On Saturday, April 26, 2008, Amon and I (Maureen) raced the 21st annual Shasta-Lemurian. We both arrived on Friday and did a short pre-ride followed by awesome camping next to WhiskeytownLake. I caravaned with my friends Austin, Celeste, and Katie and my new friends Kevin, Hans, Dave, Amy, and Oscar in Hans’ sweet Sportsmobile. Amon made the trip with Roo in tow.

For most of us, it was our first time racing here. All the veterans described the course as having two huge climbs that were very tough. Well, after racing the course, we definitely agree!! The second climb is by far the worst!

The race featured a mass start with EVERYONE (about 300 riders!). Fortunately there was a lot of road to sort everyone. My goal for the day was to stay with Sarah M. despite how my legs felt. Sarah is a very fast climber and she won the race last year, so I knew this would be a good challenge for me. I held onto Sarah’s wheel on the first climb, aided by her occasional stops to put her chain back on. After a semi-sketchy fire road descent, we turned onto the road and traveled across the dam, much to my delight. Then we hit the flume trails, which were chock-full of twisty-turny fun. There were some serious water crossings with huge boulders, most of which I ran through and enjoyed the cold water on my hot feet. Eventually we got to the dreaded second climb, which was supposedly 4.5 miles long. I was still hanging with Sarah, and I knew I needed to reach the top of this climb ahead of her if I wanted to win. The climb started mellow and fun with some singletrack, followed by a long fire road, and eventually we came to a crazy steep doubletrack with loose dirt and pine needles. Somewhere on the long fire road, I attacked Sarah and pushed myself like never before. Of course, I had no idea what the terrain had in store for me! When I reached the steep doubletrack, I couldn’t believe it! It was tougher than the fabled NapaValley climbs! I ‘ran’ with my bike up the hill (at least it felt like I was running), hoping this was the last of the climbing. I looked down the trail behind me and saw Sarah chasing me! When we finally got done with this section, there was still more climbing! It was interminable and challenged the last bits of strength in my body and mind. Finally I reached the summit and started down. The last miles were pretty fun, with a lot of flowing singletrack. There was one last fire road climb that I was not happy about. Finally I made it to the finish in first place! I couldn’t believe it when someone told me I had obliterated the previous course record by 14 minutes!! After the race we all took a dip in the cold lake. It was refreshing.

Amon’s race started great and he felt strong. He was also appalled at the steepness of that last doubletrack. He was riding in the top 10 until an untimely flat in a rock garden within 1 mile of the finish stopped his progress. He did a quick repair and held on for 14th in Pro Men.

We both really enjoyed the course and felt sufficiently challenged. This is definitely one of the toughest courses I’ve ever ridden.

You can check out Hans’ nice collection of photos here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hanskellner/sets/72157604797912519/

Yeah bike racing! -Maureen