Babes in Bikeland IV – a race report
Who: 228 women racers, a whole ton of men volunteering at the stops, at the start, at the finish, and an amazing suite of sponsors (check out http://www.babesinbikeland.com/ to see the enormous list of sponsors!). And let us not forget the fabulous organizers: Chelsea and Kayla.
What: Babes in Bikeland IV
Where: Minneapolis, MN
When: 18 Sept 2010
Why: Because this is a race for women who simply love to ride bikes to women who love to kick ass on bikes and all the women in between….
228 Racers gathered behind the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, MN Saturday evening, the 18th of September 2010. A few dozen were vying for position at the front, to make a great escape from the mass start… and I was one of them. I had ants in my pants, and I was going for the win. I moved three times before I found a position I was happy with – next to one of the eventual tied-for-third place finishers, Amy C and my friend Nicole W. (who was struck by the evil lung virus of fall 2010 and ready to race anyway).
My planned route had me cruising down 2nd to race through campus to the E River Road to the first stop: the stairs at the intersection of E River Road and Franklin Avenue. It was an uphill start, and I was racing Cash Money, one of Eric Noren’s personal Peacock Groove bicycles, which was geared fairly high (54x17). So, I opted for a run up the hill followed by a cyclocross mount. Still, the uphill start was tough with that gearing, and two women pulled in front of me. Amy C. and Jana S. both had gears, so they had an advantage at the start. Upon arriving at campus, I jumped a curb and went behind one of the dorms, cyclocrossing it along a little path in the grass to hit the U of MN ped bridge. I then weaved my way around campus buildings and some post-football fans to emerge on W River Road between Jana and Amy C., and I passed Amy C. at the intersection.
At the top of the stairs, I was instructed to head down the stairs and assured the bike would be guarded… So I lay Cash Money down and started down the stairs, only to feel the pressure of Jana, who’s one serious and fast racer, push me a bit as she ran past me on the stairs. Right, I thought to myself, time crank up my pace and my attitude. Suddenly, she stops … and runs back up the stairs. Amy C and I look at each other confused, but then we continue down the stairs, at the bottom of which we are asked for a ridiculous story about ourselves and our bicycles. I yell out something about this one time, when my bike and I got pregnant and we had a kid together… Done – stamp. Race up the stairs. Shit but this is fun….
A couple of stops later, I made my mistake. I know myself, and I know I need to look at my map at every single stop, to memorize the next few turns and to cement my routing into my brain firmly. At Gluek Park, I failed to do this, and the result was a wrong turn when I should have continued forward. GGGGGGGAAARHGHGHGHGHG!!!!! In the end, I went about one mile out of my way… five blocks before I realized my mistake, and about six or seven to fix it and get back on track. I get to the Trash Bags (Minneapolis messenger bag maker), and Jana is ahead of me. GGGGGGGAAARHGHGHGHGHG!!!!! Ok, I’m totally still having fun, but I’m also ticked off with myself. I mash on the 54x17.
When I get to the ped bridge over by the Walker, I emerge on the wrong side of Hennepin… Quick to fix… Off towards Caffetta, where I am greeted with the instruction to “follow that guy”… Ok – but he’s kind of slow. And we encounter an intersection that I feel is totally “goable” – so I go… and end up with the group in front of me. No big deal – stamp – done.
Head for the Greenway – down to the midtown Freewheel stop, where I am instructed to put on a long skirt and race to one of the bridges and back. I put a purple one on over my helmet… one arm through … run… cyclocross mount… ride to the u-turn, u-turn, dismount, skirt off --- hey – is that how you wear a skirt? a dude asks me… My response? I dunno - I don’t wear skirts. Laughter all around – stamp – done.
The Powderhorn stop was a bit of a trip. We were instructed to ride down a hill, where we had to listen to a story about how women were discouraged from riding bikes etc… Oh yes, we were such fragile creatures back then. We were then given the option of riding or walking up the hill, which was sizeable even from a geared bike’s perspective. Knowing Cash Money would not accept anything but a successful ride up that grassy and steep hill, I ride a wide circle so I can get my momentum up.... and go for it. It was tough to crest that hill, but Cash Money is light and eager for the effort… Then, we make our way to the final stop before racing to Angry Catfish, which was the final stop and the scene of a most excellent after party.
After that final stop, I hit it. We’re in the numbered streets, which are easy for me to navigate… we’re in my neighborhood. I dig deep – finding the 54x17 perfect as I am riding east down 42nd St with a tailwind at my back. I arrive at the Angry Catfish SECOND! WOW! (After a second of SHOOT!!!!!) I’m ecstatic because I did mess up in northeast and I did just have a most excellent time racing the fantastically spry Cash Money and I’m in the TOP FIVE! Mmmmmm – what an excellent night.
I hang out and watch the terrific spring for 3rd, which ended up a tie between two awesomely fast women… I saw the next half dozen race in. But, within minutes, I start to get cold. So, I head home to change into dry clothes, head to my friend’s house to wish her a happy happy 30th birthday, and then return to for the after party. Alicia, who won the race, is ecstatic! The top three rookies (women who’ve never raced) are ecstatic! One of them raced a time trial bike! And the winner of the out-of-town competition – FROM SEATTLE!
SO, if you are in Minneapolis next fall, check it out! This is a super fun race run by a pair of awesome women.
And, I close with a quote:
“After one sweaty Saturday spent racing, I can say that it's this type of organized chaos that makes Minneapolis a beautiful place to be.”
-- REBEKAH RENTZEL, TC DAILY PLANET, September 20, 2010
Well said, Rebekah! Well said!