On Saturday, October 25, 2014, I participated in the female-centered bike/run event out in Summerlin (Northwest Greater Las Vegas pretty much). It was called “Goldilocks” by event organizer Brooksee. I’ve never done an organized ride other than a group ride through a local Meetup group (Biking Henderson, which is made up of a great group of supportive riders who accept with open arms all skill levels and share their experience in return – the group is run by the husband and wife team of Ryan and Gayle) so I was nervous about being in a crowd of cyclists even in what was deemed by the organizers as a “noncompetitive event.”
We had packet pickup the day before, the window of time was between 4pm to 8pm out where the event was to be held which can be good as far as finding your way the next day but not great for driving in rush hour traffic to the other side of town when you’re heading out there the next morning anyway. A minor gripe but only because we had the school trunk or treat to get back to at home and were juggling timing. My husband drove me and the kids to packet pickup so they could have the outing and we arrived at about 3:30pm. I helped with a few boxes at registration and the kids got to meet “baby bear” (yes, everything had a Goldilocks story theme). R was enthralled by the large bear mask and E kept saying “I think that is a person!” so I reminded her it was like Santa where we don’t tell people something is pretend lest we ruin their surprise. Teachable moment and whatnot.
There were no course or other details in the packet when we did get to registration – I was assigned a rider number and given a gift style bag with some fliers for sponsors and some lip gloss as well as an event-themed water bottle. The official shirt was a tech tee with a cycling pocket at back in a bright pink color (see part of it on the image below). I had sized one up but would have sized two sizes up if I’d known how snug the shirt was. They said you could swap for another size the next day but I wasn’t going to haul the shirt around when I had plenty of gear as it was. Still, nice to know if you’re debating registering and participating after reading my review/recap.
The 50K riders were the last to start so I was able to hit the road out to Summerlin at about 7am for my anticipated 8:30am start time. When I parked I got to chatting with a group of really nice ladies from Utah that were getting their bikes and gear ready. They’d done a Goldilocks event out near Salt Lake City earlier this year and seemed to love the experience. At that point I spied Gayle, one of the organizers of the meetup group I’m in for cycling, on her signature pink bike. When I say pink, I mean not just for the event pink, but always pink, down to her tires. For the occasion, however, she sported a pink tutu to match and it made me feel at ease to see her. I got to meet her sister and her sister and I hung out a bit before it was time to get started on the course.
When I registered you could create a team to get a discount, so couponer that I am at heart, I created a team called “Spoketacular.” A bit Halloween, a bit cycling, a bit girl power all rolled into one. A friend signed on with me, Michelle, and though we only knew each other via email and Facebook (we were introduced a while back by a mutual friend), I felt like I already knew her. We were both going to ride our own race so to speak though we did see each other once or twice out on the course after we started.
I’ve seen a lot of people say they liked the signage on the course and I’ll just say that I was glad I had made an effort to memorize the course from the web map before we started because there were several points where I saw people go the wrong way or misunderstand a sign that I would have easily misunderstood similarly if I didn’t have the directions on my mind. I’ve ridden from Blue Diamond into Summerlin, which was the latter part of the course, but getting out there from our starting line took a couple turns and even some roundabouts.
The advertising for the race called it “fully supported” but there was one aid station fairly early and then nothing for quite some time. The traffic was something to contend with as well, a lot of construction on the route that made it tricky going for a bit since some of the riders didn’t have experience with riding etiquette. I don’t mean that as a jab or anything, and I am not seasoned by any means, but there are things I’ve been able to learn from riding with small groups that came in handy for me. For example, when you are coming to pass someone, you announce “on your left” or “on your right” so that they know you’re coming and don’t make a sudden swerve. If you see a problem on the road you yell it out, like “car back,” or “rocks” so others can avoid them. I made a point to say thank you to everyone that followed good practice by announcing their presence, it just helped keep us all safe. Someone mentioned that for Pedal to the Medal (another cycling event) they gave a little primer on etiquette right before the race so everyone was on the same page. That’d be something I’d suggest for Goldilocks as well.
Oh, and on the subject of aid stations, I stopped 3 miles before the second station for my first (and only) break and later learned that the aid station I bypassed after my break was out of water when people were reaching it. I don’t know that information first hand but hopefully no one relied solely on the stations for their water if that was actually the case! A main aid station feature were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – I avoid nut butters just for peace of mind with E’s allergies and could see that if she ever does a cycling or running event she’ll just have to be vigilant as usual about bringing her own food and water.
The first 14 miles went by at a great pace, I managed them in an hour, but the rest involved a lot of inclined road. By the Blue Diamond turn I knew the course well and that if I just kept pushing along I would get the glorious downhill to make up some of my time. Still, being rusty on my training the last few months meant that my uphill pace was 6 miles per hour if I was lucky, and I know when I’m more on my game I am capable of 7 miles per hour or more so it does give me an official time/pace to beat. But when all was said and done, I made it through without injury, major discomfort, or incident, which was nice. I did miss the usual guys I ride a portion of that route with, it was strange not to see my husband, JR, and Sam (to name a few) waiting for me at the top of hills.
I finally made it to the point where I knew the downhill was coming when I saw a Honda Pilot go by. For a split second I thought it looked like our car but shook the thought away since my husband and I had agreed the day before that he wasn’t going to bring the kids out. They had swimming and other activities to keep them busy and there was no reason to waste the gas. What I spied at the top of the hill, though, made me so incredibly happy – my husband and the kids were waving and cheering me on. It was such a rush to see them and to hear “go mommy!” They drove ahead and stopped another time before heading ahead of me to the finish (where they were given the cutest pink bells to ring by organizers).
My official time was 3:05:53.9 (link) per the timing chip for 50K, here’s a screenshot of the GPS data:
I think the GPS deducted non-moving time which would be the break I took. My usual average just on the portion of the map from Blue Diamond to Summerlin and back is 12 mph so I feel good about my average yesterday. Plus, it gives me something to beat on the “official” side of things since when I do the usual route we get to stop for coffee midway and rest for a bit.
They don’t do finisher’s medals for Goldilocks, they do necklaces! (They also have free event photos, I haven’t seen mine yet but that is another nice perk.) Then you can purchase additional charms but I didn’t know when I bought my charm that I needed them to use pliers to add them, I assumed they would just slip on. Just a tip, I think the volunteers were eating lunch when I purchased my charm or they would have mentioned it to me. The funniest thing to me was that at the finish they had performers from male revue show on the strip presenting the necklaces. It took me a minute to figure that out! In the interim, he said something about riding like the wind but what I heard was a question about win conditions on the course so I rambled about the cross winds up by Blue Diamond (they were worse than a headwind) while another part of my mind read his shirt, thought about the Australian accent, and understood that the last thing he wanted to hear about was the condition of the course. Oops. Very nice of the guys from “Thunder from Down Under” to come out for the event, though!
Michelle and I chatted for a bit after the ride (she posted a great time!) and she got to meet my husband and the kids. Her kids had been at the race start so I’d met them earlier, she has such a sweet family. I love how being outdoors for things like running or riding brings people together. You get to forget about deadlines and conflict for a little while and just keep moving forward. My husband and the kids took me out to lunch at Jason’s Deli and we had a wonderful rest of the day. They were serving food at the finish line but I didn’t try any though at the start I did have a banana from the food tent. On the ride itself I had water and a Gu energy gel (caffeine plus sugar, essentially). Normally for this distance I would (and should) manage nutrition better but I had some nervousness that makes me not crazy about eating. So it is always a mix of listening to your body and keeping in mind that it does need some fuel. And also, sometimes you have to stop when the lactic acid in your muscles is getting to be too much (the one stop I did make was very necessary and helped a lot in that regard).
I have pangs sometimes where I miss running but ever since the Hoover Dam half marathon last December my right knee just hasn’t played along with running. I do think the 5k distance is still something I’ve got in me with the right prep but cycling leaves me a lot less wrecked and is simply more fun through the whole process. When you get to the top of a tough hill on a bike you get to feel the wind in your face as you go downhill at 30 mph while the reward for reaching the top as a runner is not as exhilarating.
I would absolutely do the event again – I think the vibe was upbeat and friendly, the volunteers were great, and riding a route I largely had done many times was a huge plus. I had to chuckle at the fact that more than one person complimented my jersey as they passed – not that I haven’t complimented men on their jerseys before but I don’t think they feel comfortable doing the same to me. I was going to wear a new one I’d found but at the last moment wanted to wear my first bike jersey. I told my husband later it was my lucky jersey because it had gone the Blue Diamond route but then he reminded me it was also my torn jersey from my bike crash on the River Mountain Loop Trail. He’s technically correct that I have an odd definition of lucky, but the reminder of crashing my bike was actually useful to me on this ride because I stayed focused, alert, and safe. I also had a lot of fun! Here’s to the fall/winter cycling season and more good rides!