Thursday, December 28, 2006

12 Hours of Razorback - 2005

I got home Tuesday afternoon from the Florida road trip. Overall, it was a great trip with some good solid riding. At the 12 Hours of Razorback, Tinker Juarez won the overall for solo category with 13 laps. I did 10 laps at 10 mile per lap. I could have done an 11th lap but I flatted on the 10th lap (or something like that) and missed the cut off time. I ended up 27th overall out of 125+ solo entrants. The Trip-------------We departed Cleveland at 3:00pm on Thursday ready for our 1,000 mile trip to Reddick, Florida (near Ocala in the central part of the state). The Honda Element was loaded up with my 2 bikes and all the gear you need for a long road trip and a 12-hour mountain bike race. Most importantly I had a travel companion, my dad Russ, who has both the ability and desire to drive long hours with limited sleep. Thanks Dad. Shannon and my mom were nice enough to make us some food for the trip…sandwiches, pasta salad and other assorted goodies. Thanks Shannon and Mom. On Thursday, we drove for 10 hours until we got tired and then stopped to get a motel room just north of Charlotte, NC. Friday morning I was feeling amazingly good…I may not be Lance Armstrong but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express Thursday night. We were on the road Friday morning by 7:00am and arrived at Razorback MTB Park at around 4:00pm. Just enough time to set up our pit area and pre-ride the course. We set up camp right next to Team Cannondale’s Tinker Juarez, a former Olympian and 24 Hour racing god. Friday I pre-rode 7 miles of the 10-mile course. My pre-ride confirmed that this was going to be a tough race. The course had been shortened to 10 miles this year by removing some of the flat double track. The course now consisted on 10 miles of grueling and technical single track. All single track all the time. The course, being located in an abandoned rock quarry, had lots of steep shoots followed by short steep uphill sections. Remember kids…momentum is your friend. There were only 3 or 4 climbs, none that were all that long, but they were all single track and very technical with rocks, roots, etc. The Course -------------------First of all, the course was marked with mile markers. Initially, I though this was good but as the race wore on, the markers, if you let them, could be deflating to your resolve. Mile 1 of the course consisted of some flat sections followed by traversing several times an 8-foot deep gully. Up on side, down the other. In and out, in and out…reminded me of the section at Beans Bike Park. Mile 2 was pretty tough lots of up and down sections ending with a short steep climb. Memories of miles 3, 4 and 5 have been temporarily suppressed due to extreme fatigue. The memories may come back with years of therapy buy it won’t be pretty. Miles 6 and 7 were pretty flat to slightly downhill with some high-speed twisty single track through the pine forest. All big ring stuff for the first 4-5 laps, but discretion prevailed and I spun a smaller gear thereafter in hopes of avoiding “blowing up.” This 2-mile section was the only time I could get my heart rate below 135. Mile 8 was the toughest, with 2 climbs, much technical up and down riding and a ridiculously fast and rough downhill that in the event of a crash would have been my final resting place. Mile 8 also had a tricky little off camber climb that required a burst each lap to stay on the high line. I walked it once and it nearly killed me. Miles 9 and 10 were not too bad. Mile 9 had the longest climb, a steep tricky section with loose limestone shavings that required a steady tempo. The Race ----------------The race started ½ hour late a 10:30m with a ¼ mile run on a hard packed service road. Jumped on the bike and off we go. On the first lap I realized I had not worn my hear rate monitor, which meant I could not rely on the monitor to regulate my effort. So I listened to my body and went faster when I felt good and slowed down when I felt I was pushing too hard. I put it on after lap 7. The fastest laps by the 4 person expert team were in the 43-44 minute range. I held steady at 53-56 minutes for the first 4-5 laps. In fact, I completed my first 7 laps in 7 hours cumulative time (including pit stops). After 7 laps I took about a 30 minute break to eat, put my lights on, put on arm warmers, leg warmers and a vest (Friday night it got down to 30 degrees). I was feeling good…11 or 12 laps seemed within reach. Lap 8 felt pretty good. During Lap 9 several negative thoughts started to cross my mind such as “I am not having fun right now”, “I am tired of riding this f*&%$ course”, “9 laps is respectable.” Towards the end of lap 9 I started to feel a little better and was encouraged. I finished lap 9 at 8:10pm and had to stop to change my light battery. In hindsight, this is where I made a few mistakes. Mistake#1-I should have eaten a lot of food or taken something to eat with me. Mistake #2-I should have consumed mass quantities of caffeine or some other over the counter stimulant. Mistake #3-I sat around for 15-20 minutes because I knew the cutoff time was 9:50pm and that the most total laps I would get would be 11 (2 more). I should have quickly switched my light battery, ate some more food, put some energy bars in my pockets and gotten back on the trail ASAP. I started lap 10 at 8:30pm full of positive thoughts and feeling good. I was taking it easy, but was feeling kind of listless. Experts and sport riders alike were now passing me like I was an AARP member at Wal-Mart. That sucking sound you hear is positive thoughts leaving my body. But I went slower…and slower….and slower. I began to wish I had put one of those Powerbars in my jersey pocket. I even began look for food on the trail…”I wonder if there is any gel in that used packet along the trail,” I thought to myself. And to no avail, I even resorted to begging for food from other racers as they blew by me. I gulped down all my energy drink hoping a few calories would help. It did, as I eventually picked up the pace around mile 5…then I pinch flatted and any hope of making the cutoff time (and an 11th lap) disappeared. Unfortunately, I only discovered the pinch flat after low tire pressure caused my front end to wash out around a 15 mph right turn. All in all a good race for me. The course was challenging but did allow for some time to recover. Only fell twice. I ended up with 10 laps for 100 miles good for 27th overall in the solo class out of 125 entrants. Except for the flat on the last lap, the bike worked flawlessly. The bad news is that I left another lap or two out there at Razorback, but the good news is I feel great, did not wreck myself and got in some super base miles that should help me the rest of the season. In fact, I rode for 30 minutes on Sunday (to the beer store) and did a 2.5 hour 25 mile ride on the single speed at Santos Trails on Monday. This trip showed me that Florida has more to offer than beaches, bikinis and warm weather...mountain bike riding and racing.

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