Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hotter 'N Hell Indeed: Wee-Chi-Tah Mountain Bike Race Report

This past weekend was my first ever foray in to the world of mountain bike racing, and although parts of the trip were tedious, I had a serious blast. I traveled the 250ish miles from Austin to Wichita Falls early on a Friday morning (playing half-hookie from work/half working from "home." With my boss's blessing because she's cool!) and arrived not really knowing what to do or what to expect!

I made the decision to upgrade my drive train and install clipless pedals the week of the race, too. Who says you can't try anything new before race day! :/
Obviously I have raced mountain bikes before during my XTERRA races this season, but this race, the Wee-Chi-Tah mountain bike race held in conjunction with the gargantuan Hotter 'N Hell 100 weekend, was my first-ever group start, all-out dirt race where there was no swimming before, no running after, and apparently no luck on my part when it came to things going smoothly.
In my attempts to get to the race I:

1. Found out I owed $10 and had no cash or checkbook, and no friends. My entry was taken care of by Moxie (as vendors, we got a comped spot), who I would be working for the rest of the weekend, but there was no indication from the race that the fee for the USAC license wasn't covered by the comp. I wasn't upset about paying it, I was just flustered when I had to leave and find an ATM to get cash. 

2. I found an ATM at a creepy gas station (Not all Stripes stations are created equal, apparently...) where I also spilled gas on my foot and my brand new Tevas. But, I got some Cheeze-Its and a massive protein bar for lunch to scarf down in the less than an hour's time I had left and was happy.

3. I returned to pay the license fee, only to be tapped on the shoulder by an official and told I had to wear a jersey with sleeves. Again, obviously my fault for not clicking the separate USAC link and reading all of the rules (it'd be helpful for a newbie, though, if things like this were listed in multiple places!). It seriously just didn't occur to me since I'm so used to USAT rules and haven't ridden a USAC event in several years since my short-lived foray in to crit racing back when I had my aluminum road bike.

4. I realized as I was getting ready that I forgot my Garmin, so I had to use cell phone battery juice to record the race with the Strava ap. #firstworldproblems 

The good news is, I definitely knew where to find a jersey in a hurry! The bad news was, after hustling to the Moxie booth at the expo, I realized that I'd have to wear both jerseys since the t-shirt kind don't have bras built in. Womp. 

You can see my second jersey underneath. Hotter 'N Hell, indeed!
 Despite one hangup after another, I kept a positive attitude and was really looking forward to the ride. I got my packet, pinned my number on my left side of my brand new, super cute jersey, loaded up my Infinit and lots of ice, and got ready to go!

My gloves totally matched!

Newly upgraded 1x10 done by me! Matchy-matchy kit also by me.
The ride started by category and in staggered corrals. I found the volunteer with my name on their list to ensure I was in the right group, and chatted with the 10 or so ladies around me while we waited. It was an even mix between total newbies and those who had raced before, and everyone was really nice and quick to cheer each other on. 

When our Women's Cat 3 group took off, it was a sprint out and around to the parking lot, along a field, and to the entrance of the trail. I knew that since most of the race was single-track, it was important to not get stuck behind anyone significantly slower, and I felt we all entered in just the right order. 

The trail itself is incredibly easy compared to the loose rocks, large obstacles, and drops I'm used to in Austin. It was smooth red dirt with lots of long straights, tons of switchbacks, and several fun quick climbs and descents. The hardest part was definitely some of the steeper hills I could tell were designed more for BMX type riding. Almost everyone had to walk those, but while they killed your speed, they certainly weren't too much trouble to go through. There were also lots of really cool features, like suspension bridged, pallet trails both narrow and wide, raised wooden pathways, and sections of pump track.

I had a blast! It was super hot, as our leg started at 2pm and I was in double the jersey, but there was lots of shade and my pack kept my Infinit nice and cold. The trail was challenging enough to keep it interesting, but easy enough that I could push my speed to see what my legs had in them. I did allow one woman to pass me, because I could hear her having to wait for me through the tight turns (I'm still getting used to my 29er and clipless pedals!) but other than that, no women passed me, and I passed many men who started before us. My speed ended being about 8.5mph according to the results, but my Strava said 9mph, so I'll take that. :)

The one-loop, 12 mile race was fun, but I felt like I could have gone longer. I had so much fun and want to check out more races closer to home next season. I'll need to be sharp for the 20 miles required for XTERRA Worlds! I enjoyed breaking out of the multi-sport bubble for a minute and racing a simple, straightforward event where I got to put it all out there. Once I work on my cornering more, I think I'll be pretty competitive in my Cat 3 realm! :)

Finish line photo of the super cute medals
Results were posted quickly on paper taped to the wall in the barn. I ended up 8th overall of 22 women (#7 beat me literally by half a second!) and 2nd in my age group of 4, although I was announced as 1st in my age group since the actual first also won overall female.

AG and Finisher medals- super nice and quality. Loved them!
In the end, although it was a bit of a frazzled day on my part, I'm so glad Moxie afforded me the opportunity to race! It was fun in many ways, and organized by a really nice, caring group of people who love their community trail and appreciate those who come to ride it. I would definitely do it again next year!

Thanks, Moxie, for a fun HHH experience!


  1. Gratz! Our whole group ended up finishing everything they signed up for (Triple Threat) and one placed twice in her age group. I ende dup with a gouge on my leg after the Mtn Bike race, so we got out of there as quick as we could. After the road bike race we had to go rescue our collapsed tents... Anyway, i never had time to visit, so maybe next year!

    1. Thanks Clay! Glad y'all had a great weekend, too, despite the leg. If Moxie returns, I'll be there!