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