Although Taylor's event, the National Mountainbike Oktoberfest, was this weekend, I chose to race my local 12 hour, the Hill Of Truth. Location, fun factor, and weather all played into it. And I am glad I did. What a blast!
I was concerned about the course conditions since it rained on Friday. Haw Ridge can be slicker 'n snot when wet. 50 degree temps and partly sunny skies greeted me Saturday morning. Perfect!
Zeke was my one man pit crewin' machine. He even sported an official Specialized touk. I think he learned a few things while watching Scott support Danielle at Tsali earlier this year. Pre-race I did not have to a thing, except supervise.
The race started off with the traditional canon blast. I started off fast, but not too fast. The first lap was wet and slick and a lot of racers were fumbling all over the climbs. I managed to skillfully negotiate the cluster. Perhaps I should have started like a greyhound, but I was trying to stay out of the redzone to see how this might help for future laps. I got caught behind a guy on a Kona Jake. He was doing pretty good (probably much better than I could have on a CX bike), but was still slowing me down. I managed to get around him when the trail opened up.
After 2 laps, I swapped a muddy Crash for Stumpy. By the third lap, the trail had dried up considerably. I noticed how much better Stumpy handled the descents, but Crash outperfomed her in the tight, twisty singletrack. Today, riding two different bikes, I noticed considerable differences in their handling. From short, power grunt climbs to long, technical climbs, from tight, twisty singletrack to wide open fast singletrack, this course had it all. The descents were technical with roots and rocks galore. Just guessing, I think there was probably 1000 feet of climbing per 7.7 mile lap.
The laps seemed to go by fast. My legs felt pretty good all day. By lap 9, the hills were beginning to hurt. Red Hill was a short, but steep grunt (20% grade). This year was the first time I did not think the Powerline climb was the hardest. The East Ridge trail climb was just mean! It came right after the Hill of Truth (powerline). After the HOT, there was a technical descent so you had to be on your toes. Then you immediately began the loose East Ridge climb. Ouch. Although my quads were o.k., my hamstrings were screaming! Afterwards, you were rewarded with the fun Kaboom! descent.
I was impressed with Zeke's skills. He managed to keep my bikes spotless, kept me fed and hydrated, took down lap times, and told me where I was in regards to the other solo riders. I give him an 8/10. On one lap I managed to head out without my Camelbak. I had just put my lights on and had the super-heavy Moab battery in my jersey pocket. So with that weight back there I guess I thought I had my Camelbak on. It wasn't until the first climb when I reached for my bite valve that I realized I had ridden off without it. But I don't think it hurt me much as I had been well hydrated all day (I even had to stop and pee at the 5th hour which is unusual for me). A couple laps, he let me linger a bit longer than what I probably needed to. Therefore, 8/10.
By the 11th lap, I had a 3 lap lead on the second place woman (Emily Parker, 15 years old, Way to go!) and I was in 4th place O/A, so I went out for one more. On the 12th lap, after having to yield to a family of skunks and 2 deer, I decided that it was time to call it quits and give the trail back to the critters. All I needed was for a deer to take me out on some crazy fast descent! My left medial hamstring tendon was also hurting and I did not need to aggravate that any further.
So I completed 12 laps, 94 miles, 12,000 feet in 10 hours 30 minutes. The good thing about this race is that I felt much better than when I raced the Black Bear.
One person who I was most impressed with was Sophie. I met her initially on the Kaboom descent as she was giving up her line for a rider behind her. When we finally hit the pavement, I pulled alongside her. Holy cow! She looks so young. She told me she was 13 and racing solo. OMG! I gave her some advice about holding her line and told her what an amazing job she was doing. If you could only see how technical the Kaboom descent was and here was this 13 year old cleaning it, while moving off the easy line; man, her Mom and Dad must be proud.
I am not sure how many laps she did, but that does not really matter. What matters is that she solo'd it and had fun! I am excited to see what she will be doing in a few years if she keeps it up. And I am sure she will as she has strong family support.
Kudos to John and Kent for another fun-filled race!