Sunday, May 4, 2014

MTB: Mud Sweat & Beers 2014


I participated in my first mountain bike race yesterday! Almost a year ago, I heard about a race that's "a ton of fun and great for beginners" so I decided I was going to go for it..

It's called Mud Sweat and Beers and it's an annual race held in picturesque Traverse City, Michigan. There are two adult races: the Stout is 22 miles long, and the Pale Ale tops out at 12 miles. Seeing a theme? Bikers love their beer! There are even two races for the little ones: a two-miler called the Ginger Ale and the Root Beer, a quarter-mile loop for tiny ones. If you ever need a dose of adorable, go watch the Root Beer race - it will make your heart melt into puddles.


When I first signed up, I thought it was an actual possibility that I might do the Stout. Man, am I glad my past-self came to her senses! I competed in the Pale Ale instead.12 miles may not seem like much, but MSB lived up to her name...it was EXTREMELY muddy. I'm talking about trying to ride through six inches of pure monsoon muck in some places. It was brutal.


This was the view while we were waiting for our group to go. Beginners start last, so I had plenty of time to stand around and let my anxiety build. Thankfully, you only have one first race, right?!


Despite the cold and rainy weather, everyone was in good spirits. I might be biased, but I have found bikers to be one of the most welcoming communities. I've never met a rider that's stingy with a smile or a helping hand. 


And we're off! I'm the fifth (or sixth?) helmet from the left. My group consisted of beginner female individual and team riders ranging from 14 to 45+. The route begins on Mt. Holiday and winds around single-track trails, paved connectors through nearby neighborhoods and on to the Vasa Pathway before returning to Mt. Holiday.

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The MSB finish line is immediately preceded by the impressive Fitbit Mud Pit. I was relieved to make it through on two wheels. Not everyone was so lucky.


I completed the race in a little under two hours and immediately celebrated with a cold brew from Right Brain Brewery....and a shower!

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