5.12.2008

one of the things I love about riding...

one of the things I love about riding is the clarity of my thoughts as I push the pedals
yesterday as I went our for that quick hour thirty on the bike my mind drifted from topic to topic
while on the bike I revisited the events of The 12 Hours of Lodi Farms
in this reflection I thought of so much that was not covered in my attempts to write a race report
those thoughts were not recorded or cataloged
those thoughts are now gone
but... maybe I can take a stab at approaching this topic again


RANDOM REPORT: The 2008 12 Hours of Lodi Farms

After carry out Thai food with the family I made the drive from downtown Washington DC to the rural surroundings of Fredericksburg Virginia. Although I printed out directions, I am not so sure that I need them. I have done this race so many times that I do not even miss that hidden turn down Hollywood Farm Road. I pulled into the campground and scanned the ground for my team mates... without hassle I found Jonathan and Cargo Mike under the Bike Lane tent with Joe Coleman.

It was odd... The Three Man Single Speed category tends to be one of the larger classes at Lodi Farms which made me curious why there were only three teams in this class this year. Sure we had lost two teams to the mutation into six solo fixed geared racers... but what about the others? Had the midnight start with the painful sleep deprived drive home the following day taken that many racers out of the game? These thougths were fleeting as it was important for us to focus on the moment. How many teams were involved was not as important who were the other teams. At a glance I knew that we would have a race with the Family Bike Shop squad. Cargo Mike and I had a short exchange... it is funny... I had no idea what Cargo Mike's intentions were so I told him to go ride his bike... then I sort of laughed as I told him to ride fast... he laughed... cause we both know... that is what Cargo Mike does... and that is what he was going to do...


I am not sure if it was the blow of a whistle or the sound of a gun, but the race began promptly at midnight...

Cargo Mike was off into the woods taking a short parade lap before the race entered the tight twisting single track that is the flavor of Lodi Farms. As the racers took to the course I went back to my car to try and get focused. Not just trying to get my gear ready for the next lap, but also for each lap to follow over the next 12 hours. It is important for things to be set aside rather than having to dig through and find stuff in a panic for the exchange between laps. So I set aside clusters of clothing for variable temperatures... leaving plenty of room for reclining on my new inflatable matress inside my Honda Element.


Already in the black and red of DCMTB-City Bikes I moved about our basecamp a tad scattered. Feeling as if I was forgetting something I went over things... helmet... gloves... light... back up light.... it seemed as if I was forgetting something... I started to fuel up... I went to my cooler.. WHAT! NO RED BULL? I rushed to the Start/Finish to get charged on some coffee. I tried to kill some time taking pictures... but I did not bring a tripod and I did not want to lose focus on my purpose... which was the bike... not the camera. So I gathered my gear and headed to the start finish. For some reason I decided to ride bareback... left the camelback behind which had the battery in the jersey pocket... a choice i had to deal with.

I was the first racer in the transition area. Having missed the passing of the baton after lap one while racing with Chris Redlack last year I was certain not to be late for things again. Also... last year the baton passing was botched when I finished lap my first lap... this year I would be racing with Jonathan again. There had not been much mention of my handing the baton to the wrong person... I think Jonathan understood that he had to accept part of the responsibility... thus forcing him to be sure to be on time for the passing of the baton to start each of his four laps.

With a different course than the year prior no one was sure how fast the riders would be finishing their laps. By the time fifty minutes had passed there were a good number of racers in the start finish area waiting for their team mates to arrvive.

back after being gone
the kids are in bed
tom and jerry has long since been turned off... we all enjoyed it
and I am thinking it is time for bed...

it is the next day...
let me see if I have any desire to get back into this...

It is a race. This is not a ride to and from work, this is not a group ride, this is not a ride with friends... this is a race. At the line Cargo Mike had a short exchange... there was not real need to give Cargo Mike a pep talk as he knows what he needs to do. Sure enough... it happened... Cargo Mike was one of the top five finishers after lap one. That fast lap raised the bar of what I needed to do. I got on my bike and started to spin towards the singletrack in the woods. There was a moment of fear when my NiteRider HID headlamp did not power up, but after a third press of the button that slow starting HID lit the world infront of me with a bright blueish white glow.

Into the single track I was immediately reminded how tough this course at Lodi Farms can be. The turns and the climbs start immediately. The short little roller coaster ups and downs demand focus and control. There is seldom a spot for a racer to refuel and regroup. There is definitely no place to rest and recover. At Lodi Farms the resting and the recovering is do be done in between laps and after the race. While on the bike it is all about hammering each pedal stroke with as much muscle and power as each individual can produce. The suckers in the granny gear are not working hard enough and their lap times show this. This course is about the middle ring or the single speed.... and for some freaks it is about the fixed gear. My team had selected to approach the event on single speeds.

Early into the singletrack I spotted the long lanky form of Family Bike Shop Tom just ahead. It was not clear how far ahead Tom was but he was within sight... so I hammered harder in an effort to catch him. Once on Tom's rear wheel I tried to settle in at his pace. Then I figured I had a chance to pass. Tom was on his second lap while I was on my first. It seemed clear that my fresh legs would offer a slight advantage. When the trail widened a tad I requested to pass... Tom obliged... with Tom on my rear wheel I muscled through the course. Nothing pretty... definitely no finesse... all about speed and efficiency and getting around the course as quickly as once can. To my surprise I was able to shake Tom off my rear wheel.

Later into this first lap I started to question the unfamiliar. Even though the duration was short the course seemed long. All the twists and turns can play tricks on a racer's mind. While winding through some tight turns on some freshly cut trail I felt my wheels starting to drag. The rear wheel was snailing along so slow that I dismounted and checked the tire pressure twice. ROCK HARD! the earth is soft... the tire is hard. I could not maintain speed. My pace dropped. I could not flow through this tight slow section. Tom reeled me in then humbled me. I tried to hang on his rear wheel, but could not keep speed on this section of trail. Defeated I accepted my own pace and tried to battle the demons in my head.

The trail got to be more well packed and had some straight sections. Still wishing for the course to end I enjoyed letting the wheels roll. The campsite was near... I could feel it... the creek to my side made me think that I was near the lap's end. Then I heard it.... THE HECKLER! It was fellow DCMTB racer MikeK. Mike was hot on my tail. I picked up the pace. The trail was tight and passing was not an easy option. My increased pace removed the need for MikeK to pass. I was not going to lose a spot. Cargo Mike had brought us in in fifth place and I had not been passed. I was not going to let myself get passed in the final mile of the course. I was not going to let THE HECKLER MIKE K pass me. We approached the ramp over the old oil tank which had us realizing that the finish was near. I made it clear that MikeK was not going to reach the Start/Finish transition area before me. Out of the singletrack and onto the field leading into the start finish I hammered. Mikek was at my shoulder in my shadow. We redlined at maximum speed putting fear into the eyes of all who stood in the transition area. I arrived at the table a knobby ahead of MikeK. I was not passed on my lap... I was not passed by The Heckler MikeK. Sure Mike had just finished his second lap for the night against my one... but that is not what we are talking about.... we are talking about the cameraless photo finish.

This year unlike last... Jonathan was in the transition area. I handed off the baton to the correct racer. Our team was in the running... our team was in the race... as jonathan headed into the singletrack I headed back to our temporary base camp. FIFTYSEVEN MINUTES! Back at the Bike Lane tent I was greeted by Cargo Mike. Soaked in sweat my body was emitting steam. We discussed the course and how things went. I made mention of feeling a tad over geared on the later sections of the course... Cargo Mike pointed to his bike in the stand and told me that he just put a larger cog/an easier gear on his single speed rig. We discussed estimates for Jonathan's lap... measuring my arrival time and Cargo Mike's departure time. I started to refuel before I started to rest. I asked that Cargo Mike as Jonathan to knock on the Element window 20 minutes after his return from his lap.

The race had begun...

maybe more on this in a bit
back
but not sure I should bother

The three laps that followed were very similar to the first. Well, similar to the first with the absence of the cat and mouse games with 17 year old Tom of The Family Bike Shop. These laps involved an effort for me to try and understand the course better and try to go faster by being more efficient. It just did not play out like that. As it turns out my effort to slow down and flow through the turns rather than accelerate fast and brake fast ended up making my following two laps two minutes slower. Sure I was that much more refreshed afterwards... still soaked with sweat and still steaming, but refreshed. But refreshed was not my goal. My effort was not to conserve energy, my intention was to log faster laps with less effort... that just was not the case.

Pleased with my performance yet confident that I could do better I set our on my fourth and final lap with the intention of logging my fastest lap of the day. It was already morning, my fourth lap would be my second lap in daylight. By this time I could race this course in my sleep... which ironically... was where I wanted to be. At the Start/Finish transition area I fueled up with coffee as I waited for Cargo Mike to come in from his fourth lap. As Phil Rice set out for another lap as a solo racer I gave a shout asking where my bacon was.Without hesitation Phil shouted back to his mother at his team's base camp. He put in a order for an egg sandwich. Being a saint Phil's mother cooked up a bacon and egg sandwich without any concern for who I was. The sandwich was in my hand before Cargo Mike finished his lap, sadly I was only able to eat half of this bacon and egg masterpiece before heading out on my lap. Last year Phil Rice had sent me out on my last lap with a mouth full of bacon... this year was a whole sandwich... I was confident that I could log my fastest lap of race.

This being the fourth time in under 12 hours that I had raced this course I had a pretty good idea of what I could ride and what I needed to run. There were a few sections that proved to be inefficient to muscle through. So this lap I worked the course. Hammering up the short roller coaster climbs and screaming back down the those short little mini descents. The bike was freshly tunned by my buddy Joe Coleman of The Bike Lane. The little added braking power that Joe had given me gave me the confidence I needed to head into the twisting turning downhills at speed. The brakes had a better ability to decelerate rather than working the controlled skid. As I muscled my way around this tight little course I chased each wheel in front of me and passed everyone I could. No one battled me on the pass as everyone was just battling their own set of demons. I managed to knock out that slow section of freshly cut trail without too much bitching and smile when things opened up again and I was able to let the wheels roll. As the trail went along the creek my smile grew wider as I knew my race was over and I felt that I had achieved my goal of my fastest lap for the day. Over the creek, around the turn, up the rusty old ramp a shout and a scream at gary for missing the shot, then down the other side, two more turns then a sprint to the finish. FIFTY SIX! My goal was achieved. I logged my fastest lap for the day, but there was a tinge of frustration that this lap had not been faster. Jonathan set out on his lap. A glance at the clock and Cargo Mike could see that he had time for one more lap. Although Cargo Mike is not visibly competitive the intensity was there. Cargo Mike left out strong and came back fast. Although our team finished second behind the folks at The Family Bike Shop Cargo Mike managed to log the fastest lap for the day. Forty Nine Minutes! Forty Nine Minutes on a Single Speed no less! BAD ASS!

that is enough words on Lodi Farms until next year

The 12 Hours of Lodi Farms and the Midnight Start
Race Report Part One
Race Report Part Two

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