Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Karen's Race Report on MudFest 2009: aka Coolest 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race in Northern California, May 2-3

Ideal Race Conditions? You decide:
* Pounding rain, nearly non-stop, for 3 days solid while we raced mountain bikes day and night
* Getting drenched setting up and breaking down camp
* Slipping and sliding through puddles to soggy tents and portapotties
* Pedaling through mud thick as peanut butter, clay-like slop clogging our gears, sticking to our bike frames, clothes and faces
* Conditions so extreme that the 24-hour mountain bike race was cut short by organizers - ending at 10 a.m. instead of noon on Sunday. Whew!
* 18 of us plus two big dogs huddled under two pop-up tents with plastic walls and roof threatening to cave in due to water weight
* A chaotic jumble of muddy bikes, wet shoes, cooking gear, trash and chairs squished around us
* Did I mention no showers were available onsite?

Scroll down for my friend's photo links.
My pictures are now posted here:

Though nearly blinded by mud spattering my contact lenses, I am still smiling because I actually like mud! This photo was snapped after I completed one lap of the looping course, which was about 12 miles long with 1700-feet of climbing. (A lot of uphill!)
Photo credit: Dan Abernethy

Go Go Go Girls Spirit x 2 Prevailed
Despite the wicked weather and grueling physical conditions of the race, our Girl Power spirit shined beneath the dark skies: wonderful costumes, camp decorations and yummy food of the Go Go Go Girls brightened our moods.

Who were the 18 people at our campsite?
For starters, we fielded two teams, 4-women each: 8 gals
Go Go Go Girls
Karen, Henri, Tracy and Jen
Go Go Go Girlz
Rita, Kate, Lindsey and Jill

* Victory! We came in first and second place in our division! Girlz won! And yes, there were only two teams in our division!

In Cleaner Times
My 3 teammates for the Coolest 24 are pictured here with me at New Year's Party, 2009.
From left: Jen Lucia of Santa Cruz, Henri Stern of Pacific Grove, (Winona Hubbard of Santa Cruz; the founder of the Go Go Go Girls team did not race due to injury), me and Tracy Moyle of Monterey.

Other Racers at our Camp
We were also lucky to share camp with 24-hour soloist rider Melanie Dominguez, as well as Erik Thunstrom, 8-hour soloist, and his son, Derek Thunstrom, all of Santa Cruz.

Support Crew from Heaven
What really kept us racers going was the amazing support crew of Dan Abernethy of Santa Cruz and Pat Schott. I had invited them and thankfully, they traveled to the race solely to support us women! Pat drove 12 hours from Ketchum, Idaho, for the weekend. We also had many helping hands from Alex, (Winona's hubby who raced 8-hour solo); Tom, (Henri's hubby) and Erik (raced 8 hour solo) and Derek. Lindsey's friend Kate also pitched in.

Coolest Support Crew: Dan Abernethy, left, of Santa Cruz, and Pat Schott, right, in red, of Ketchum, Idaho, came solely as support for the G-Girls. Thanks, guys! Erik, center, also helped out when he was not busy winning his 8-hour solo race divsion - and a prize of a track bike!
Photo Credit: Karen Kefauver.

As I write this on Tuesday, I am still recovering from the weekend here in Sacramento at my friend Hank's house in Citrus Heights. Luckily, my job is portable and Hank is very generous.

The view from the back after my first lap of the race - I rode just two laps total (24 very hilly miles in the mud was plenty!) Photo credit: Dan Abernethy.

Keep reading for PHOTO LINKS from friends, below.

About the G Girls
For the past two years, I have been part of a women's mountain bike relay race called Go Go Go Girls, which was founded by my friend Winona, a talented cyclist with great enthusiasm and charisma. We have competed at 24 Hours of Adrenalin at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, (about an hour south of Santa Cruz). Both years ('07 and '08), our team of 5 women placed third in our relay division (team members varied year to year). This spring, we decided to try a new event in Northern California - The Coolest 24-Hour Race, which raises funds for cancer. We doubled our forces by forming two teams, then caravaned 4 hours north to a mountain town called, Cool, which is east of Sacramento. What a wild adventure it turned out to be!

COMING SOON: The scoop on my 24-mile race report (2 laps), lost car key chaos and other major mishaps - on my next blog post!

Henrietta is still beaming after her first lap in the mud at the Cool Race.
Photo Credit: Karen Kefauver.

Photo links from Coolest 24 Hour Race:
1. Check out these Extreme Mud photos!
Santa Cruz friends Winona took these pictures and her husband, Alex who raced solo at the 8-hour event, posted them on Picasa.

2. Alex, a trail pal from the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, pointed out the thread of comments about the Cool race on the MTBR forum. He raced the 8-hour solo event.

3. My pics: http://www.pbase.com/karenkefauver/coolest_24_hours_2009

Alex Anderson is barely recognizable after his first lap!

Favorite Quotes about the Race
I read through the comments on the MTBR website forum and excerpted my favorite quotes:

"The people who did race are bad-asses."
"Absolute mudfest."
"My bike is not talking to me right now."
"It was the worst of times and the best of times," Keith Bontrager, Santa Cruz resident and mountain bike legend
"Amen to single speeds and liquor."
"What. A. Mess."
"I did one lap then changed my strategy to drink enough not to be able to do another lap."

And finally:

"Holy cow! What a mess, we all have the swine flu for sure now. I only did 2 laps and was so cold and miserable, glasses were useless - eyes were destroyed and bike was making very odd sounds. Decided to pull the plug and get a beer. Best decision of my life."