Race: Buff Betty Adventure race
Date: Sept 9, 2017
Location: Shenandoah River State Park
Rider: Jessica Kutz
So every once in a while I deviate from the traditional cycling scene; specifically, I’ve taken a liking to adventure racing. On Sept 9 I participated in the Buff Betty, which is my 3rd ever adventure race (1st solo race). I was super excited for this event because it was a women’s only event, which isn’t that common for sports affiliated with the outdoor world. The race was hosted by Adventure Addicts Racing, the two previous races I had done were hosted by them, so I new I was in for a treat.
The challenge of racing solo had nothing to do with the “stages” of the race: mountain biking, trekking and paddling, but everything to do with the fact that I still don’t know how to use a compass (disclaimer: I was a girl scout. My mom was my troop leader. All I remember is how to sew pillows and start a fire.) I had with me a $3 compass, which proved useless the first time I “tried” to use it and it couldn’t settle on which way was north. In the defense of the compass, it had air bubbles (because it cost $3) so it wouldn’t function properly. No worries, I used my womanly intuition and read terrain features (that I do well, I’ve been lost MANY time on my mountain bike).
The day started off on foot and I was moving fast (strange because I’m not much of a runner…in my opinion). I found the first few check points REALLY fast and then came a bonus checkpoint. Bonuses checkpoints are in addition to the regular check points but tend to be harder to find (hence the need for navigational skills…and a working compass). Needless to say, while on the trek (run) portion I wasted 45 minutes between 2 different bonus checkpoints. Not my proudest moment (but hey, I didn’t get lost!). The next portion was on the bike I knew I could make up so of that lost time.
I actually ride my bike in the park that the race took place in (Andy Guest State Park) all the time. So I had a big confidence boost and a really solid plan of how to go about snagging checkpoints quickly and effectively. Oddly, I think I road those trails, and not on the trails, faster than I ever have out there. The bike portion was over and done with in just 1 hour without any mistakes and some pretty sweet short cuts through the woods (this is legal and encouraged in adventure racing).
Then I hit the paddle portion, the dreaded paddle portion. Don’t get me wrong, I like to paddle….when I can go slowly and listen to music. I don’t love paddling when I’m trying to go fast, look for little flags and trying not to flip my kayak when I get stuck on rocks and insist or rocking back and forth instead of simply wading through the water. The paddle is always mentally tough. I was really excited during this section because I was SURE I was going to clean the course (get all checkpoints and bonus check points) but then my enthusiasm took a turn for the worst. I paddled right past where the 2nd to last check point should have been, and I have eyes like a hawk and didn’t see it. I contemplated paddling back but I couldn’t justify that amount of work for 1 checkpoint. I paddled into the finish sort of excited (I was the first solo racer in; only a team of team experienced adventure racers came in before me) because I thought I missed a checkpoint. BUT THEN….more racers started coming in and EVERYONE was missing that checkpoint. Low and behold, some park user decided to take down the checkpoint flag (it was recused floating down the river). So technically I didn’t clear the course BUT I was given credit for clearing the course since there was no flag to find in about 4 hours (you were given 6 hours to finish). I’ll take it!.
At the end of the day, I had a blast being outside. These races are like a scavenger hunt for adults/ outdoor lovers. Honestly, I kept thinking how much FUN I was having during the race…that’s something special. I’ll wrap up my fall continuing to cross train with trail running and mountain biking and finally by competing in one more adventure race in Charlottesville VA (this one is 15 hours long!). I’m looking forward to working with our mountain bike contingent for the start of our spring season. Several long endurance races are in store for me this coming year!
Result: 1st place
Reading Radsport Hill Climb
A small but powerful field took off Friday night in the mist of the beer tent and music festivities starting to entertain the evening. I knew it was going to approximately 10 minutes of pain and suffering up Mount Penn, and I knew who to keep my eye on.
It was a quick, winding course, where drafting played a factor. I was torn between strategies, as I knew to work in my favor, I could not delay the effort to the final part of the course, but I also had to do my best to not have riders on my wheel. I went almost full gas from the bottom of the hill, glancing over my shoulder every now and then to see who was dropping off. There was 5 of us, and then 3 of us... when it was down to the 3 of us, I tried to keep the pace high, but knew it was going to be a sprint to the finish line. Emily Spence and her teammate rode extremely smartly, and knew they just had to hold my wheel to win the race. Emily had be beat at the line, and played the game smart, as I ended up in 2nd. It was a fun, short battle!
Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon
What a fun opportunity! I was invited to join forces with 3 powerful athletes (runner, and two paddlers). Did someone just invite me to ride a 27 mile hilly course at threshold in one of the most beautiful places in the country? Yes please!
My husband Ian jumped in and joined a team as their runner, and we made the road trip together up to the Berkshires. I was a bit nervous about the bike start, as there were 500 riders lined up for a mass start! I was lucky enough to have my host and starter of the race, Craig Walton, invite me to the front row. It was like I back at home, riding with the guys :) wondering if I can hold the strongest riders' wheels. Two riders got away about 8 miles into the course, and I missed the boat on attempting to work with them, and was about a minute 30 seconds back, with a group of about 15 riders. We worked together for the most part to keep the pace high and safe. It was rolling hills, but nothing long enough to attempt an effective 'breakaway.' My legs felt good and smooth, and was actually surprised when I uploaded my race file, to see a powerful file of strong work for a solid hour.
Gloria, one of my paddler teammates, was right there in the transition area to receive the wrist band hand off, and off went Laura and Gloria to paddle their way to Lori, our runner. We ended up 7th overall, including the male teams, and first overall female team, with what I believe was a new female course record! A great weekend spent with some new faces.
Race: Masters and Rookies/ Track
Date: September 9, 2017
Location: Trexlertown, PA
Rider: Jo Johnson
The last Saturday race day for the track season today. Sorry to see it all end but I think a short break would be nice too. The first race was a 12 lap scratch with winner take all. It would be a fast race with 14 riders. I went to the front from the start but did not want to stay there so went up track after the first lap, I worked within the group and as the group morphed in a few laps, I was in the back of a tight pack and I mean shoulder to shoulder. The pace was too comfortable so I moved myself up and over the group, charging from the back to lead and up the pace at lap 7 with 5 laps to go. Dangling at the front for about 2 laps, I was overtaken with about 3 laps to go but came in behind the group in 10th.
Next race was the Miss N Out which is usually very quick. The number of riders starting begins to change and I think we are less one rider now. Last rider across the line is dropped each lap until 3 riders are left to sprint it out for the win. The number of riders starting begins to change and I think we are less one rider now. Coach says to get to the front. Ok, so I jump into the lead from the start for 3 laps then stay in the group for the 4th lap but can not hold on for the 5th lap so I am dropped.
Last race of the season is the 10 lap Snowball. The winner of each lap gains one more point each lap. First lap is one point, second lap is 2 points etc. This continues until the last lap which is double points. My objective is to see if I can win lap one and gain one point. The neutral lap is a good positioning lap and I put myself in the first row on the bottom of the track. When the gun sounds, I take off at the same time Jenna, a 16 year old, takes off from the top of the track. I jump in behind her and we quickly gain a little bit on the rest of the field. She wins the first lap but I am right behind her and pass her half way around on the second lap, now I push hard for lap 2 lead and capture 2 points. Best for me to stay on it and I can, crossing the line again for 3 points for lap 3. At this point I am not thinking of anything except do not get lapped so I push hard and continue on. I don’t remember the middle laps but only that I can see the leader coming out of the pack and the pack on the opposite side of the track with 5 laps to go. Just get me to the line ahead of the pack is all I am working for. On the last lap, the lone rider passes me and crosses the line but I finish just a short distance behind her. The field is about 150 meters behind me. I did it. I did not loose my points and come in 5th.
And this 5th place also places me 5th in the Omnium. A nice additional surprise.
12 Lap Scratch: 10th
10 Lap Snowball: 5th