Race Report submitted by Chad Dexter.
“Hey! All you folks up there…know that you’re gonna look silly when we all back here pass you here shortly….we’re coming after you…we’re gonna catch ya’…no pressure!” This is what the guy next to me is barking up toward the start line as 90+ Cat 2 racers crowd in for the start of the 18th annual Barking Spider Bash mountain bike race. Wow, smack talk like this is something I’ve never heard before at the start of a bike race. Usually, folks are pretty quiet, a bit nervous and pretty twitchy. However, for someone who typically tries to sheepishly hide somewhere in the middle at the starting line and then strives to work up toward the front after the gun goes, I’d say this was about as inspiring of a “call up” as I’ll ever experience. So, let’s get this 2012 mountain bike race season underway!
Based out of Boise, Idaho, the Wild Rockies www.wildrockiesracing.com Club is one of Idaho’s premiere bike racing organizations. This club’s annual Barking Spider Bash is so big that it is designated as a qualifying race for USA Cycling XC National Championships. Score a top ten in your age category at the “Spider,” and you’ve punched you ticket to the Nationals in Sun Valley later this summer. No wonder this year’s race had over 240 racers from Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, California, Washington, Montana, and (wow) even Alaska!
This event is held 17 miles south of Nampa, just over the Snake River, at the Hemingway Butte OHV area. This is BLM country, so mountain bikers share this federal land with some our noisiest (ATV’rs) and quietest (cows) partners. I’m pleased to report that both of these groups, while heavy in attendance on Saturday, were equally accommodating and supportive…all in the spirit of multi-use recreation.
The course is a ~9 mile lap that Cat 2s do twice. ~900′ of elevation gain each lap. The route is mainly double-track, with plenty of places to pass (and be passed). The area is very windy, so it’s also very dry. There are a thousand shrubs for every tree in the region. Scratch that…there are no trees in the region. In other words, a perfect location if you’re gonna host a MTB race in April.
Rolling out at the start, I wasn’t too worried about trying to shoot off to the front early. First, this race has chip timing. Second, trying to squeeze in w/90 other racers thru a 12′, gradually declining, track is a good way to end a race season early with a crash. Third, I’d already qualified for Nationals this year. This all stated, it wasn’t 30 seconds in before I started working my way by and around several racers as the climbin’ starts about 0.5 mile in. Working around the initial mini-loop went well, with lots of deep rollers along the way to scrub some of the climbs. Rippin’ along some sandy downhill, a quick right hand turn is your first opportunity to skid out if you hit those breaks too hard. From there, racers head out of the larger loop…where they’re soon greeted by a 2 mile gradual, yet relentless, climb. Just when you think the climbin’ will never stop, you plunge down a descent know in these parts as the “fill-yer-pants” drop and then begin a twisting, turning tunnel of thrills on a mile long trek down the infamous “Skateboard Park”. Bank left. Bank right. Bank left. Bank right. Repeat. Repeat. Going through this wash is a ton of fun &, if you’re a good downhiller, you can really make up some speed. I’m not a good downhiller. Little confidence. Case in point…at one point in the descent, you come across a “Y” in the trail that quickly joins up to one trail…go right or left…doesn’t really matter…just make a decision…quickly, please! My decision was, ultimately, not to decide. This resulted in me turnin’ my front tire in some deep sand & (gracefully mind you) going over my handlebars. As I dusted myself off in a fit of disgust, about a dozen of the riders I’d passed on the climb up sanctimoniously zipped by me…”rider down…rider down…rider down.” Crud! At the end of the “Skateboard Park” there’s a short, yet nasty, steep climb facing you. The fact that you’ve not really been pedalin’ hard for awhile can add injury to this insult pretty quick. As I came upon it, looking up, I saw many of the riders that had just passed me were now walking their bikes up this beast. “‘Ha, I’ve got you now…’ said the spider to the flies!”
The second lap went very well for me. I was able to keep passing racers & only one got by me on the “Skateboad Park” this time around. I finished in 1:28:11. This was better than last year’s 1:31:28 for me, so I’m please with that. 11th out of 30 in my age category (40-49) and 34th out of 84 overall in Cat 2 males. A good start to the race season.http://app.strava.com/rides/6827189
I recommend the Barking Spider Bash to anyone & everyone interested in mountain bike racing. It’s a great early season race. It’s well organized, & the atmosphere is great with so many fellow racers in attendance. Next year, when the Spider sez to the Fly, “come into my parlour,” both pedals into that web…Share