Beti Bike Bash from the Inside

Photo Credit: Jendz Photography

My Beti Bike Bash: Race, Don’t Podium, Repeat. Why I Love to Race Even Though I Never Win.

My friends are amazed I race. It’s not that I race expert or that I always win. It’s that I don’t win. And I’m no expert. I’ve never won or been on the podium. Except once. Last year I placed first in my category at a race held at the Valmont Bike Park. O.K. So I was the only woman in my category. Oh well. It’s still the podium I guess. I think people think you have to win or at least come close to winning to want to race. That’s sort of like only trying things (like marriage, having kids, a new job,) if you think you’ll be good at it or be the best. Wow. Our country would go to hell in a hand basket if everyone operated that way.

The Beti Bike Bash was the brain child of Amy Thomas, team member/manager of the Yeti Beti’s. The race is designed to encourage women who love to ride on dirt to try racing. On the website for the race it says, “Race does not have to be a four letter word.” It is the only all women’s mountain bike race in Colorado (and we think in the country). Last Sunday, 252 women crossed the finish line and Amy figures that about 30% of those women were first timers. Of course there was pure awesomeness in the pro race; Heather Irmiger, Chloe Woodruff, Erin Huck, among others, but the beginner group was huge and I saw a lot of regular shorts (read no Lycra), t-shirts and tennis shoes on the starting line. It was a perfect day for racing with the air being a bit crisp and blue skies overhead. On the starting line, women rubbed their bare arms for warmth, tried to settle their nerves and said things like, “What was I thinking?”

But you might be asking yourself why does she race if she never wins (or even comes close to it)? I’m never going to be a professional mountain biker. I may never get to the podium and I routinely get my butt handed to me at short track racing. The reason I do it is simple. Because I can. Or as I like to say, “Because I get to.” My mom had a stroke at the ripe old age of 49 (sarcasm) that left her in a wheelchair until her death from ovarian cancer at 58. I’m 43 and 5/6th. What if that’s my future? What if these are the healthiest and strongest days of my life? What if? None of us knows what’s coming up or what’s around the corner. What if you go out and try a race and you don’t win and you never get close to the bee-hinds of the women who climb up on the podium. Who cares? You shouldn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to win and I’d love to finally beat so and so out at short track. But if I never do, it doesn’t mean I’m not good. It just means someone is better than me. Racing is not for everyone. But for those of you are thinking about trying it, what are you waiting for? Tick tock. Tick tock.

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So good to read this! Thank you, 303, for posting it. I love the Beti Bash and was very sad to have to miss it this year.

When I got into cycling, it was a huge mystery to me as to why there wasn't a larger contingency of people racing just because they can and because the atmosphere at big organized events is FUN. My dad was a runner, so my childhood was filled with following him to races all over Texas. Sometimes he won his age group, sometimes he didn't. He just loved having a goal, running long distances and experiencing the awesome energy of a crowd, a new course and pushing himself toward a personal best.

Now, running has exploded with people entering races for the reasons my dad ran. The culture is embracing the true, cotton t-shirt and basketball-shorts-clad beginner runners. The cycling culture doesn't seem to have that attitude, and I'm really not sure why. I realize that with small turnouts and backcountry singletrack that makes sharing a trail and passing difficult, race promoters may not have the resources to keep courses open all day or have novices and pros peacefully coexist on the trails.

Still, I wish Cheri's attitude was more pervasive (and more accepted). If anyone is considering trying racing, I recommend getting a group of friends together and entering a 12/18-hour race. Last year, the Beti Bash gave me enough confidence to try the 18 Hours of Fruita with a few coworkers. We ended up 15th of 17th in our category, but to heck with that! We had an absolute blast and the atmosphere was waaaay more laid back than any race I've ever been to.

Thanks again for writing this!

5 out of 6

I did my first stroke and stride tonight Cheri. Guess what! I got 5th place - out of 6. :) So your words helped me remember that I was doing it for the challenge for myself. And believe me, it was a challenge just to complete it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about racing and participating. It's good to get out of our comfort zone. Love, C