“If you’re not first, you’re last” was the unfortunate reality of my race at the 2016 Battle The Bear. I entered a field of two – first, or last. The other rider in my category is someone that I have battled very closely with, neck-and-neck, on several occasions in the past. Frustrating and seemingly never ending games of leapfrog could describe our history together.
Last fall and this spring I have slowed down my rides a bit and spent a little more time focusing on my technique and confidence on the bike. Battle The Bear is a course that isn’t entirely physical or technical, but for a confident rider that is comfortable with high speeds, it is a course that allows for a steady high tempo pace where momentum is your friend. Compared to last year I rode the course significantly faster and was able to drop my opponent early on and ultimately finish almost twenty minutes ahead of her.
While I will continue to train and try to improve my fitness, I’m attributing my success at Battle The Bear to the improvements I have made in my confidence and technique through high-speed descents and smooth, fast turns. The fun part!!
Each lap at Battle The Bear includes about four short climbs, a shallow water crossing, a few high speed narrow descents and a lot of smooth, fast, flowy single track. There are very few technical sections and much of the dirt is uncharacteristically tacky by Denver standards. The course is tight and gives little room to re-hydrate or pass other riders, but it gives a great change of scenery and feel when compared to other Front Range trails. This race has a very welcoming atmosphere and sees a large variety of skill and experience levels among the racers. Battle The Bear is a great race for beginners and a race that I will look forward to every year, especially early season when the climbs still feel longer than they did the previous year.