The Bailey Hundo — a new 100-mile mountain-bike race out of Bailey, Colo. — didn’t really favor Sonya Looney’s style.
Aside from being an endurance race.
“I tend to do pretty well on technical courses, and ones that have more singletrack and less road,” said Looney, of Boulder.
The Bailey Hundo had a lot of road — so much that Looney’s time, 8 hours and 19 minutes, was her fastest for a 100-mile race. That time also put her in 28th place for all competitors — male and female.
Here’s Looney’s take on riding a hardtail for 100 miles, self-talk in the last miles and how she got the big bruise on her shoulder.
Q: What is the course like?
A: It’s a mixture between road and singletrack. The singletrack is really fun and fast.
This course, you could almost ride it on a rigid, with no suspension.
Q: So did you ride a different bike?
A: I rode my hardtail. I’d never ridden my hardtail for 100 miles before, so I was a little nervous about that.
The Bailey Hundo had about 14,000 feet of elevation gain. So to have a lightweight bike, even a few pounds, makes a huge difference.
Q: Sounds like the course didn’t cater to your style, but you won, anyway.
A: Some of the big dogs were not there. And I was having a good day that day.
I wasn’t really stressed out at the start line, either. Eszter (Horanyi) was there, but she was on her singlespeed. Had she had gears, I would’ve been really stressed out, because I think it would have been really close.
If she turns up at a race, I definitely notice. It means I have to be on my game.
Q: What’s tougher in a 100-mile race: the physical or the mental?
A: I think it’s the mental.
…You think, ‘I have to ride my bike for like eight more hours?’ It freaks you out a little bit. So you have to ride from aid station to aid station basically, break it up in your head.
Q: How did the race go down?
A: I usually am really conservative with how I start races. But I decided I can’t do that anymore, because they have a mass start, and I get stuck behind people on the singletrack and then waste energy passing them…
I tried to go hard off the start, and I rode with the guys, I tried to hang onto the back of that pack as long as I could.
That start allowed me to put a gap on a lot of the field…I got passed at the end by a couple of guys because I crashed, but overall, I was happy with that.
Q: You crashed?
A: The only type of issue I had, mechanical or body, was I hit a tree. I took a corner too hard, and I hit my shoulder really hard (around mile 40)… I have a pretty awesome looking bruise from it.
Most people crash at the end, because it’s so much road, and it was hot. About mile 85, I started to fall apart a little bit for sure.
Q: So what did you tell yourself at the end to hang in there?
A: I said, ‘You have to finish strong, you can’t give up!’… If I find myself saying something negative, I say, ‘have fun.’
With one mile to go, they threw in a hike-a-bike section. It wasn’t long, it’s just a steep uphill. One of the guys I was riding with said, ‘this is just cruel,’ he was mad. It was funny.
It hurt, but I thought it was funny.