Friendliest Crowd?

A few weeks ago, after a mountain bike race, Chris and I were chatting about which group of racers is the friendliest among the running/cycling/swimming crowd. The reason we started talking about it is the mountain bike crowd is always SO friendly, not only at our local club races but at the ones we’ve traveled to. The offroad triathlons are all amazingly friendly and supportive, as well.

Warning: I am about to stereotype and generalize. I know there are friendly crowds at all types of events and unfriendly crowds at others, but overall, here’s our list of the individual endurance events we have experience with:

Most Friendly Participants/Crowd
1. Mountain Bike Races
2. Offroad Triathlons/Duathlons
3. Cyclocross Races
4. Running Races (road/trail/cross country seem similar)
5. Swim Meets
6. Road Cycling Races
7. Road Triathlons
Least Friendly Participants/Crowd

The attitude around the off-road events is just completely different. You can feel it in the transition/staging area. The road triathletes are SO SERIOUS. Yesterday’s race made me realize that the kids’ races are the about the same ranking as far as the friendly non-nutso parent continuum.

I’m sure some of you will chime in with examples of events near the bottom of my list which were very friendly, and we’ve experienced those too. But overall, that is our list of events that are consistently friendlier than others.

What do you think? Which running/cycling/swimming events are the friendliest?


Yesterday I went a bit crazy in workout land, which is totally unlike me. First off, I ran the Oregon Trail Days Rugged River 5k Run.

I don’t know how you all take pics during races because this is what mine look like:

I will just say that the run was tough! The first mile or so was on roads. We started in a farmer’s field (really) and ran maybe 3/4 mile to the entrance of the park. Here are some pics I took on the shuttle back to the car:

Race start (told you it was a farm field).

Then, we ran through the campground area of the park, where they had their Oregon Trail Days festival set up. It’s not every day you run through tepees.

But then we hit this gravel road that went down, fast. You couldn’t even carry speed with the gravity of the descent because the footing was so uneven. I said to this woman near me, “I hope we don’t run up that!” to which she replied that what we’d run up would be worse. She was right. We ran along the river for a bit, which was a pretty nice single-track trail, and then we went UP. Here’s a picture I snagged off the internet. We started at the top, then ran down by the river (like close enough to touch it), then we ran up and past that statue. And then up a little more. It was so steep in parts!

Here we are after the race:

Then, Lori and I went mountain biking. I didn’t take many pictures because mountain biking takes 100% concentration for me, but here’s a picture I took on our break, in one of the prettiest spots.

Here’s our route! We went about 7.5 miles.

And then, because a race & 80 minutes of biking wasn’t enough, I joined our running group for the long run (part of the half marathon training plan). I had already run 3 in the a.m., so I dropped out at about 5.5 miles (they ran 8).

I felt great during the run, but I’m so sore today! I’m not sure if it was the biking, the crash I took during biking, or just excessive exercise, but today is definitely a rest day!

Perceived vs. Real Exertion: Running & Cycling

I took Evan mountain biking today. He’d rather go with his dad, but I’m more his speed. Actually, he’s faster than me, but we’re closer at least.

We rode at Illiniwek Forest Preserve in Hampton. The parking lot is pretty close to the level of the Mississippi River, but the trail itself is on a huge bluff overlooking the river. When you start, you climb the bluff to access the trails that loop around the top of it. One of the nice benefits of well-designed trails is they would never go straight up a steep hill. This would lead to erosion and a trail that would be hard (or impossible) to maintain. Instead, trails zig-zag up the side. The bluff is parallel to the river here, so you can see that we don’t ever go straight up. The long sections parallel to the road are the climbs; the loopy parts are actually on top of the bluff.

There are formulas trail designers follow, such as this one: “trail grade, or steepness, shouldn’t exceed half the grade, or steepness, of the hillside; and the 10 Percent Rule: overall trail grade should be 10 percent or less.” (from I love the environment more than most people, but I’m not going to lie–the nicest part of a well-planned trail system is that it is much  more enjoyable to ride! There aren’t as many sharp turns, the flow is better, and the climbs aren’t so steep. That being said, climbing even a low grade for several hundred feet is pretty tiring on trail.

As I hit the top of the bluff the first time, my thighs were screaming and even my triceps were burning. I felt as if I could not push it any harder. It felt SO HARD. However, when I looked at my Garmin, my heart rate was only in the high 140’s. You can see that in my Garmin data, my max HR for this ride was only 153 and my average was 125.

In comparison, here’s a run I did during the week. It was a pretty flat course. I didn’t push it. I never felt uncomfortable. For this “normal” run, my max HR was 165 and my average was 157.

How is it possible that my heart was working so much harder while running yet I FELT as if I was working so much harder on the bike? I did some Googling and found that it’s normal for biking heart rates to be lower. It’s also normal to recover more quickly from biking. A 3-hour bike ride is not a big deal when compared to a 3-hour run that sucks the life right out of you for the rest of the day. I’ve always felt biking to be less of a workout than running, but my question is why did it FEEL so much harder? Was it because I am not used to using those thigh muscles to power up a hill? Why did I perceive that workout to be so tough when my body really wasn’t maxed out?

I don’t have an answer to my questions. Maybe you do. Do you feel you have a good perception of your workout intensity? Obviously you would need a time split or a heart rate monitor to verify this. Do you think biking feels harder than it truly is for your body?

I’ll leave you with this cell shot I took of a view from the top of the bluff. There’s the mighty Mississippi with lock and dam #14 (I think) off to the right of the frame.