Monday, May 07, 2007

12 Hours of Lodi Farms

First off, let's roll out a HUGE thanks to the folks at Team Bike Works for another great event!

Cliffhanger: how did we do?

Pics: campsite with tents and tarps, kids in the tent in a modern world on convenience, Jonathan and Tom's back before the race, Emma and Jeremy keeping me warm after my dawn lap, Jeremy getting ready for his bike race, Joel after his last lap, Tom HAMMERING up and out of the race course about to check in for the win, Team DCMTB/City Bikes after the 'podium,' Tom after his FAST last lap and Jonathan, me and Tom getting ready to go and sleep.

Susan, Emma, Jeremy and I set off down Rte 301 South towards the Great State of Virginia around 2:30pm. The car was stocked full of kids and gear for their first 12-hour race. They had been talking about camping all week. It was the first thing that Emma asked about EVERY morning and the last thing every evening.

We drove down in the rain and I turned into Mr. Bad Mood. I am not a big fan of the rain although this seems to be developing into a good omen for me. We rolled through scenic Waldorf (aka traffic hell hole) then down through La Plata into Virginia. We arrived on site in the rain, set up the tents in the rain and tried to entertain the kids in the rain. I called the boys to see where they were and Jonathan told me that he forgot his light. Damn.

Jonathan and Tom arrived an hour or so later. We got the ghetto EZ Up going (thanks Tom) and supplemented with a HUGE tarp staked up for additional rain shade (thanks Jonathan). We prepped our bikes, our food, our chairs and relaxed. Susan pulled through by making sure the kids didn't kill each other or themselves. I brought the laptop just in case and the kids were down with a movie (Barnyard) a little before 8.

Things got pretty chill around 9pm. The kids were down and asleep in the tent by around 8:30 (which is HUGE, all thanks to Susan). I was running and riding the first set of laps so I knew that 11pm was get-ready time. I layed down in the car (don't disturb the sleeping kids) and rested. We were camped IMMEDIATELY in front of the start/finish so I meditated through the racer's meeting. They announced 'No Le Mans Start' and I was bummed. Parade lap then race start. Whatever, good call probably. We were the only Expert team registered. We weren't really stoked about racing for first all by ourselves and I actually suggested that we move down to Sport class to have some competition. Hell, I even privately thought about just going home!

Joel popped up so say 'hello' as did Jonthan from Family Bikes here in Crofton. It's always good to see friendly faces. Big ups to Jonathan for coming down after work. In the rain. After working a full day on his feet. These guys were both racing on 3-person teams in singlespeed. They had a race between each other by the end of the race. I was worried that Joel would catch (and eat) Jonathan's team but they managed to hold Joel off.

I 'paraded' around for the first lap and started pretty close to the front. I passed a racer or five on my first lap. It was wet although I didn't get too muddy, which was odd. The tires were kicking up a lot but it wasn't wet enough for it to stick too much. I pulled a 56 minute first lap with A LOT of sliding, slipping and something similar for the second lap. I was done, I was stoked. I didn't sleep, I froze my ass off in the car. The rain had stopped, the clouds moved in and the temperature dropped into the high 40's. I shivered and was miserable. Don't wake the kids...

I rolled out of the car for my dawn lap, FREEZING my ass off. I got ready, shivering the whole time. It was bad. I got dressed and managed to get one brief thought into action: go stand next to the generator! I walked behind the start/finish and stood next to their generator to warm up. I stopped shivering and got my head straight. The generator was right next to the course so I saw Jonathan coming in just in time to jog over, tell the race officials our team number, receive the baton and jump on my bike. I was in a big hurry to warm up. Lodi always obliges.

The course is tight. It's hard to overstate that. There's not too much climbing but it's short, root-infested and steep. Whoever laid out that trail is a masochist. As soon as you get going, you turn uphill, over roots, 180 degrees. It's all about powering the climbs, accelerating hard and quickly and cornering. I mean CORNERING!

I've raced this event many times. I was the first guy to race solo singlespeed before there was an actual class for it (back in 2000, I got 5th in solo). I raced with Gwadzilla and Pooch in 2001 (Big Bald and Bossy), then again last year with Kent and DT (for second in Sport). I've never raced it wet (and I'm in the minority there). They've done a ton of work on the trails there, taking out a lot of the unsustainable stuff that has been there for a while and replacing it with narrow-ass singletrack. Did I mention that it was tight? These guys should get a medal for trouble-making trail!

I got back from my dawn lap and Jonathan and Tom were 'awake.' They briefed me on our current state: 37 minutes out of first place (only two teams but we thought we were the only Expert team), Jonathan had a bad first lap as his borrowed light died. He had to come back mid-lap, get another light then go back out. Bad Jonathan!

We were pretty bummed. We all re-committed to hammering out the laps, saving our overall ranking (still not sure what that was) and hoping for the best but also acknowledging that we were probably not going to make up that time.

After a few more laps, we were just having tons of fun. I felt much better after Susan nursed me back to health and the kids cheered me up. The sunshine helped a lot as well. We took down the tarp to dry out everything and the breeze started to pick up. Talk about a Godsend! SUNSHINE!

The course was firming up big time. Laps were getting faster, the traction was AMAZING. The canopy kept a lot of rain off the trail and the plants were thirsty. Only a few slick patches remained.

We calculated that I was probably going to have the last lap on the course, coming in just around noon. Turns out that the crack that Jonathan, Tom and I smoked REALLY helped out! I dunno what it was, but we started CRANKING! I went out around 11:03 and came back at 11:50! Tom sprinted out of the start/finish like a man possessed and Jonathan clued me in as to why: we were ONE MINUTE out of first!

I was freaking dumbfounded. ONE MINUTE! I was in total disbelief. I had every hope that Tom would take care of business. The other team had been in the lead since the first lap. We still aren't sure what happened to them but we know that Jonathan's light issue and a few delayed handoffs pushed us back quite a bit.

When Tom came STOMPING back into the start/finish for our last lap, he pulled a sub-50 minute lap and the other team hadn't come in yet! We had managed to scrap back to first in Expert! We celebrated with handshakes and sitting the Hell down! We were tired.

Talk about an emotional roller coaster. There were a ton of riders that didn't show up, I imagine it was weather-related, but the race was great. There was no standing water on the trails, the mud didn't stick to anything by my drivetrain (and bike) and the rain gave way to perfect sunny weather.

I've gotta tell ya, those WTB tires that I have been running for the last few years are NEVER coming off my bike! Sure they are a team sponsor, but I BOUGHT these tires! They are NOW called the ExiWolf but mine are so old that they say EpicWolf, the original name. (Points to whoever figures out what company had a problem with THAT name!). I ran the same setup from the Vail Lake race, 1.9 rear and 2.1 front. I can't believe how well they worked in those conditions. I never went down... not once.

Thanks to Susan for the dietary support and the kids for the emotional support. Thanks to Jonathan and Tom as well. Those guys kicked ass and I was just along for the ride! Times and results will be here later...

I forgot to mention that I got some of my second night lap on helmet cam. We'll see what it looks like but my hopes are low... I'll link it up later.


At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I call that course... HUSTLE AND FLOW
or should I call it MUSCLE AND FLOW

it is a great twisty twisty course

lots of fun
lots of work

good job out there


thanks for the pic and the plug

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Big Daddy Mike said...

No prob, big fella. Keep rockin' and rollin'. I'm glad you came out.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Darren said...

good report as have always liked Lodi, who was the other expert team? Wondered if it was Bike Lane.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Big Daddy Mike said...

I don't think so. Not sure though.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger gwadzilla said...


Sweet like Sugar!

when they saw the rain
they went home

Joe was still there with the Bike Lane Van!
I know
because he was wrenching for me!

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Big Daddy Mike said...

R U kidding? They left? I don't believe it.

At 7:44 AM, Blogger camps said...

Some of the Bike Lane experts bailed on Lodi, and came to Michaux instead, where it was sunny all day. Bummer for Joe though.


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