Ooh you and me we got big reputations, ah
And you heard about me, ooh
I got some big enemies
Big reputation, big reputation
Ooh you and me would be a big conversation, ah
And I heard about you, ooh
You like the bad ones too
I think the Bike Doctor Sheduro was probably the race I looked forward to the most this season. I spent a lot time thinking about the EWS Continental finale in Burke before nationals highlighted my gross underpreparation, but those thoughts were mostly filled with dread. By the time Frank and I found each other after our race at nationals, one of our first conversations was about our mutual desire to quietly abandon our Burke plans and let go of that sense of dread. On the other hand, I had some initial confusion a few months ago as to why my friend Patrick was posting about a women’s-only enduro on Facebook when I saw “Sheduro” in the event name. However, I soon realized that it was not the word “She” that was the beginning of the portmanteau, but “Shed”, as in the Frederick Water Shed, and frankly, that made it more appealing.
|I was apparently bad at being in pictures this weekend. I was actually inside the truck at this point, because the back was just a little bit full.|
I had heard from one of the instructors at the TakeAim women’s clinic a couple of years ago who was from Frederick that the place was full of nice rocky downhill trails. As I continued on to race in the WV enduro series, I talked to a lot more people from area and heard similar stories. We met Patrick last year, and though he’s moved from Frederick to Reading, PA this season, he still has plenty of Shed love to go around. Based on its reputation, we’d been wanting to check out The Shed for a while, so when we heard that there would be a race there, we were really excited.
There was the small problem of the race’s proximity to our bike park trip, and while sometimes the solution to #FOMO is to just accept missing things, sometimes you just have to do both things and accept that it will be less than ideal. I admittedly began to doubt that strategy as we began our pre-ride on Saturday, which was my first time pedaling a bike for more than the distance from the car to the lift in 13 days. We rode the first two stages, which were very XC-oriented, and I started to feel sick from the heat and humidity, as well as my body just forgetting how to pedal a bike. I figured that if Stages 3 and 4 were like the first two, riding them blind wouldn’t hurt me too much, because I wasn’t going to do well on them, anyway. We headed over to Stage 5 where we would be picked up by a shuttle afterward.
Stage 5 was awesome, and it was what I had been imagining when I looked forward to the race. It was steep and rocky, and like 5-10% harder than Wildcat and Old Laurel. You know, fun zone. There was also a three-foot drop with no go around, but instead of my usual obsessing, I walked up to the lip, told myself that I had landed safely from much higher/further/faster while jumping at Thunder Mountain earlier in the week, and rode off it perfectly the first time. Unfortunately, the two-second video proof isn’t that great, but to actually land a real drop on a race course was sort of a huge breakthrough for me.
The race itself was kind of meh for me. Stage 1 started with that, “Oh crap, I guess I’m racing now,” feeling as bumbled through the first few muddy turns. Then a kid caught and passed me, and I found my rhythm and started to reel him back, which was pretty fun. Stage 2 was very tight and twisty with lots of muddy rocks, and I kept hitting bad lines and having to get off and run. That was not as fun.
I hadn’t ridden Stage 3, but I was kind of dreading it, because I heard there was either a big climb or two climbs, depending on who was recalling it. This actually worked out because it turned out to be not as bad as I was imagining. What was actually surprising was when the course took a hard left through a crack between two large rocks, and I had to pause to decide if that was really supposed to be the course or not. It was, and it led into a short, techy section to finish the stage, which was actually pretty fun. They ended up throwing out the times for that stage, and based on the amount of pedaling, I was not even a little sad about that.
“Stage 5” or, Creampie as it is officially known, was for the open classes only, so it was originally supposed to be last. The morning of the race, they told the open classes to just head straight to Creampie from the end of Stage 3 and then pick up Stage 4 last. This made the sport and open classes split off in different directions after Stage 3, but the volunteers were good at directing us. I think the change made our course easier, because the race was originally billed as 16 miles and about 2000 feet of climbing, but what I actually ended up with was 12 miles and about 1600 feet of climbing. I certainly wasn’t going to complain about that in my current state of fitness.
My race run of Creampie was okay, but not great. I hit the drop, although I don’t think I had enough speed after the rock roll that came right before it, and I buzzed myself with my rear tire so badly that I still have a red mark on the inside of my thigh two days later. Although I’m sure it looked terrible, it was still a victory in its own right, because not only did I actually do a drop during a race, I did it badly and still rode it out without crashing. All the nightmare scenarios that I imagine will happen when I ride off drops are getting less and less powerful because I'm starting to gather proof that I actually have the skills to correct imperfect landings.
The other part of the run that concerned me was near the middle, where the low line to the left looked easier but was a bad set up for the subsequent steep rocky chute. I took the wrong line in both of my practice runs, and while I got into the right line during my race run, I got nervous and didn’t ride it out. That was my one big disappointment, because I think I could have been like a minute faster if I’d had a chance to successfully hit that line in practice. The final stage was pedally in the middle, but the second half was fun, and I wish had pre-ridden it so that I could have gone faster.
|Two Linds*y's enter a podium. Only one leaves with money. Second and fourth had already left.|
In the end, I got third out of four in the open women, and had the second-best women's time on Creampie. Lindsey Carpenter still beat me by 1:43 on that stage, but she is basically fast on everything always, so I don’t feel that bad. My other stage times all kind of sucked, and more than half the sport women beat me on those, but they had probably ridden those trails more than I had. When it was all said and done, I just had to be happy that I managed not-last in my own category, and that I had finally landed a drop during a race.
For this first edition of the Sheduro, I think that there were logistical challenges in finding a place big enough for all of the racers to park and/or getting enough shuttles to take everyone back to the parking area, and that was part of the reason that there were more XC trails included instead of the gnarlier downhill runs. As I understand it, more Creampie-style trails would have resulted in either a lot more climbing or the need for a lot more shuttles, but hopefully they can figure out a way to include more of these next year. I’m sure that I’m not the only one willing to suffer more climbing for more gnar.