Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dirty Spokes 12 HR Aftermath...

Dave H. hitting the climb through the Start/Finish Line like a Pro during his 6-Hour Solo.
Chris W. looking cool and calm through the Start/Finish.
One of the two lunatics doing the 12 Hr. Solo on unicycles!!!
Ed refueling during his 6 hour solo... not a pretty picture. He ended up pulling out 5 laps, awesome job!
Chris W. and the Titus pulling out his second lap.
Ray getting GQ on us in the transition area waiting on Keith to come through.
Here comes Keith! This was his first endurance race and from what I could tell, he had a blast.
Ray and Chris making sure our bikes are going to make it through 12 hours of hell.
When the magic bus arrives, prepare to unload.
Dave, Ed and our neighbor sitting around the campfire talking bikes. What else do you do on race weekend?
Homebase for the next 12 hours. Keith's wife was nice enough to hang with all of us and make sure we were taken care of.
The parade lap at the beginning of the race. There was a great crowd this year at the Dirty Spokes!
Yours truly on my second lap with less than a mile to go to the transition area. Once you reached this section coming out of the woods, it was a huge relief. You knew that you could really pound away and weren't far from the finish line.

This was one of the funnest, and hardest races I have done. The race, the people, the suffering, all top-knotch!

Left out of Monkey-town around 9:15am and made my way through the thriving metropolis of Atlanta. Reminded me why I don't live there. Had to stop in REI to check out the latest and greatest offerings of the best store in the world. Said goodbye to Atlanta and rolled up to Fort Yargo State Park around 2:30pm. Got there early so I could hold two campsites next to each other cause Ray, Chris, Ed, and Dave were going to be showing up later.

Set up camp at one site. Found out about the 60% thunderstorms and switched to another site higher above ground. This paid off big time later that night! Sat around getting organized and enjoying the outdoors. Had my first run-in with the park rangers less than an hour after arriving. This was a good sign for the rest of the weekend! Seems as my tent was a little too close to be off the tent pad so it had to be moved. I almost laughed when they rolled up in their John Deere gator and told me "Sir, I think we have a problem." I wanted to reply, "Yeah, buddy, your pants are about to fall down, why don't you give them a litttle tug to the north!" I figured I would just laugh a little and do as they say. Which was no big deal, honest mistake on my part.

After Hans and Frans left, it wasn't too much longer before the Magic Bus rolled up. I haven't seen so much stuff in all my life. Good thing we had our team meeting to help with bringing only the essentials! I was soooo happy I took my own car. Once they got everything set up, Chris, Ray and I hit the trails for a medium pace pre-ride of the course. Man, the course was fun and super fast! Almost too fast in some sections. This was probably the funnest course I have ridden. Seemed like all the trails were hard packed clay which meant no rolling resistance. Trust me, it was fast.

We finished up our pre-ride and headed back to camp. Some of the best times when going to races is just hanging out around the fire, having a couple of beers, and talking smack. We made sure all our bikes were tuned up and ready for the next day. Chriss helped me with my brakes seeing that the shop din't fix them. But f rom what I heard, that is not uncommon. Everybody was getting hungry so we fired up the grill and loaded it down with chicken. I aam not sure where Chris purchased his chicken from, but these things looked like small pigss, They were huge. You can tell when guys have a race the next day cause their plates the previous night consist of 2 things, chicken and pasta, and a lot of it! We were all pretty wiped out so we hit the sack around 10:30 thinking we would get a good night sleep. Yeah, right.

Well, remember that 60% chance of rain? They were right on the money. The bottom fell out of the sky at 1:03AM. I know this cause I looked at my watch when I thought my tent was collapsing under water and I was about to be going down Class IV rapids into the lake behind us! For the next 3 1/2 hours, it rained and rained and rained. Luckily I put most of my stuff, including my bike, in my car. And I had moved to higher ground. Mine and Ray'ss site drained pretty well. Ed, dave aand Chris, not so lucky. They were sleeping in a mud pit. Didn't know if anybody else was sleeping, but I found out the next morning, everybody was up the whole night. This had me a little worried about the race. The last thing you want to do before a 12 HR race is only get about 3 hours of sleep. But, hey, that's all part of it.

The next morning, we all rolled out our tents looking like death warmed over. It's not good when you look that bad and only had 3 beerss the night before. We got breakfast going, which wasn't much. I think I saw a few Slim Jims being opened. Ray offered me a breakfast muffin he had gotten from Publix. This thing was HUGE. He handed it to me and it weighed almost a pound! Literally, I asked to see the package it came in. I think the only ingreedient it didn't have in it was a pork chop. I took about 3 bites and felt like I had a brick sitting in stomach. Chris warned me that he had one at the last race they went to and it wasn't pretty a couple of hours later. So I politely returned it to Ray thinking I didn't need to have any "problems" out on the course in the middle of a 12 hour race. I decided fruit may do a little bit better and stuck with that.

Well, after breakfast, it was time to race. It was time to lay down the smack! We packed up our stuff and made our way to the race site. We got there and it was jumping. There were people every where! Dave had already setup our tent so we unloaded our stuff and started getting ready. The race started right at 10:00am and Ray was the first to go. They put in a parade lap to spread the field out and then headed into the woods. We were monitoring his lap time cause I was up next and needed to be at the transition area waiting on him so I could immediately hit the trail. We ran in it like clock-work. Our lap times stayed consistently around 1:05:00 so we knew approximately when we had to be waiting in the transition area. I was able to pull out the fastest lap at 1:01 for the team. I was hoping to break an hour but never did. What is amazing is that the pros were putting in 50 minute laps! That's insane.

Everybody did an incredible job out on the trail and pushed themselves as hard as they could. Dave was racing the 6 hr. solo and he ended up with a fourth place finish putting in 6 laps in 7 hours. That was incredible!

As we approached nightfall, you could feel the tension start building in the air. Everybody around the ssite started pulling out their lights, making sure everything was working. Seeing that Ray was going to be completing a lap around 8:00pm, he had to leave with his lights. He came back in just before it got dark with his lights on. I was up next and hit the trail anxiously awaiting riding a new trail in the dark. As I entered the woods, I hit my lights and they slowly cranked themselves up to full power. WOW, what a feeling. The woods were very dense with trees and without the lights, it would be pitch black. But the L&M Arc HIDs did an incredible job. The only issue I had was the amount of moisture in the air that created major problems with my glasses. I had to stop 3 times. By the third time, I was not happy to say the least. The lights were plenty bright but everything was hazy. There wasn't much I could so I just hit the trail hard as I could. It wasn't smooth, it wasn't pretty, and there are still probably some ruts in the trail that I left from locking up my brakes. But I knew I had to get back in time for Chris to leave or we would loose a lap. The night lap was my third lap and I was pretty wiped out. The hardest section was a power line climb that seemed to never end. The previous two laps, I hit the climb in decent shape and was able to pass several people eaach lap and gain some ground. Not the night lap! I don't know if it was because I couldn't see the top or what, but it was mentally kicking my butt. At the top I came up on a guy that was hardly making it up walking. He looked bad. I made sure he was OK and that gave me a little push to keep going. Once over the top, I grabbed a Gel, sucked it down, and motored on.

Before the finish line, there is a long grass area the drops down a little where you can gain some serious speed and then you climb to the finish. I had been following a rider the last couple of miles pacing myself as we hit the green grass section. I came past the rider, wished them well, and punched it. I knew this section you could make serious time up if you can hold on for about 3 minutes. Even though I knew where I was, I couldn't see the finish line at the top of the hill. I knew it was there, I could hear the music, but it was a weird feeling not being able to actually see it. During the day, you could see the finish line and the announcer on top of the second hill. But there were no lights. So I just kept pushing as hard as I could down the hill, focusing on the trail in front me and hammered it up the other side crossing the finish line with the whole team waiting there, cheering me on. As I crossed the line, Chris hit the trail for our final lap. What aa great feeling!

After all was said and done, we ended up with 11th place out of 24 teams. Not too bad seeing that two of us had never done an endurance race before. But I think that will soon change. There are already talks about the 24 Hours of Adrenaline in October.

We'll see.

Lap Results:

Lap 1
Time: 1:01
Average Speed: 11.6

Lap 2
Time: 1:07
Average Speed: 10.7

Lap 3
Time: 1:14 (I could have probably walked it faster)
Average Speed: 9.7

Total Miles: 37.5