Story by Hannah Brewer.
Coming in to 2x12, I had spent very little time on my mountain bike and I knew this may be a problem for a long, rocky course. The great thing about racing sport is that every lap is either your first lap or your last lap. With that in mind, I knew I'd be fine!!! (Assuming no bear encounters or face plants).
Racing Big Bear 2x12 in 2012 is when I fell in love with racing mountain bikes. This was the first time I felt fast, fierce, and high on life all at the same time - while completing a workout. The rocks, the single track evergreen section, the loose gravel steep downhill, and the challenging climb at mile 9 gave me every bit of challenge, joy, and sense of accomplishment I could ever dream of on a mountain bike. The fact that I only ride this course once (ok, technically twice) a year but know every inch of the course in my mind makes me love it even more.
2014 at 2x 12 was rough - I raced expert and had bike trouble so the stress of walking my bike and then riding the remaining laps on a friend's bike made it hard to love the ride. And the Bear....Love that bear!
2015 at 2x 12 was equally rough when the course was a MUD FEST and I face planted while chickening out of a totally rideable rock section and sported a black eye for 3 weeks. The plus side? The golf ball sized shiner landed me a free cheeseburger and free coffee (on separate occasions) and I checked out OK at Urgent Care.
2016 at 2x12: I promise, all i'm asking for is no bear, no faceplants, and can I have a working bike, please? The weather was looking good and in favor of a DRY 2x12. These trails dry ARE A BLAST. It was going to be a good day. (Dry race. Not dry after party;) - okay, it was going to be a great day!
Mike agreed to ride the first lap (Thank you. No hill. No crowd).
The hard part about riding second is the waiting game. As I waited for my teammate to come in on the first lap, the time kept ticking, ticking, ticking. And the one thing every relay-style race has in common is that the waiting sucks. It just does. As Mike's "possible fastest time passed", I waited. Then his "predicted time" passed. I waited.... As I waited for his "possible slower time," my thoughts changed to: Flat? Bike trouble? Just taking it easy? Getting older and slower ;) ?
Then word began to trickle in that a rider went down hard. A fellow mountain biker, and friend, had broken his hip. As concern struck the race corral, I automatically knew that Mike had stopped to help. There was a 99% chance, NO -- there was a 100% chance that if any rider needed medical assistance on the trail at any time that Mike was there. Mike was attending to the rider. Although I had not officially heard that Mike was helping, I felt a sense of calm come over me, knowing he was doing the right thing and remembering that what's important one minute can change in an instant. When one second your thoughts are "ride fast: podium: Strava PR: let's do this" and the next second your thoughts are instant prayers for the injured rider, thoughts of gratitude for the compassion of the entire cycling community, and feeling proud that your teammate was helping another rider, a genuine gratefulness for a healthy body and the ability to simply ride mountain bikes and enjoy nature becomes your focus -- not racing or winning.
After more time had passed, Alice Vernon reported back that Mike and one other guy were with the injured rider. Soon after this was confirmed, the race director sent me out for my first lap, knowing that Mike had stopped to help until EMS arrived. As I started my ride, I soaked in the nature, appreciated every rock I safely rode over, and quickly started to feel as alive and happy on the trails as I did in 2012. I rode clean and smooth and simply enjoyed every moment of my time on the trail.
Mike set up a hammock for sleeping between laps. And YES it was so comfy I had to set up an alarm to make sure I didn't miss my next lap.
As the day progressed, my race-minded self started to resurface, and I saw our team starting to make up some of the lost time. Team Fat Tire Co had a rough day with flats, and this helped put Mike and I back in the game. I rode clean on my second lap, and was thrilled that this was the first time at 2x12 that I rode everything on every lap. No walking, no crashes, no bears, no bike problems, just gliding over rocks and spinning up hills.
At the end of the day, we landed a 2nd place co-ed sport podium finish, unofficially changed our 2x12 team name to "Ag3r Pale and Scrawny" (seriously who's paler, me or Mike?!?! and who's scrawny arm is that in race photos, mine or Mikes?!?!), ate burritos, and reconfirmed how much we love racing mountain bikes.
To show our 100% dedication to dirt (and since no roadies were there to advise otherwise) we may or may not have worn the camo kits on the podium. 😂
Racing isn't always about racing. It's about enjoying every moment of the ride.
(Okay, the racing part is fun too).