I traveled to Tipton, Kansas this weekend for the Cruise the Blues Mountain Bike Race. This is the seventh year they’ve held this event. I’ve read about this ride and it’s been on my “wish list” for a couple of years, so I was excited to finally be able to attend. They have two race categories, the “Joy” and the “Glory”. The Joy course is 6 miles in length and the Glory course is 15 miles. The Glory course is more for serious racers and they compete for cash prizes. The Glory riders ride the Joy course plus an extra 9 mile loop. Each category is then broken down between solo riders and teams. Those subcategories are further broken down by gender and age groups. I entered the Joy Solo Women’s 31-50 age category. The race started at 11:00 AM. The object was to ride as many laps on your course as possible in 5 hours. As long as you started your final lap by 4:00 PM, you were allowed to finish that lap. You were also allowed to rest in the pit area between laps as long as you wanted, but your rest time was added to your total. The temperature got into the low 90’s and it was very windy with gusts up to 30 mph.
The first lap was frustrating because it was so congested until everybody got spread out. I had to make a lot of quick stops to avoid running into riders who suddenly stopped ahead of me. You also had to be courteous and try to get out of the way so the faster racers could pass. Everybody was really friendly and I think every single person who passed me had words of encouragement. One guy even patted me on the back as he passed me telling me, “Good job, way to go!”. I got a lot of encouragement, because I got passed a lot. The course was not too difficult technically. There was only one spot I never did ride down. It was a big drop off with huge tree roots and I decided it was better to walk my bike down that obstacle. There were some smaller stair step type drops that I was able to ride and a few narrow bridges constructed of pallets. I liked the sections in the trees along the creeks the best. Part of the course was out in the open in a pasture. It was the toughest part for me because there was a lot of climbing on that section. There were a lot of people walking, pushing their bikes on that part of the course. I saw more people pushing towards the end of the day and riders trying to stretch out cramps. I was fortunate that my body cooperated and I managed to keep the cramps at bay by consuming pickles and pickle juice each time I ended a lap. I also drank quite a bit of gatorade and tons of water. I ended up with four laps and that was enough to win first place in my category. It was my first bike race of any type and I was happy with my results. Deb entered the Joy Solo Women’s 51-90 age category. She took a few spills (has several new bruises) and had a close encounter with a tree before getting a flat tire. She finished her first lap by pushing her bike in with the flat. She decided that was enough fun and sat in a lawn chair in the shade watching riders come into the timing area.They had primitive outdoor showers set up……..it was surprising how good cold water can feel. They also served a wonderful barbecue dinner in the evening after the race. The “Doghouse Daddies” (blues band from Kansas City) performed after dinner. We were also entertained by a “costume parade” on bikes and bicycle musical chairs. The musical chairs game was really funny. Twelve riders rode junker and kid’s bikes around a circle drive while the band played. When the band stopped, they dismounted, usually throwing their bike and ran for a chair. These events were made more entertaining due to the fact that most of the participants had been consuming alcohol. This was really well organized and sponsored. They sold raffle tickets and gave away three bikes plus lots of bike related merchandise. If you’ve ever wanted to try a mountain bike race, I would highly recommend this ride.