Powderhorn24 2019

Well that was fun! Did it hurt? OMG yes. Am I really sore and tired today? You betcha! My hands, neck and shoulders hurt, my big toes are numb, I think it’s going to be a few days before I can even think about sitting on my bike let alone riding it. I finished 4th solo women. It was a 3-way tie for first. Two of the first place women were friends riding together. I didn’t officially meet any of them but I think I crossed paths with at least one of them who cut it terribly close going through a busy intersection.

So, about the race. Powderhorn is modeled after a race in Milwaukee and I met two guys who had done the Milwaukee race last weekend and were riding in Powderhorn. Crazy! They said they did Milwaukee as part of a team and they were 20-somethings so that explains things.

Powderhorn is a 24-hour race. The course is about a 5-mile circuit on open roads with four checkpoints on the course. You have to get your manifest punched at each one for your lap to count. You get one point for each lap. The race starts at 7 pm Friday and ends at 7 pm Saturday.

Beginning at 8 the first vacation stop opened. They stay open for 2 hours. Vacation stops are extra point activity stops off the main course. In the past they were worth 2 points each but this year they could be worth as much as 100 points but we didn’t know what the point value was until after the stop closed. There were 18 total vacation stops. Activities at the stops are things like karaoke, a dance party, a bean bag toss, and yoga.

My favorite vacation stop was Saturday afternoon. We had to take our shoes off and stand in a kiddy pool full of cold water and toss a frisbee into a basket. It was hot, my feet were killing me and that cold water felt sooo good! It took me 5 tries to get the frisbee in the basket but I cannot say I minded all that much! My second favorite stop was sunrise yoga. It felt good to have a little stretch only there were so many people at the stop I didn’t get a mat and had to do yoga in the grass. Came away with a rash on my legs and a few mosquito bites.

The race was called an hour early due to a sudden and unexpected thunderstorm and torrential downpour. The roads were flooding and it was really hard to even see. I somehow managed two laps in the deluge before they pulled us all off the course.

This was the second time I have done the race. I had everything prepped on Thursday so I didn’t have to worry about anything Friday. Friday I got up at my usual time (5 am) and had a relaxing morning mostly reading a book. After an early lunch, I spent the next four hours trying to nap. I managed to sleep a little but it was mostly laying on my bed trying not to think about the race. Got up and had delicious barley porridge for dinner. Then it was time to go.

My husband volunteered to run checkpoint 2 and had to be there at 5:30. I didn’t have to be there until 6:30 but because we only have one car I got to arrive early. I found a shady spot against a wall and hung out with my eyes closed.

There were over 500 people riding and the first lap is a slow roll group ride that very quickly broke apart at the first traffic light. The group ride is not required but since this is a community ride I thought it would be good to do. However, if I do the race again next year, I am going to skip the group ride lap since I ended up far back in the group so lots of people had already started racing before I even finished the group ride lap.

Each manifest card records 10 laps, about 50 miles not including vacation stops. So every time I finished a card I would use the bathroom, put on more chamois cream and have a snack in addition to what I was eating on the bike. My on bike snacks were carrot cake balls and black bean brownie balls. My extra snacks were oatmeal twice, peanut butter and banana wrapped in a flour tortilla, and some barley that was left from dinner. I also had an unplanned cold apple in the middle of the afternoon, grape popsicle, coffee shots at one of the vacation stops, and late on Saturday an iced mocha.

During the night it was humid and temperatures were in the mid to upper 60s. During the day it was more humid and temperatures were in the upper 80s, close to 90. When the thunderstorm hit, temps plunged into the mid 60s in a matter of minutes. So while during the hot afternoon I had been looking forward to a cold shower when it was all over, I ended up taking a hot shower because I got so cold I was shivering uncontrollably!

For hydration I had a bottle of electrolytes and a bottle of plain water. I refilled my bottles about every 5-6 laps at one of the checkpoints.

Mentally I did pretty well. I got frustrated a few times at vacation stops having to wait for what seemed like a long time before I could do the activity or if the people running the stop seemed to be a little disorganized. But I tried to focus on having fun doing the activity instead of worrying about “wasting time,” which made things overall more enjoyable. About 4 on Saturday when I was completely exhausted and everything hurt and the thoughts of “you should just quit, you don’t have to do this” started creeping in, I turned them all away with some positive self-talk. At 5, when it started raining, I didn’t even think about quitting, my mind was too focused on trying to remember where all the now invisible potholes were and trying to avoid the worst of the flooded places. When I pulled up to the lap-end checkpoint and they told me they were stopping the race and took my manifest away from me I was a mixture of disappointed and relieved.

Things I learned:

  • Riding with a 28mm back tire was a great decision. Last year I had a 25mm tire on the back. The slightly bigger tire was much more comfortable.

  • No amount of chamois cream will keep the pain away.

  • Changing your kit in a tiny portable toilet after 13 hours of riding is not easy to do but it feels good afterwards for about 10 minutes.

  • Dancing on a concrete floor in bike shoes is harder than dancing in high heels.

  • I came in second last year and really wanted to win this year. When it became clear I was not going to catch the leaders, I was disappointed at first and had a brief moment of wanting to quit because what was the point to keep suffering if it was going to be for nothing? But then I remembered my other goal was to have fun so I made it a point to start chatting with people, other riders, the volunteers at the checkpoints, laughing and joking at the vacation stops. Everyone was so nice and so encouraging and I did have fun! While it would have been awesome to win, having fun turned out to be the more important goal of the two.

Will I do Powderhorn again next year? Ask me in a couple months when I don’t hurt anymore and the memory of the pain has faded :smiley:


What a great report Stefanie- thanks for taking the time to write it! Wow, this is such a hard event- physically and mentally. CONGRATS on the amazing result! There were more women in that race than any of the races around here.

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Thanks @Coach_Theia! All the coaching definitely helped! One of the last stops was a mini cross course and it went up a steep grassy hill. I didn’t think I could make it up but I churned up that hill like nobody’s business. I was happily surprised! Yay VO2 and low cadence!

I think because it is advertised as a community event, more people, including women, show up for it than would if it were advertised as a race. And after chatting with a bunch of people, most stop to take a nap at some point for at least 30-60 minutes. I guess it is only the truly crazy who stay up and keep going the entire 24 hours!:grin:


Wow! What an incredible, insane ride! Thank you for sharing your story. Enjoy your rest the next dew days!


@Stefanie that was totally amazing. You used everything you had. What a great race report. I hope you have enjoyed tour rest today.
You must be so proud of yourself for that accomplishment.


You are awesome @Stefanie and should be so very proud of yourself for doing this event again. And even more proud for having the mental strength and determination to reset your goals and keep going.
I kept an eye on you via the link you sent and saw that two women seemed to be lapping together… in my opinion that is not riding solo and therefore should be discounted from the results - so congrats on your 2nd place :kissing_heart:


Thanks @NUGirl, @Gossimrr and @Michelle! Recovery is going along faster than I expected. Still a little stiff and sore but I can walk up the stairs at work and it just feels like I did a really hard VO2 workout.

There are three short but steep-ish hills on the course that come nearly one after the other. The third one is right after a stop at a busy intersection. I took the opportunity to stand while going up that one a number of times early on and I’d hum “moves like Jagger” and once when I was alone I actually “sang” out loud because I was still charged up after the karaoke vacation stop :grin: In the last few hours there was no singing or humming, just a lot of “ugh, hill, so we meet again! You will not beat me today!”


Congratulations Stefanie!!! That’s an incredible accomplishment and you should be very proud of yourself. Loved reading your race report!


What a cool sounding event! Sounds like you did what you set out to do which is awesome. I agree that the 2 girls working together weren’t technically “riding solo”.


Thanks @Covi and @stacypro!

It is a really cool event Stacy. It’s 100% organized and run by volunteers. A real community effort. And people who live along the main route come out and cheer on the riders, offer lemonade, watermelon, and other snacks. And during the heat of the afternoon kids with big water guns or hoses will ask you if you want to be squirted and if you say yes, they happily shoot you with cold water as you ride by :laughing:


Way to go @Stefanie! What a great summary of the ride. Having to stop often must make it hard to stay in the race mentally.
Once again, you did a wonderful job!

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Thanks @Petals! All the stopping does make it hard to get into any kind of groove. But then that’s all part of the challenge too :slight_smile:

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@Stefanie i thought i sent this already but it doesnt always seem to work if i try to reply from email
Huge congrats girl!!! You did awesome!!

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Thanks @PaleGail!

Congrats Stephanie!!!
enjoyed reading the report, and tho I never did a 24 hr ride, I know from doing marathons, even the few organized 50mile bike rides I do , gotta have it mentally.
Just to finish is amazing, YOU ROCK!!!

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Thanks @sherry! I have really learned a lot about myself and how to handle exhaustion and the unexpected by doing this ride. When I started cycling four years ago I just wanted to be able to do a century :laughing: