Cross Racing in Idaho. I love Goat Heads…

October 18, 2006 · Print This Article

A Weekend of Wild Cross Racing in Boise!

By Rebecca Gross

There are plenty of things present on this earth which might serve some beneficial purpose, but really would benefit us more if they were not around. Take mosquitoes for example: sure bats and spiders need to eat, and West Nile and malaria need some way to get around, but truly the world would be a better place without them. Goat Head thorns are another one. I had my first experience with the goat head when I moved to Oklahoma and rode a century race down in Texas giving me more flats then I care to remember. I have no one to blame but myself since in my mountain biking mind the grass is as fair game for riding on as is the road surface.

Cross bikes, as we well know do it all. You can go out fast on the road and dive onto a trail; you can run them over obstacles or jump into a passing group ride. They are the jack of all trades and you can’t go wrong. UNLESS you live in Idaho (just relocated, again) where the goat heads are as big as I am. I’ve tried it all, rim strips, slime stuff, extra tubes inside my tires, liners, searching for thorns till I can’t feel my hands, you name it I’ve done it.

My first cross race in Idaho began well. I liked the course and was feeling good. The weather was perfect and the leaves were piled up on the grass like an east coast fall. There were a lot fewer barricades then my previous cross races and a lot more terrain variety; fun stuff! Not having a spare set of wheels, I piled my spare tubes and tire levers next to my car and hoped for the best.

The three girls racing in the women’s division went off with the boys; all the more fun because no matter where I am in the girl’s race I can chase down those poor unsuspecting guys. We went out and I was comfortably in second, Stacy, in front of me is a really strong cross country racer and I wanted to see what damage I could do. The grassy corners were on some pretty nice little hills and I was hanging pretty well till I slipped out and took way too much time trying to untangle myself from the bike.

Finally dislodged and where I could get back on my bike, Stacy had already gained quite a bit on me. I was determined to get back in the game though and I was enjoying the challenge of trying to go fast. So much of the race was cornering, balancing, and avoiding the things I didn’t want to hit or sink into, but the places I actually could open up felt great! I was feeling it, really truly having fun. Even on the hop up out of the sandy beach I kept nailing so hard my rear wheel would come up instead of jumping over like I was trying to do, I had to a laugh.

I came through the start finish, just three laps to go and there it was: flat number one. I rode it through till I came up to my car and jumped off to speed change it through the layer of mud. The rest of the boys and girl I had worked so hard to pursue flew by. But all the more fun right? Then I get to chase them down again!

So two laps to go and second place was seconds in front of me. I was well on my way to administer a thorough butt whipping on the last lap when she disappeared. I wondered if I had misheard and was riding an extra lap. Well, as Alex would say it would be good training regardless so I gunned it out, it was good to put on the show anyway.

I blew through the finish, a bit confused but feeling good about my race, and sure enough, they had told her to stop since she had been lapped. It would have been fun to have to work to catch her and see if I could have accomplished it but regardless, I had a ton of fun. I loaded up the car and upon arriving home, grabbed the bike to bring into the house… There they were: two more flats! I’m averaging a ten pack of tubes a week. Thank god for mail order discounts.

Sunday’s racing was even more fun, but that is another story…


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