Bike Doctor Sheduro
Last weekend brought the second annual Bike Doctor Sheduro race, an enduro style race held in the Frederick Watershed outside of Frederick, Maryland. An enduro race is comprised of timed stages with untimed transitions, so you sprint your face off on certain sections and are able to recover in between, much like a Gran Fondo race in the road cycling world. A bunch of us Michaux shredders went down to pre-ride part of the course the weekend before and I thought, “Hey, maybe I’ll throw my hat in the ring and try an enduro race!” I am still a bit gun shy and inexperienced when it comes to racing, but I feel that I have been slowly improving with my technical skills and my fear threshold when it comes to sketchy riding has elevated quite a bit due to the type of crazy men I ride with on a weekly basis as well as since getting my new Cannondale Habit, a dream of a bike.
Race day was absolutely beautiful. I was so glad for the Wicked Girl Rebel Tank because it was such a warm, humid day. Brandon was racing too, as were a lot of our buddies that we ride with every week in Michaux. The Frederick Watershed is a very well maintained area with Michaux-type technical terrain. The race was approximately 21 miles with 3,200 feet of elevation gain and comprised of five timed stages. The first trail had a good amount of technical rock gardens, which actually flowed perfectly with great lines. I found on that trail, at least for me, is that it wasn’t a great trail to peg it as hard as you could. Smooth seemed to be faster than trying to peg it, as pushing it too fast may have negatively affected my ability to ride out the technical bits efficiently. The end of the stage was a double track, which I crawled up, unsure of where my power went. Stage two was very fast, spectators were lined up on the last technical bit and get you so amped that I just barrelled through like a kamikaze, definitely picked some terrible lines and got a bit sloppy but I was so excited to hear the cheers! First two stages complete, I felt gassed! I crawled up the next two climbs onto a longer piece of transition single track. I was beginning to think, “I don’t think I will even be able to finish the race, I have absolutely no power.” I pushed down a Gu Roctane, which by the way, makes you feel amazing. One cool aspect of enduros is that you can pick your own pace between stages, but in a race of more than 150 racers it is a good idea to keep moving, that way you don’t end up waiting in a long line to begin each stage. Stage three was a flowy trail with a lot of chunky bits as well as fast and very loose descents, where you barrel down and see the rocks shooting left and right as you descend. At the end of stage three you climb up Hamburg Road, which was about a twenty minute climb back up to stage four. Stage four, Albatross, starts off with flow progressing to chunky bits, two gap jumps (definitely passed on those!), then more loose, dust covered chunk descending at about 25% grade down to the bottom. Around one of the turns at the top, my foot hit the dirt and threw me sideways but saved it, I think I yelled out some obsenties in front of some children. Whoops. With enduro races, it becomes tricky when you begin a stage. You have to make good judgements on how much time you want to leave between you and the racer ahead of you. Unfortunately the guy behind me didn’t leave me enough time and I had to stop to let him go, I appreciated his faith in my supposed speed but he was on a much higher level than I was! Unfortunately, that definitely affected my stage time but hey, I should’ve pushed harder to make up for that! The last stage, Creampie trail, came after another twenty minute climb. I had to slap my thighs around a little bit to get ready for this one. We pre-rode this trail the weekend before as well as the day before, and boy am I glad that we did! This is a pretty notorious trail at the Frederick Watershed, and was the steepest and most technical trail of the race. You gain awesome speed into the trail and hold on from there. I really need to work on my jumping ability, as there was a log jump where if I had been more mentally ready to tackle it I could have knocked more time off. The steeper landing as well as my landing abilities in general kept me from trying it, so that was the only area I got off the bike. The rest of the trail is comprised of chunky rock the rest of the way down with 25-47% graded descents. The one section, where it is just a 47% grade of dusty chunk, I was saying over and over out loud, “it’s okay, it’s okay, you got it, you got it, hold on, hold on” and that kept me from trying to bail, which would definitely be more dangerous. Brandon, Darren, Steve, Greg, and Howard were all at the bottom of the stage yelling and cheering, which really helped me ride the last sketchy bit with more confidence! Who wants to crash hard in front of a group?
The end of the race was a descent down to pizza and beer while we waited for the shuttle back up to the venue. There was a food trunk back up at the venue, which had the most amazing food imaginable. Results were posted very quickly as it was chip timing, the promoters did such an awesome job organizing each aspect of this race. The guys did awesome in their race, Howard finishing in 6th place, Brandon in 11th, and Shane in 20th in the Open Men’s category of about 55 racers. Steve and Greg finished 8th and 9th in the Men’s Open 45+ category. I was stoked to find out that I placed first in the Open Women’s category, battling with bad ass Rebecca Coca much of the race, she beat me on three out of the five stages. I luckily secured the win by getting about two minutes on the field on Stage 5, thank you to the steep technical Michaux trails for the preparation! It was so awesome to meet so many awesome ladies there who love to shred as much as I do, they kicked butt and were the nicest group of women that I have ever met, I hope we are able to meet up to do a group ride sometime!
Looking back at the race, I realize that there are many things I need to work on to improve my ability to complete a race such as an enduro. When I go out on a ride I usually hammer pretty hard, but haven’t been doing any sustained sprints or tempo speed rides on the mountain bike lately. I also noticed that for racing in general I need to develop a stronger mental game to focus on being smooth and consistent in order to be able to lay it all out there on the trail. I tend to lose focus and let my mind wander. I need to remind myself to keep looking ahead, to brake more efficiently, and to learn how to move around more multi-directionally on the bike. That’s one good thing about riding and racing, it always reveals your weaknesses as well as your strengths and that allows you to grow for your next adventure. Another awesome thing about races as well as the cycling community in general is being able to allow others to influence you, whether it be riding style, speed, or with a good old fashioned positive attitude that promotes the encouragement of others over self. Cheers to bikes, good friends, and meeting new people. Ride on!
Photo credit to First Place Photography.