Rain Rain Go Away....
Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the rain as much as the next person. But, this rain is a reminder of the mountain bike race/ride season we all had last year. Races were canceled, rides off road were not an option, and motivation was down.
Sure, there were some experiences that were valuable when I did endure the cold wet rain.
Like the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm when I raced with Rob and Eric from the City Bikes team....
It was cold and wet, but once it was over we reflected back on a good time shared by all.
here is how it all went last year
there is talk of doing it again this year
but after being on the winning sport team two years in a row
I think for this course I best race Expert, especially seeing how our sport squads compared to the winning experts
it is a rolling course, no real climbs
not a bad course for the clydesdale
LODI FARMS SPRING 2003
I know that the facts are out...
and that eric told his tale
but here is a jumbled race report from Joel
my riding is as rusty as my race report
there is some correlation there
one thing is for sure...I don't know how to be short winded
12 Hours of Lodi Farms 2003: Rain or Shine
Having read Eric's race report I now feel compelled to put my story
forward and this morning's commute in the rain makes the memories
seem fresher and more real...
Everything Eric said was true...
The whole event was scripted as some sort of strange dark comedy... There was rain and cold on top of the 12 hour relay race format. If it had been a documentary film the viewer would have doubted it on
many levels. The setting of the prepared and the unprepared stacked
side by side, full on support crews with sponsor tents and full time
mechanics verses guys sleeping in their trucks with their bike
propped up against the outside of the truck getting drenched by the
rain. The lack of preperation and cohesion of our team had us bumping
into each other like the Keystone Cops from the silent film era. The
dialog surrounding our camp was something like a script from "Bill
and Ted's Most excellent Adventure." The equipment and the supplies
were also a mess...lodging for Eric and Robbie camped in high tech
gortex tents surrounded by shoes and mud drenched lycra tights and
shirts...I opted for sleeping in the back of my truck where the scent
of Starter Fluid whisking me off to dreamland...as for food, Little
Debbies and Red Bull were balanced out by Hammer Gel and
Gatorade...mid lap I was popping Now and Laters to maintain that
sugar buzz. The bikes were each suffering independently a different
set of symptoms, both before, during and after each lap. It is never
good to leave for the start of a lap with the bike not running "its
sunday best." Across the board things were so humorous and absurd
that it should have been filmed...but that would have taken
organization (or would have altered our behavor so that we appeared
more prepared, there is some law of anthropology that states that
observation alters the behavior of those being watched ((marc may
know the name of this theory)) ...much much more organization than we
would have ever been able to pull off.)
It was never mentioned that I had to beg and plead for these guys to
let me be part of their team. Asking them to downgrade from duo to
three man sport and then for me to use me 33% of the deciding process
to over ride their decission to ride back to back laps (2 laps each
before baton exchange) throughout the race.
Eric also forgot to mention that he said he had claimed that he was
going to get to the race site before dark to find a good spot, when
he showed up at the Fredricksberg WAWA in the cashier line behind me
The hysterics began when we arrived.
The drive was painless...
Rain was present. The sky was dark. The temperature was unseasonabley
cold. The race was set to take place.
Camping was tight....we were lucky to pin our cars in a small spot
with just enough room for the tents and a place to stand and change
out of wet gear.
The start of the race was nothing shy of comical. Robbie's bike was
less tunned than mine which is not good. At 8 minutes to midnight
his numbers were still not on his bike nor had he suited up....the
fact that his wheels were rubbing the brakes was something that would
need both light, the absence of rain, and a trueing stand to tend to.
The start itself is hard to describe, lets just say that Robbie had
to run to catch up to the back of the pack, grabbing his bike and
stepping into the queue. Forcing him to make neverending passes (I
would assume, as I was resting in my truck not along side him on this
lap) as he pushed his way to a 58-59 minute first lap. The race was
on its way. Eric was set to take the second lap, and I was the third.
Eric put in a fast lap just over an hour and I was fearing that I was
mismatched, but I knew that even a fast team needs its slowest rider.
But how much slower I was not sure, I feared that I was going to let
these guys down. Their exterior was all mellow, they claimed that my
times were not as important as my efforts, intentions, and my right
to have a good time. I worked as hard as I could on my first lap,
fighting against Chain Suck, dim lights, and many other technicals
some mud related others related to lack of preparation. When I
finished my lap I asked the vounteer at the tent for my race
time...in a mumble and a blur I was told that I had finished in an
hour 30, "good lap" he said..I walked away bewildered..."good lap?"
an hour thirty? how could I be that much slower on such a short
course...I knew I could do better...(later I was to discover that my
lap time was an hour three; 63 minutes. But I was still inspired to
do better next time, assess and repair the chain suck issue and go
out ready to contend with other such problems.
The time went fast between laps. Just enough time to clean up the
bike, eat some bbq fritos, a few bites of a cold burrito, rehydrate,
and get out of wet muddy clothing and climb into the truck and get
into the sleeping bag. With Red Bull pumping my heart it is tough to
get to sleep, but after forcing my eyelids closed sleep did come, but
just as the dreams of dry trails and sunshine began there was a
knock on the truck window, it was time to wake up and prep for my
next lap. No time to steal an extra second of shut eye, such efforts
tend to backfire.
Having known my issues with my bicycle from the lap before I was
ready to approach the second lap anticipating Chain Suck, I figured I
would have to push the big ring and force myself around the course
and deal with the muscular burn. This BIG RING ATTACK seemed to be
working fine, but it had me working the brakes. This is a winding
twisting course, pushing up and down roller coaster trails between
tight trees and over roots and logs, brakes are a big part of the
acceleration/decelleration system. I was grooving pretty well and
not minding the big ring one bit, but it was not far into the second
lap when my handlebar and helmet mounting lights were growing dim.
The light in front of me was no longer a bright white cloud, but
nothing more than two dim copper penny circles barely alerting me of
obstacles in front of me. This was maiking my loss of braking power
more aggravating (and dangerous)..my pads were shot....worn to be
paper thin...I could hear the metal brackets that hold the pads
making contact to my rims...like fingernails on the chaulk board I
chringed everytime I had to brake. This all on top of racing around
the course in the rain and the cold, trying to pass all racers in
front of me, and doing my best to maintain speed with out slipping
and slidding off the trail into a deep ravine or creek along side of
This lap finally came to a close, the course ending with an
inviggorating stream crossing, which depth was growing deeper and
deeper by the minute. The baton was passed to Robbie and back to camp
to repeat the bicycle cleaning/repairing process and the refueling
and resting process of my body. When I got back to camp I gave Eric
the standard 30 minutes into the racers lap before I shook his rain
covered tent. He stirred and moaned and started getting ready. He got
out of his tent a short time later and informed me about how he and
robbie had considered packing it in. We talked about the course and
the conditions and watched as racers dropped out around us. RVS were
slugging through the deep mud, tents were being packed in their bags,
bikes were being mounted on top of their cars. Teams were falling
apart. Morale was low. The night of rain and cold had been too much
for many of the racers...it seemed that the DNF list would be long
for this event. The drop out rate shocked me. The course was wet and
muddy, but still very ridable. Eric got suited up in his last set of
dry gear and assured me that he was going to do his next lap as a
double. This notion was exciting to me. That meant twice the rest. I
could actually get some sleep.
Eric met up with Robbie at the START/FINISH Line, the scrunchie that
was the race baton was passed and he was off to take the course
twice. In the meantime I struggled to get my bike cleaned and tunned.
I replaced all four brake pads and lubed my chain and examined it
closely for stiff links. Time passed I snacked on a variety of junk
food, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, more BBQ Fritos, and whatever else I
could get my stomach to agree with. My belly was all "gooed out" the
thought of Hammer Gel evoke the gagging response. Time passed and
before I knew it nearly an hour had passed. My bike was ready to go
and it was time for me to take that extended nap that Eric's back to
back lap would provide. Before I climbed into my rusty old truck I
gave this double lap some more thought. With all the things that
could go wrong with lights, bicycle, and body I decided it would make
most sense to suit up and wait for eric at the start/finish line. If
he wants to head back out...then I will walk back and climb in my
truck and take that long nap that I was promised and that I greatly
needed. When Eric finally finished this lap there I was, suited up
and ready to ride. Eric was relieved. His bike and body were showing
the wear of a rough lap. the long night or racers and rain had taken
its toll on the course. The couse was no longer the 100% ridable
course it once was. I took the baton, mounted the bike, and started
off...only to be retracted by the volunteers at the check in saying
that I needed a race number (mine was soggy and had fallen off mid
lap during the night) With a fresh number and a well tunned bike I
headed off for my last lap of the day. The morning light changed
everything. There were sights that had not been seen in the night,
hidden creeks and parrell trails. All sorts of wildlife had shown up
to witness the spectacle. My bike and body were both relived that
this was the end of the race. My last lap. The idea of a warm shower
and some dry clothes and the comfort of home were not far away. My
tired muscles fought to put in a competitive lap. My lights were no
longer an issue and the fresh brake pads had me in control. The chain
suck problem seemed to be cured. This could be my fastest lap of the
race...well..if the trail were not covered with 6 inces deep of
dinosaur shit. The rain was still coming down. On some parts of the
trail the center of the rail had a stream rolling steadily through.
This was the fast track. There were no real options for chosing a
line. This choice was made for you. It was mandatory that the rider
take the stream route. The mud on the sides was getting deep and was
definitely slow. THis lap was not going to be my fastest lap. It was
going to be my last lap in this race and that was enough to celebrate.
The lap finally came to a close.
As I passed our camp and headed to the finishline I could see Robbie
hanging out and telling some tall tale of beers drank and love lost
(or something to that effect.) It was clear that they had done the
math. We were well in the lead in our class and there was no need to
rush out on this lap because we would not want to send out another
rider. Some ten minutes later robbie went to the start line and
started his lap. He assured us that he would wait and not come across
the line before noon.
Eric and I played the event back to each other. Talked of the race
and the course as we waited for Robbie to finish up this race. I took
my muddy gear and mud caked bike to the stream that now rushed like a
river and cleaned everything as best I could. We waited as they
talleyed the results. We had dominated the sport class, and were 45
seconds shy of the leading expert team. We could have easily put out
another rider and shaved a few minutes on exchanges. With all that
said I think that on a hill-less course like this I should enter the
expert class, that is unless there is a Clydesdale Class.
Red Bull before each
and some flat coke during lap three
these things seemed to work on a short flat course
but after this race I realize I need to get some miles in
and go out and hit a few climbs