5.18.2004

Big, Bald, and Bossy heads out to 12 HOURS OF LODI FARMS
No, I did not race this 12 hour mountain bike relay race as a soloist. I joined up with two other City Bikes affiliates, the team captain Brian P. and the City Bikes Chevy Chase manager Mike K. As it turns our Mike K. is BOSSY, Brian P. is BALD, and I am BIG (as well as being bald and bossy) The time leading up to the race involved a flurry of excitement and anxiety. Everyone was watching the weather channel in anticipation of rain. Those of us who raced this course last year in the rain and the cold had made the honest declaration that we would not bother to race this course again if rain was part of the equation. But as we got closer to the race date and the teams started to get more established I felt as though I would race either way. The real question was whether or not I was going to do the whole race on my rigid single speed. Each member of our three person team had decided independently that they would start the race on the single speed and see how things felt, each of us had all brought a back up bike just in case the course was too brutal to the body on a single speed (a bike lacking a derailuer, thus having only one gear, my bike lacking a suspension fork as well)

Brian, Mike, and I all traveled to the race independently knowing that gathering at the race site would not be tough as the race is a fairly small event and that Mike was headed up to the race with the City Bikes extra long box truck. Upon arrival to the event I found a space next to Brian, with room for my tent (which was to be set up but not used, not even for a 5 minute breather) Immediately I was greeted by friend and fellow Clydesdale Firedawg Don Watkins. Don was racing duo with a retired fireman, I respected their ambition, personally I felt that a three person team was enough of a challenge for me. More power to the duo riders and PROZAC to the ones who opt for solo. There was a buzz around the campground. Everyone was happy to see old friends, familiar faces, and plenty of competition. The atmosphere was somewhat relaxed considering that the midnight race start was approaching fast, but the need to connect with the other racers was as vital as registering for the race and checking over the equipment. One of the City Bikes newbies decided to bleed his hydraulic brakes 20 minutes before the race...to make a long story short he ended up racing on a loaner bike from our race team captain Mike K.
When midnight arrived we were all very excited to get things rolling. Brian P. waited in the transition area with Mike's bike and I waited with Kemlers. The racers were spread out with a a Lemanns style running start to their bikes. I was shocked to see another friend and Clydesdale come around to the bikes in first (this racer was on a crazy fast team that took first in the single speed class) All the racers were anxious to see how fast the lap times were. I went to my big blue truck and suited up to ride. It was a warm night, and shorts and jersey seemed to be enough. I got ready to race with a tummy full of anxiety not knowing if I was going to be snailing around the course on the single geared bike with its 29 inch wheels. It seemed like seconds, but was a bit more than 50 minutes and Mike was already at the START/FINISHLINE...it was not the most fluid transition...but I was at the gate to greet him which is more than I can say for many of the transitions that I have experienced in my years of mountainbike relay racing. My gloves were off, my helmet was a bit askew, and the button on my helmet light was slow to start up and so was I. As I peddled down the crushed grass I hoped that I was headed the right direction. As the grass met some double track I pointed downhill and approached a stream crossing. It was then that I realized that they were running the course backwards this year, I had no advantage from racing this course the two years prior. I dropped in and SPLASH. It was refreshing. The race had begun!
Getting into a groove is always tough for me. Red Bull helps to warm up my legs and lungs, but my races always start a very heavy Darth Vader breathing style for the first several miles and tend to end with the same. What I felt was the halfway point marked a transition in the trail, less log crossing, less tight winding single track, but significantly more up hill. It was one of those situations where a significant amount of my brain power was wasted on asking myself, "when is this course going to end!?!" Sure enough there was a turn onto some jeep road double track and some tiki style lamps in the not so far distance marked the START/FINISHLINE. My laptime was strong, 45 minutes, equally important my body felt good and I was going to stick with the Karate Monkey. Brian P. aka Pooch aka Bald went out on his first lap on the single, enjoyed the experience, but shifted to his geared full suspension bike, Mike also moved to a geared bike for future laps, but that may have had to do with his loaning out his Phil Wood gearless bike to kid with the hydraulic brake issues.

The race momentum had taken over. I was able to get Mike to agree with my aim on racing single laps rather than doubling up having each racer do two laps back to back, sure that would have given each racer time to sleep in the night, but with all the caffeine pumping through our veins and the party atmosphere around the campground it seemed unlikely that anyone would sleep if they had the option.

I never checked the clock or the results board for my lap times or our team's lap position. Our status or my speed would not effect my intensity. My efforts were at their peak and I was going at it as hard as I felt possible, I felt good, rather good, maybe even real good. With my first lap at 45 minutes I felt that later laps were all faster than the first, I was wrong, but it felt that way. In the end even with my multi-crash last lap in the daylight and the rain that gave me a slow lap of 57 minutes I managed to average about 48 minutes per lap. In the end I walked way feeling very good about my efforts on the Karate Monkey, but larger than that I have the long list of memories and the increased bonds that occurred on the course and in the pits. Our base camp was set up along with a gathering of people from MORE (Midatlantic Off Road enthusiasts) It was an impressive display. I was blown away. Scotty from More and PVC (Potomac Velo Club) was a machine. Racing at age 57 on an open class, running back to back laps with an average of roughly 55 minutes per lap he was on fire at the stove. We had pancakes and bacon in the morning and he deep fried some tastee wings at the finish. The team atmosphere was high! Once familiar faces were immediate friends. THere is an energy that is shared at the multilap events that can not be matched at any single day event. Day races are great, but multiday events ROCK!

I had a blast. Was very glad that the pain that I thought was a broken leg on my last lap just happened to be a painful crash. Was also pleased to learn that the Karate Monkey has some grand race potential at some local short climb courses that I am already familiar with.

this is another race report from the same race
but I am not sure that I hit the mark
will read over this and the prior report over tomorrow am
that is
if I have the time
work has been busy

if you want something
if you want to keep it
hold onto it with both hands
one hand is not enough

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