Race Report: 2008 12 Hours of Lodi Farms PART I

a few weeks ago I was in Santa Cruz for a wedding
those six days away are nothing more than a blur
memories no more clear in my head than the actions that occurred a decade ago
for me to retell the story from last week's Greenbrier Challenge would be as effective as me retelling the action from a race that occurred in 2007 or even 1997
it is all in the memory banks nothing is near the surface
some of my recollections could be fabrications
so... before my brain files away my memories of the action from Lodi Farms I will try to put down some words...
you may want to skip past this...
this may be a good number of words...
here we go!
Race Report: 2008 12 Hours of Lodi Farms
For the 1oth Annual 12 Hours of Lodi Farms I joined up with Cargo Mike and Jonathan
aka Beethoven; I never knew Jonathan as Beethoven and for this day he had a mohawk.
Jonathan is the same person I raced with last year... the same racer who I mistook for an opponent and passed my baton off to... story on the gwadzilla archive if you scroll down a bit. We signed up as a three man single speed team. The Three Man Single Speed Class is usually a big class, but on this year the race was small and so were the classes. A multitude of single speeders disbanded from the overly popular single speed phenomea and moved onto the next big thing. Hola Hoop powered extra off road skateboards, but after learning that the 29 inch hoops would not make it through the tight trees this same rag tag group decided to race fixed gears.

I arrived late in the evening. The hard rocking cover band was on their second to last song when I pulled down Hollywood Farm Road in Fredericksburg Virginia. Finding Cargo Mike and crew was not difficult. Initially we had planned to camp with a large contingent of DCMTB racers, but fire ants drove them to an alternate section of the campground. Being that I was sleeping in my Honda Element with a freshly purchased 22 dollar twin size inflatable mattress the ants did not seem to be a threat.

started this... stepped away... started back up... had to do stuff... now I am back... not sure what direction to take this... not sure where I was headed... here I go!

The weather was threatening. It seems that rain and Lodi Farms go together like peanut butter and bananas. Had been watching Weather dot Com all week and was dreading the worst. The weather in DC was beautiful all day, but the wind was picking up and the trees were showing the belly of the leaves. So I packed all sorts of extra gear for multiple cold wet laps in the dark. Then when I packed the car I put the Jamis Exile Single inside the Element rather than ontop anticipating that the rain would start during my drive south down Interstate 95 towards Fredericksberg Virginia.

The drive was painless. I drove in no great rush as I had plenty of time and no real need to get there too early. When I arrived there was a band hammering out some covers. I think I heard Love Removal Machine then another song before they pulled the plug. After some handshakes and hellos with the folks at our race base camp I strolled around socially. All sorts of people were buzzing around. There was a flurry of activity. People in a panic to get bikes ready. With no real discussion we sent the logical man out first, Cargo Mike. Anxious to ride I opted for second and Jonathan had no complaint with going out third. There was a moment's discussion to double up the first set of laps. Without hesitation I refuted this proposition because I know I can do the course once fast better than back to back.

There was a pre-race meeting fifteen minutes before the start.

The start lacked a LeMann's style run. Instead there was a parade lap. With the racers into the woods I went back to the car to start thinking about racing myself. Once in my gear I snapped a few photos of passing racers. Watching the clock I got more anxious knowing that Cargo Mike aka Coach was going to turn a fast lap. Having missed Chris Redlack at the transition point after the first lap last year I did not want a repeat of such a race breaking manover.

Suited up I tap danced in place as I waited for the racers to finish the first lap.

One, Two, Three... and Tom of The Family Bike Shop comes in at Four. With the intention of each racer on the Family Bike Shop squad doing back to back laps for each person's first rotation; tom checked in and rolled out for lap two. Just as Tom disappeared around the corner into the woods Cargo Mike came rolling towards the transition tent. Words left my mouth as I accepted the baton. As I barked something about good lap or fast lap or good job Mike gave me some advice about the course that I could not deciefer. I mounted my bike and pressed the button for my NiteRider HID headlamp... nothing... then press again... then press again... and there it was... the slow wake up the the bright blueish white glow. I was headed down a hundred yards of jeep road before dropping into the woods for what I knew would be some tight twisting singletrack.

In the woods a few turns ahead I saw a thin form working the trails. I knew it was Tom. I knew I had to try and catch him. Thrusting through each pedal stroke I mechanically muscled each turn and each climb then riding the brakes for each short steep descent that ended in a turn. Everything on this course goes into a turn. To my surprise I caught Tom of the Family Bike Shop Three Man Single Speed Team. I rode on Tom's tail for a bit then felt spry enough to ask to pass. Tom granted me the pass. Tom then followed me. I worked hard to lead fast. I worked hard to try and pull away. The distance between us grew from a tandem pair to twenty yards, then maybe a tad more than 20 yards which on this course means that the rider is out of sight because there are more than likely a few turns between you.

The course was unfamiliar. I worked things as hard as I could. My effort to reach maximum speed may have been inefficient. There was no flow to my effort. Lots of massive accelerations and lots of panic stops with the brakes. About three quarters through my first lap I was on some freshly cut trail. Not only was I failing to flow on this section, but I was unable to muscle through this section. Everything was tight. The trees and the turns were cut by Hobbits not Orcs.... and am certainly no Hobbit. The freshly cut trail was soft. My wheels were sinking into the earth like I was trying to ride across quick sand or maybe a moss bog, but I doubt that anyone knows what a moss bog feels like. I knew it. I was snailing along. Tom caught me. I pulled aside and allowed the pass. For twenty yards or maybe a few turns I chased on tom's wheel... then he disappeared. Somehow Tom managed to finish the last section of the course two minutes faster than me. Back to back laps! This soon to be Eagle Scout schooled me... the 17 year old boy humbled the 40 year old man.

I marched through the course wondering when these eight miles would ever end. On the last mile I heard a familiar voice. It was MikeK formerly CityBikesMike. Rather than try to make a pass MikeK rode on my tail and heckled. I picked up the pace so that passing would not be an option. The heckling continued. I knew that there would be a sprint to the finish. At this point in my lap I had not been passed by anyone. I told MikeK that if he tried to make a pass I would take him out. Out of the woods nearing the campground then a nice arc leading to the grass straight away towards the Start/Finish transition area. I hammered out of the saddle. I could feel MikeK at my shoulder. Smiling and Laughing we each skidded to a halt and handed off our wristband batons. I finished a nose ahead of MikeK. His back to back lap average may have been faster than my single lap time, but he did not pass me. A hearty hug was shared and we went back to our race team base camps to get the next racer ready for the next exchange.

With Jonathan out on his lap and Cargo Mike being next I had just under two hours to rest, recover, refuel, and work on my bike. Back at the Bike Lane tent Cargo Mike and I discussed the course. I mentioned my difficulty on the second lap then voiced that I felt I could use a smaller gear then tried to explain why. Cargo Mike pointed to his Gunnar Single Speed and told me he had just changed his rear cog. I had no rear cog swapping options.

more on this later...

photo by gary ryan
good shot by gary of Jonathan from the Family Bike Shop by Gary
good shot of Jim the Unholy Rouler also by gary


gmr2048 said...

"The trees and the turns were cut by Hobbits not Orcs"

Quite possibly my favorite trail description ever. Well said.


BicycleXC said...

I was very scared I wasnt going to see you again after you passed. I was riding very hard and it was about 130 am at this point. I thought of the long haul and put my trust in the course and hoped it would favor me. Being 6'2" i felt some of your pain as my bike is amlost taller than I am when its on its end and the trees were very close.

Thank you for the props Gwadz. Good racing at wakefield. Good luck at CM if youre plannin on them.