Last July I completed my most epic race, and survived possibly the most epic, and awesome day of my life! Ethan did the Creampuff in 2009 and even though it was taxing and painful, he had enough fun to return to the race, and to convince me to do it. I had very little experience with endurance racing, so I comitted my season to putting in epic rides on the road and mountain, just so I could finish the event. Here’s what I signed up for: 100 miles of riding, 1600 feet of climbing and 1600 feet of descending, 17 miles of which is on the epic singletrack descent down the Alpine Trail. We started the day in the early dusk of morning on a very short stretch of pavement to the initial climb. The first time up the long, winding dirt road climb, I focused on keeping my heart rate in the zone, and tried to remember the advice given to me about seasoned racers about the event- pace yourself! I was stoked with how well stocked the aide stations were and I stopped every time, swapping bottles and grabbing GUs and bananas. At some point on the backside climb before the initial 17 mile descent, I found myself pogo-ing with a group of women and made it my mission to ride within their reach. After passing through the start/ finish for my second lap, I was surprised by how OK I felt at 56 miles in, sweet! Things got a little bit more challenging the second time up the long dirt road climb as temps had reached the mid- 80s and it was hard to drink enough water. I continued to pace myself and swallowed down lots of GUs. I was stoked that my stomach was handling all the sugar ok and relieved to not join the riders who were off the side of the road cramping in pain- ouch! At the top of the climb I was greeted by Ethan smiling and cheering, who had sadly had a mechanical failure and had to pull out of the race. He assured me that I was doing great and gave me the mental boost I needed to climb up the steep backside hill once again! Before hitting up the final descent home, I grabbed my full camelback from Ethan at the feedzone and munched down some bananas. Much to my surprise, I was still riding neck and neck with two other women who I had learned were seasoned CreamPuff riders. Still feeling strong, I pulled away from them on the short punchy climbs and even passed a handful of male riders! By the bottom, I was wiped out and noticed how fatigued my arms and hands were from 17 miles of braking on the hardtail! But, I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, and had a suprisingly fun time on the course. I was stoked to learn that I’d finished at 12 hours, 21 mins- 3rd for Cat 1 Women, and that 2nd place was only 1 minute ahead of me! I met all of my goals- no cramping, no crashing, and a finish within 13 hours, not bad a first timer! The verdict is still out as to whether I will do it again next year, but I will definitely need to head back to Oakridge to hit up the epic single-track! Special thanks to Yuri for his advice, GU for the necessary fuel, and Camelback for the sweet new racing pack!