This Sunday was the sixth annual Palos Meltdown. I was so tired and out of it for most of the day on Monday. The race, itself, was an absolute huge success. The race has grown steadily most years. In 2010, we had nearly 500 racers. Last year, with rain a good chunk of the day before and a small amount of rain the day of the race, we had almost the exact same number. This year, we had more that actually pre-registered. Both race director Ben Jenkins and CAMBr-Palos president Burak Balkuv mentioned we were going to max out. The first few years of the race, we did actually have a maximum amount of allowed racers per the Cook County Forest Preserve District, so that is what I kept thinking they were referring to. Nope. We had 800 number plates and were terrifyingly close to running out of numbers. More than 750 racers. 750+ racers!!! That means we grew by 50 frigging percent.
I took the top photo while Cook County president Toni Preckwinkle was speaking, right before the start of the novice race. I found out Friday afternoon she would be attending when Ben asked me to do a press release. I revised the initial release I did and sent it out to more than 180 newspaper, TV and radio media contacts. To tell the truth, I figured it wouldn't get much notice since it was going out on a Friday afternoon. Then, I heard that we had a bunch of TV crews there. = )
(Christopher rockin' the finish of the kids' race)
Saturday morning, I led a small group of ladies on a lap of the race course. I stopped several times to point out things such as keeping your butt back and braking steadily on Bad Ass Hill, etc. We stopped at the first two ravines to scope out lines, get tips and practice going through the ravines. I was beat after the ride but several of the ladies rode the ravines for the first time, which was very cool. Even cooler was when Sandra Samman came over to the LIB tent after her race. She was one of those that rode the ravines for the first time on Saturday morning. She had won the women's novice race. = )
Jacquelyn Felt won the women's sport overall -- after taking a multi-hour licensing exam that morning. She was also at the women's ride -- She is a good rider and already knew how to ride the ravines but I'm hoping the pre-ride helped a little. = ) Annette Stahelin finished 9th overall in sport!!! And, Laurie Chipps was only a few spots behind in 13th.
After the ride, I met up with Anna -- who had gotten lost and missed the start of the ride. I got her pedals on my Ferrous, adjusted the seat height and filled up her water bottle before she went out with Jacquelyn for a ride. Thanks, Jacquelyn!
I grabbed lunch at Tastee-Freez and then helped out with race set up. You can see some of my work with the fencing to the right of the starters. = ) I left right before the rain started coming down.
Sunday morning, I was out of the house at 7 a.m. I got to the race and saw my tent was already set up. = ) I set up my tables, LIB banner, got out brochures, etc. There was food for volunteers. I saw donuts and had a total craving for vegan donuts. I improvised with a pita, grape jelly and sugar. Not a good substitute. I also chowed down on some PB&J's. A little too much chowing down.
I spoke to people about the race, the League of Illinois Bicyclists, mountain biking, ladies rides, etc. I had a some people sign up for LIB's e-newsletter/alerts but no memberships. I changed and thought that I was really tired already. I started warming up and thought that my legs were sore. But, as I finished warming up my legs started coming around. I knew there would be a lot of fast ladies out there and was setting my goal as trying to stay as close to Rachael as possible.
The kids race saw something around 70 kids line up. It was crazy. We should have probably been prepared for that, considering the huge amount of racers. They'll be some changes for next year -- possibly bringing back the shorter lap race to give another option besides the free kids race or the much, much longer novice race. We'll also likely have some way for people to pre-register their kids for the race. I helped cheer Christopher on and then downed a chocolate gel and headed on down to my race. As I rolled down, the expert guys were going off. Crap.
We started and it was bad but I was not last. I even moved up a couple of spots by the end of Turf. But, the food and gel were not sitting great with me and I could tell the long days were not helping my racing ability. On One Day, Betsy was right behind me -- talking to me in a conversational voice while I was breathing heavy. Crap. Betsy and another rider passed me at the start of the climbing at Gravity Cavity. Patty passed me right after climbing up the grass hill.
(Photo credit: Northwest Mountain Bike)
I realized that now put me in last place. Ugh. And, unfortunately, that is how I finished. I felt like I rode really good technically, for the most part -- including not breaking for the ravines. = ) And, I felt like I rode stronger than I had the year before. But, DFL. Tom came up to me right after the finish and I told him to go away. I soft pedaled a little bit, to lick my wounds and tell myself to HTFU. It kind of worked. I came back, apologized to Tom and heard from Christopher "Mommy, there are people over there that know you." Yep, there were a lot of people there that knew his mommy. It was so great to have people cheering me on throughout the course. = )
I socialized a bit and actually got a medal for third place in my age group. I definitely didn't feel worthy of a medal but it was still great to stand on the podium for my local race and a race I worked hard to help be successful.
Christopher did more riding that day than he may ever have. He kept wanting to ride down the grass hill, which does not look nearly as steep in this photo.
Final numbers are not in for what CAMBr raised from the event. There were a record number of entries as well as some raffle ticket sales and shirt sales but there were also county permit fees, porta potties, number plates, timing chips, food for volunteers, official fees, etc. Stan said funds will likely be used to buy equipment for trail building and maintenance, such as another motorized wheel barrow and something for berming the trails (I can't remember the exact wording as I spoke with him right before heading out for a ride). Some will also likely be used for lunches for volunteers during trail days.
This Saturday, I'll be leading a Bike & Dine in Lockport, which should be fun. On Sunday, I'll be heading to the Peoria area to race at Wildlife Prairie State Park. Eight-mile loops of mostly single-track, which should also be fun. The best part, though, will likely be the ability to just show up, ride some of the course, warm up and race and let someone else worry about all the other stuff. = )