April 14, 2014

Baker's Dozen 13 Hour Relay Race - 2014 Race Report

Date: April 12, 2014
Race: 8th Annual Leesburg Baker's Dozen 13 hour relay
Location: Leesburg, VA
Conditions: Summer-like, with some slippery mud to start the day, ending in fast and packed conditions (with dust even starting up) later as the day went on
Riders: Jeff & Zack

I had been dreading going to the Baker's Dozen this year, only because I thought I'd have to race solo. My long-time teammate for this race, Terri, had broken her foot and it wasn't going to be well enough to race on our normal 2-person co-ed team.  We couldn't find a replacement rider and I'd resigned myself to riding for 13 hours on my own.  Luckily, Zack heard I was looking for a teammate and signed on with me to race a 2-man team, less than 15 hours before the race start.

The Baker's Dozen is held on private property in Leesburg, VA that overlooks the Potomac River. Normally, it's a cow farm, but the owners of the Plum Grove Bike Shop built miles of singletrack and the farm is open for mountain bikes once a year for the race.

The trail weaves through various rock-outcrops
The trail is a lot of fun.

Photo Credit - Nathan Smith - https://www.flickr.com/photos/37554200@N03/sets/72157643902124755/ 
It's almost all singletrack weaving in and out of stands of pines, over rocks, through fields, across roots and through the main camping area twice.  It makes for a fun day.  Especially when the weather is nice, like this year's edition.

We camped with the Juggernaut ESF crew, who brought their own shade-support:

Zack and I agreed to use the race for training purposes as this past winter had been bad for both of us for getting out on the trails, or outdoors for any reason.

With 278 riders on the start line (almost 600 people were racing on either solo, 2 person or 3 person teams) for the 9;00am start, it was important to get a good start so we wouldn't be caught in traffic and have to walk after trail dipped into the singletrack and passing opportunities were limited.

I got a good start and decided not to lead going into the trail, giving up the lead to two other riders.

Photo Credit - Marco DeMartin - https://www.dropbox.com/sh/lts3mj9wqks4gnt/p78wSH3RZk

Matt Lough of Juggernaut fame slotted in behind me, and the four of us started to put time on the chasing pack of 274 riders.

We had a good gap until a moment of inattention for me and I ended up sliding out on a slippery, off-camber turn.  I lost some time after shaking myself off and getting my foot untangled from my front wheel and by the end of the 35 minute lap, I was down about 20 seconds from first and second.  I rode out for my second lap and chased down the two leaders, finishing with them after handing off the baton for Zack to take over duties.

Zack took off on the maiden voyage of his Spark 700 RC.  It was also his first time racing on 27.5 wheels.

Photo Credit - Gary Ryan - http://toofattorace.smugmug.com/Sports/2014-Leesburg-Bakers-Dozen-Rac/ 
The non-reinforced sidewalls on the stock tires didn't fare well on the rocks and he limped back home after a lap with a slow leaking tire.

Photo Credit - Gary Ryan - http://toofattorace.smugmug.com/Sports/2014-Leesburg-Bakers-Dozen-Rac/ 
I headed back out for some more laps while Zack put on a new tire (which also developed a slow leak later in the day after a hard hit off a large rock drop).

There are some good log pile ride-overs and rock drops on the course
The race is a lot of fun early in the day when your legs are still fresh and pedaling through the singletrack feels effortless.

About 10 hours into the race and 6 hours of ride time behind me, my legs were fairly cooked and I bonked hard on the last lap before nightfall.  My heart rate, which had been around 165-170 for most of the race, barely climbed above 120.

Lots of riders all over the course all day
I finished up my lap, handed off to Zack, and proceeded to drink a lot of caffeine, eat a lot of carbs (sugar) and rest up for my last lap in the dark.

Photo Credit - Gary Ryan - http://toofattorace.smugmug.com/Sports/2014-Leesburg-Bakers-Dozen-Rac/ 
Unlike me, Zack got faster and faster as the day went on.  By the time we got to 9:00pm, with an hour left to race, we were a lap down on the leading two 2-man teams, but up 2 laps on the 4th place team.  All we needed to do was finish one last lap and we were done.

I headed out for the last lap and had some scares in the first sections of woods when my light connection refused to stay together, so I lost my light every time I went off a drop-off.  Not fun to hit the bottom of a drop and be in pitch black!  Luckily, the course went back through the camping area, so I rode back over to the camp, grabbed a new light-head and rode back to where I left the course to complete my lap, which went uneventfully (other than whacking a few trees with my arms).

Closing out the last daylight lap
Zack heading off to do 2 night laps
We ended up 3rd in the 2-man category after riding 21 laps and just shy of 100 miles each. Possibly the best part of the day was finishing up and heading to the huge bonfire with a bluegrass band and pizzas by the truck-full to close out the night.  Another successful year at the Baker's Dozen!

- Jeff

April 09, 2014

Getting the season rolling

After a terrible winter of cold weather and snow here in the Washington, DC area, and being out of action for two months with pneumonia, I finally got back to bike racing in descent weather last weekend at the All American Road Race and the Sugar Hill XC, both in Maryland.

While neither event went particularly well for me (riding in the basement at an easy pace for months doesn't build much race fitness), they were good training events in generally sunny conditions.  I had a pack finish in the 80 mile road race Saturday and 9th in the mtb race Sunday.  Most importantly, it felt so good to get back out on my Spark 900 on dry and fun trails in Patapsco State Park.

All American Road Race - Photo Credit Igda Warner - http://velogirl22.smugmug.com/

Next up is the Baker's Dozen 13 hour relay event in Leesburg, VA on April 12.  While I've raced this event the past 6-7 years on a two person co-ed team with Terri Spanogle, Terri broke her foot this spring, so I'm going to attempt the event solo.  I tried to race the Baker's Dozen solo the first time I rode the event, but it came on the heels of multiple 80 hour work weeks and I spent most of the race catching up on missed sleep and only got in 3-4 hours of actual riding.  Hopefully this time around goes better for me!

- Jeff