Bogus Bonsai Downhill Race, Boise, ID

October 18, 2006 · Print This Article

Bogus Bonsai Downhill Race, Boise, ID

By Rebecca Gross

Sunday dawned cold, and with no cross race today, I decided to tackle the Bogus Bonsai downhill race started 16 miles above Boise down to the center of town. Only because I’m slightly nuts, I elected to do the single speed race that included six more miles of not downhill.

A few years back, in the good old college days, I built a single speed bike at the urging or my three guy roommates. What a new world this opened up! Single speeding is one of the purest forms of riding, the bike is light, no gears to complicate things and that little bit of extra pre-thought to keeping momentum for the climbs does wonders for your mountain biking with gears. If you haven’t done so, give it a shot!

So I built an old frame up to ride back east but once I moved to Oklahoma the flat was too much and I couldn’t pedal at all. So I used another frame from a previous year of racing and built up another bike with a more difficult gear. This bike is the one I have now and apparently I forgot it was for flat land riding when I opted to climb up four ski slopes in this supposed downhill race.

Listening to the banter of all the guys at the start line “yeah I’m on this gear, or I though these 29er wheels would be better, or check out this new superlight frame I got!” I started to listen in on the gear part of the conversation beginning to remember what mine was (I don’t pay much attention to technical stuff like numbers!). I began to realize all their bikes had easier gears on them than mine did and began to get that nag of worry.

A break in the chatter opened up and I threw in my two cents “hey I’m on a 32-18.” Silence… They all looked at me like I was nuts and then realized what I was saying (yes women can speak the lingo too!) and their gazes turned into measured awe. “That’s a two to one ratio!” one threw in. “That’s more then any of us have!” said another. I didn’t know what to say, “well it is gonna hurt anyway so I thought I could at least make it look good.” They nodded in agreement and shortly after we were off.

Pretty soon I was not so happily pushing the bike up hills I could only wonder why the rocks were not rolling down; wishing I maybe could at least see the girls in front of me all of which were my age when I was BORN. Six miles of walking later I was cruising with the tail end of the racers with gears going down the hill, forgetting the thorough beating I was receiving by encouraging the other women and trying to offer pointers on handling and cornering.

For the good show I put on running up the hills, most of those people with gears wizzed by later on the down as I hit the other end of the single speed spectrum, not enough gear to pedal and spinning out. I coasted the rest of the way, pedaled when I could and went to give my props to the three women who smoked me down, first and second place women being 50 and 49. The speed that comes with age! Something to look forward to!

So my last minute decision to race the single speed race proved fun, earned me A LOT of respect with the local guys, and reemphasized the ever present lesson that pre-riding is so important in deciding factor how to race a race or what equipment to use. Most importantly though it got me further involved into the local cycling community when I am still feeling out, letting me meet more people and letting no one forget who I am: the Velo Bella chick in the pink and purple who rode a gear harder than all the boys!


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