Bakers Dozen 13 Hour Relay Race
April 17, 2010
I headed out to Leesburg, VA yesterday (April 17th) for the Leesburg Bakers Dozen 13 hour relay race. The event is held on a cow farm whose owner built mountain bike trails that are specifically designed for endurance mtb racing and that are only open on race days and specified pre-ride days.
The race starts at 9 am with a mass start and ends at 10 pm. The farm owner sets up huge bonfires in the cow fields where racers congregate and at 10 pm, 120 pizzas start arriving at the race venue, Dogfish Head Ale distributes beer and a bluegrass band starts playing. In a word: awesome.
I was racing in the co-ed duo category with my long-time endurance racing teammate, Terri Spanogle, whose positive energy has kept us going in long distance races like this one. If you're looking for a teammate, it's best to find someone with a great attitude like Terri. We won this race last year (beating many of the two person male teams) and were looking to repeat our success.
Despite some concerns that it was going to be wet and muddy, Saturday turned out to be cold and dry. The trails were in perfect shape. I was psyched to get in my first race on my new Spark, especially since I had been fitted by Tom Coleman and Ronnie Dean of WobbleNaught (www.wobblenaught.com) - the bike fitting had given me an extra 10% gain in wattage as shown on my SRM and I was looking forward to my first race!
The course is a 6-7 mile loop that's about 90% singletrack, with some areas for passing in open fields. After a chaotic mass start of about 300 people (there were something like 150 solo racers in this event), I entered the first singletrack in 4th place and comfortably rode through the winding trails until the first field section when I set off from the rest of the pack and in chase of one guy who'd attacked out of the start. I caught 1st and rode with him for a bit and we sprinted for the first lap finish (there is a prize for the fastest lap of the day and that's usually the first lap). He pipped me on the line, but I started out for my second lap when many other teams were handing off their timing chips to their second riders. My and Terri's plan was to ride double laps for the start of the race until we got tired, then switch to single laps to keep us moving quickly.
About 5 minutes into the lap, I caught my pedal on a stump of a sapling on the side of the trail. It flipped me up and over my bike and onto the ground; my bike flipping up and over and landing on my head. I was stunned for a few minutes and while I was lying on the ground 4 guys passed me. I got up and rode through the rest of the lap in a daze, eventually finishing in 4th after the lap when I passed off the timing chip to Terri.
I realized after the lap that I'd damaged the rear shock in my fall and, after transferring my bike fit from my Spark, I borrowed a friend's 29er to carry me through the day. My left knee was also pretty banged up, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Terri turned in some fast laps and I was back on the course, passing people and having a great ride. I was able to turn in two fast laps before handing off to Terri. By this time, my knee had started to swell up and it was getting hard to walk. I iced it for a bit and took some ibuprofen.
By the time Terri had completed her two laps, my knee was about 3x its normal size, but I headed out for another two laps because I didn't want to let Terri down or quit. The first lap was a little slow as I was really sore and stiff, but the second lap was much faster. I was able to pedal, while seated, all the hills that had slowed me down last year. The new fit really helped my technique and I was feeling some big performance gains and I made up 7 minutes on the first place team and put another minute on them by the end of my two laps.
After I stopped to hand off the timing chip to Terri, I wasn't able to walk and my knee had swollen to 5x its normal size. The folks who were camping around me recommended that I go to the hospital. They thought I'd put an ice pack under my knee warmers, but in reality, it was just swelling. It was really gross. I wasn't able to even get out of my chair when Terri finished her second lap. She went out for a third lap and I wasn't any better.
The decision was to take me to the ER to get things looked at, but after consulting with family members who work in the ER, I decided to go home, put on a compression wrap, take a lot of ibuprofen, elevate my leg and get some rest and reassess on Sunday afternoon. I haven't yet seen other photos of the race (hopefully there will be some of me in my new Scott kit).
It was a sleepless night, trying to ice my leg (the swelling moved up into my quads) and being disappointed at quitting, but dropping out was probably the right decision. I hope to be back together and able to ride at 100% next weekend at Greenbrier!