A guest post by Cortney Bloomer
After seeing the Sept. 1 post about the race on BikeCarson.com, I decided it would be fun to head up to Spooner and compete in the Great Tahoe Flume Race. I used to do a good bit of mountain bike racing “back East” in West Virginia where I lived before moving to Carson City a year and a half ago. I haven’t done any racing lately, but this seemed like a good excuse to get out and try a new trail and enjoy the weather, and eat cheeseburgers at the post-race bar-b-que.
I was a little nervous signing up for the race, because most (ok, all) of the riding I have been doing lately has been at lunch with the Jeff and Company up in Ash Canyon. Great riding, but the farthest I have been is about 12 miles, and the race was 18 miles, thus the concern that I would be able to finish. But, the Lunch Guys assured me that I would be fine, so off I went.
I arrived at Spooner about an hour before the 9:00 race start to get registered and do a little warm-up riding. The registration was done ahead of time online, so it didn’t take long to sign the waiver and get my race shirt. Then, all I had to do was wait for the start, which seemed like forever. I was racing in the Sport Women class, so we started at 9:03 after the Pros, Experts, and Sport Men had already taken off.
The race started with a 4-mile climb up to the saddle above Marlette Lake. Lots of climbing right off the bat! I felt strong on this climb, but that would not last the whole race. Next, the course dropped down around Marlette Lake and onto the famous Flume Trail. People keep telling me the view from the Flume trail is nice, but I wouldn’t know because I didn’t have time to stop and look. There were other riders on my tail, and I was pedaling as fast as I could in the big chain ring. It was probably for the best, because I may have fainted if I had time to look over the edge to Lake Tahoe. Since I was riding in the big chain ring, my legs had little chance to recover before making the next climb up Tunnel Creek Road. This was no good, because I hit a rock and spun my tires during the climb, but I was too tired to correct the bike and I had to get off. I got passed by 2 people. Bummer. But it was for the best, because while I was stopped, I had a snack, which gave me some extra energy for the next climb. At the top of Tunnel Creek was a water stop, but since I had plenty of water in my CamelBak, I just poured a cup of water over my head. Refreshing.
I wish someone would have told me that there was a sandy DOWNHILL of DOOM coming up, because I am not very good at riding in the sand, and my bike was fish-tailing all over the place. This downhill to the Red House Flume was the scariest part of the course. I rode VERY conservatively down this hill because I did not want to wreck.
Jeff warned me during our lunch ride on Friday about Sunflower Hill. He told me that it seems that you are at the top, but that it keeps going. He was right. This climb seemed as though it would never end! It was a good opportunity to use my climbing skills though, and I was able to pass 3 people in this section. Hurrah! I was very happy when I got to the top. From there, it was just one more downhill, and then the climb back to the saddle above Marlette Lake. After 2 hrs and 24 minutes, I was finished, and I even got 2nd place in my category.
Since the race finished at the top of the hill, not back at the parking lot, we had an easy 4 mile cruise back down the hill, where hotdogs and cheeseburgers awaited the arrival of hungry racers. I had both. And a brownie. To wrap up the day, there were awards, both for the race and for the overall Nevada Cup series. Then there was a raffle. I think everyone that stuck around won a prize of some sort.
Overall, my impression of this was that it was a very well-put together event. The course was challenging, but not impossible, and was very well-marked with arrows and streamers all along the route. Also, course marshals were stationed at every intersection to help and give directions if necessary. Thanks to the Reno Wheelmen for organizing it. This race was a fund-raiser for the Bike Patrol, thanks to them as well for keeping the trails safe for users. Hopefully this is the end of a long hiatus for this race. Can’t wait for next year!
Full results can be found on this PDF from the Reno Wheelmen’s site HERE. (Thank you for finding the link, Scott!)
I couldn’t find a name to credit the photography, but I found the photos HERE. (Thanks for the photo tip, Dusty!)