2 years ago it was my first race ever and it rained non-stop from the start to the finish. when i finished my 2nd lap (6th overall) the rest of my team had already decided to stop riding, so i joined them in a pancake breakfast and dry clothes. I ended up driving home in wet shoes and socks, and now I always make sure i have a good rain jacket, waterproof boots, and a reserve pair socks for any race of camping trip.
last year i tried to race solo and was riding well, but had to call it a day early due to problems with bike fit. it turned out that my saddle was a couple inches below where it should have been... a disappointing day, but it probably saved the rest of my year.
this year i was determined to change the pattern and have a team that rode all the way to the end of the event. Luck still wasn't on my side this weekend, but thanks to a special guest rider we did make it to 12 o'clock...
I picked up Matt at his place, and after some careful packing (stuff it in wherever it fits) and some rack reconfiguration we hit the road and the traffic. Normally it would take about an hour and half to get to Lodi from the city, but saturday it took almost that long to get to springfield. We finally made it to fredericksburg about 2 hours behind schedule and met up with our other teammate Lee on the road to the racecourse. We set up in the main area and went out for a quick pre-race spin... the course, as of 6pm, was dry, dusty and loose.
as we were having dinner a thunderstorm blew through leaving us scrambling to get everything under cover and gave the course a couple hours of rain and me flashbacks of 2 years ago. the rain stopped though, and didn't come back for the rest of the race. during dinner we settled on a 1-2-1 pattern for doing laps... that way we each got a lap in early - so that none of us were waiting untill 4 to ride - then a 3-4 hour break, 2 laps, another 3-4 hour break, then a last lap if there's time.
at some point during the day, i can't really remember when, i decided to ride singlespeed instead of geared... i'd probably be a bit faster on gears, and the course would probably be easier, but something about this vibe at this race just made me want to see how long i could manage to ride the single...
matt started us off strong, turning in a 57 minute lap and coming in right behind ricky and joe's teammate markie - they where one of our competitors in 3-man sport... i took off on the course in a futile attempt to catch ricky and very quickly crashed, missing a bridge that i didn't know was coming arouns a bend. the course wasn't muddy, but it was slick and fast... the first part of the course was a bit of a suffer-fest on a singlespeed, a couple of steep rooty climbs, and the only long climb on the course... i caught and passed a couple of riders.
half way through the lap the course comes through the camping area for a couple of feet and then heads back out into the woods... after this the climbs are a lot more singlespeed friendly, but the riding gets a good bit more techincal... i crashed again, hooking my bars on one of the many small trees along the side of the course which twists the bars around and throws me down on top of them, putting one end of my bars into my rib cage and straining my shoulders... i was back up pretty quicklyand take it easy for a while, not sure how my shoulders will feel when i have to stand up and crank on the pedals, but after a while i'm back into the swing of things.
there's a new section of trail back on this part of the race course that's even tighter than usual for Lodi and has a couple off-camber rooty sections that have me riding with one foot clipped out, just in case... i'm keeping an eye on my time, trying to beat matt's 57 minutes, but by the time i'm recognizing parts of the course that come near the end it's pretty clear that i won't... i get back to start/finish at somewhere around an hour and hand off to lee, then head back to the camp to recover...
Lee gets back in later than expected, and it turns out his light failed half way through his lap and he's been riding in the dark. matt went out for a double lap, but an hour later he's in camp telling me something... it took a couple of minutes to realize that he shouldn't be there, he should be riding. turns out he'd taken a bad fall and the volunteers at the start/finish want hime to check with the EMT before he goes out again. at first matt is trying to get me to take the baton and go out for another lap, but i figure i'll hang out for a couple of minutes to make sure he's ok in case he needs to go to the hospital. The EMT has a look at him and it looks like he's going to need stitches, which is going to be a problem, since both cars we have there are blocked in by tents, cars, and EZ-ups... luckily the camp right behind us is a Nick from pedal shop, a teamate of Lee's and we manage to move things around so that i can pull out under their EZ-Up.
i spent a couple of hours trying to find a comfortable position to get some rest in the waiting room while Matt ended up getting 6 stiches. while we were away Lee rode another lap, and Phil VanWerkoven, a friend from MORE who was volunteering at the start tent while his son raced, said he'd ghost ride a lap for matt if we wanted.
we got back to the campground around 9 and i got my stuff together and went out for a 2nd lap. the course was drier by this point and even though i felt like i was riding more casually i came in at almost exactly the same time as my first lap. i handed off to phil who rode our last 2 laps - he'd been looking for a team to ride some laps for, so he was pretty stoked to be riding - while i had a couple of post race beers and traded stories of the night before with the many friends who were there. we ended up with 2 laps a piece. it's not quite what we had expected, but the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm never seems to be what you expect...
looks like it was pretty good race for a bunch of riders i know... full results aren't up yet but special 1st place congrats to:
- becky for 1st place womens solo
- ricky, joe p, and markie for 1st place sport
- marc and lauri for 1st place duo
- erin and stuart for 1st place singlespeed
it was great to see so many people there -- joe, ricky, mark, marc, bob, pete, jason, stoner, butch, barbra, becky, erin, anne, nick, dt, spearman, craig, denis, stuart, jon, tris, mike, david, shiva steve, trevor, phil, derek, dan (sorry you didn't get to race), and off course matt & lee -- it's the people that make this a great event even if your race doesn't turn out how you expected.