-tech sports nutrition and a will that just never quits. He took third in the pro category.
I myself ended up doing about the same mileage and climbing as last year (uuugh brutal!), but did it in 3.5 hours instead of 4. I even drank that beer at the end of lap 3. This to me is a huge win and proves that I am indeed getting stronger.
Or at least the bike was better suited. I borrowed a carbon 29er hardtail for the race and had put one hour of practice on it before gaining my saddle sores. I had wanted to try one for a while, just to know if the rumors were true of how much better they were. The wheels are larger, and thus the whole geometry of the mountain bike has to change around them, especially for us short folk who are in danger of getting a dangerously high center of gravity or sitting in between the axles like a dune buggy. There was also the fact that it was a hardtail vs my usual full-suspension, meaning I didn't get to sit as much. And that it was carbon, putting the whole assembly around 20 pounds and able to be flung off a cliff with great ease. I was a little scared of how it would handle, like climbing into a U-Haul after driving a Honda Civic for years.
Now, I can honestly say, I get it. I understand the hype. The sensation of "floating" over bumps and rocks was uncanny, as if I were a rock skipping across waves. The balance allowed me to carve around switchbacks, and I never felt any warnings that I might be flung over the handlebars. The thing begged to dart downhill like a hummingbird; I think that was the least I've touched my brakes ever. Simply amazing.
Now I want one, but I have this entire pink bike that I've loved and built and simply doesn't thrill me anymore. I totally do not need a new bike. Really and honestly. Do. Not. Need.