Two years ago, I took a light fall that resulted in some traumatic knee damage and me not being able to walk for about a month:
|Left knee and leg were about 4 times normal size|
2012's course was run in a clockwise direction and it was fast, dry and dusty. Perfect! About 500 racers attended the event which made for a lot of dust on the 8-9 mile loop trail.
My goal was to get out in front on the first lap and do two fast laps right away before handing the baton off to Terri. We would then do one on, one off laps for a few hours before doing double laps each to give the other some rest time. This plan worked out great.
I ended up going into the woods second (and we had a bit of a gap just 5 seconds into the event):
I rode in a group of three for the first lap, along with this past winter's training companion Kevin Carter (who was racing solo) and we had a good gap over fourth place when we rolled back in to the start/finish area.
Kevin and I continued on to do a second lap and we really opened up the gas after we'd gotten warmed up on the first lap. We rode together to the finish on that second lap and Kevin recorded the fastest lap of the day (Kevin went on to ride incredibly fast all day, turning in an amazing 21 laps, or nearly 200 miles).
Terri headed out for her first lap and I got a bit of rest. We were camped with the Spokes Etc. and Wicked Wash folks, which turned out to be an awesome place to be. We were right at the start and I got my bike washed by the Wicked Wash guys (the stuff works great, by the way - I'd highly recommend checking it out - it cleans your bike with little or no effort on your part) after the dust grew heavy on my bike.
My friends on the Juggernaut team pulled out one of the funniest things I've ever seen at a mountain bike race. They hired a mime to come to the event and wear one of the tshirts and sent him to heckle (can a mime heckle?) other teams. I'm still laughing about it days afterward. The kids at the race seemed to enjoy the mime, but I think other teams were non-plussed...
Terri and I continued swapping laps for a few hours, according to plan.
I was getting the precursor to some leg cramps because there wasn't enough space on the course to drink properly. I always drink nuun when mountain bike or road racing to ward off cramping (I've stopped having issues since switching to nuun), but I wasn't getting enough during my laps. I drank bottles of it during the day and eventually I got enough and the cramps went away entirely and I was able to keep standing and sprinting up each of the small power climbs.
Just before dark began to fall, Terri and I switched back to one on, one off laps again to keep up some speed in the last 3.5 hours of the race.
We thought we were about 10 minutes in the lead, but the promoters had been having some glitches with their timing system (due to people coming too close to the timing recording system when going to check out results), so we weren't 100% sure.
I figured Terri had 2 laps to go at this point and I had about 3. On the last lap before dark, I caught up with Ian Spivak (another super fast guy who I trained with this past winter). The two of us pushed each other to ride a fast lap in search of Kevin. We eventually found him as he was fixing a flat. Once he was done with his repair, we drilled it to finish of the lap. It was good to be riding with people I know and it kept the speed high.
Night hit and I waited for my first night lap.
While I was waiting, I Amy Breyla pass by and Terri finished her lap 3 minutes later saying that Amy had passed her. We were in second place! I charged out to chase down Kris Auer. It took me three or four miles to catch and pass him.
Riding that hard so late in the day (we'd been racing for more than 11 hours at this point) was hard, but I like chasing people... I put a few more minutes on him before finishing my lap and Terri headed out for her last lap at 9:00 pm. We had to start our last lap of the day by 10:00pm
Amy caught and passed Terri and we were back in second. I had 2-3 minutes to catch up on the last lap of the night. I had hoped we would not have to sprint out the last lap of the day, but I was ready for it.
My legs were feeling better as the day went on (possibly from drinking so much nuun and wearing my Medilast Recovery Socks between laps - those socks are incredible). It took me a half lap to catch Kris and we ended up winning by about 2 minutes. (Kris' light apparently fell off after I passed him.)
I was happy to have won this event after a number of tries. Conditions were awesome, the people at the race were awesome and this is a very fun event that I'd recommend to anyone, beginner to expert. If you want to get someone interested in mountain biking, have them come to the race to just hang around the team pits. They'll want a mountain bike...
Here's the ride data: