Tuesday I rode in this....
Wednesday was 10x worse....
Thursday Keith and I drove 14 3/4hrs to my dads in FL
Friday we landed at RazorBack MTB Park in Reddick FL.
50degrees and sunny....
It's funny getting in a car with people you don't really know and driving for hours. Keith is funny, which makes driving 15 hours bearable, almost enjoyable. I lucked out to have found someone eager to do their 1st 12hr race at the same time I was contemplating getting out of Pennsylvania's worst weather of the year. Keith is new to endurance mtb racing and tho I subtly tried to sway him in the direction of the 6hr race, he wanted all 12. He's his own man so what could I do, but more importantly now we would see what he could do.
So we drove his car, which was a 9yr younger version of mine. Seemed like a wise choice till it started overheating about 6hrs in. What could we do but stop and eat some Mexican food. That seemed to do the trick and besides a few unexpected micro-climates, we had no problems the rest of the trip.
My dad was up and waiting with some grilled chicken when we arrived around 10pm. Senior Price lives in a quaint small town with only 3 blinking lights, so I was a little surprised to be roused from my slumber by the sounds of slurred voices shouting in time with the disco lights of Johnny Law. Expecting to see Keith duking it out I ran to the window and watched as Officer George tried to question the driver of a white truck while his passengers failed to obey orders to stay in the cab of the truck. After passenger #1 got tossed in the back of the car, Passenger #2 minded his mouth a bit more. The Driver got off easy when he explained that he was on medication and wasn't drinking. Apparently that excuse works, because George let him go, while acting as a personal escort. Keith didn't hear any of this. He thinks I dreamed the whole thing.
We pulled into the RazorBack MTB Park's, parkinglot and set up tent right next to the SoloGoat himself, Ernesto Marenchin (sp). He was between fellow IF'er Harvey Minton and us. Ernie had just gotten back from a pre-ride and was now in turmoil, because his travel mate Brett had lost the car keys, and was back on the trail looking for them. We consoled Ernie, set up camp and got ready to pre-ride. Suddenly Rob Lichtenwaller showed up and we both just about pooped our pants in joy, shock and agony. Now the race was really on. Rob, local Trek regional rider Andy Mills and Ernie totally upped the level of competition: there would be no coasting through this one.
Rob lives an hour and a half away from me so my desire to start a 'riders ride share' sight got some positive reinforcement. I told Rob that and he said his new sight was going to have a section for it. Look out for www.veganrob.com. It's not up yet but will soon be. Rob, Keith and I pre-rode and found the course to be it's usual fun and challenging self. Definitely staying focused and on the bike would be important. We got back to camp, found out that Brett had the Keys on him the whole time, they were stuck in his gut!? No really! Okay, just in the front of his shorts, but don't you think you have noticed keys in the top of your shorts?
The next morning it was actually cold when we woke up. Below freezing as a matter of fact, I thought the locals were going to shiver to exhaustion before the race started. Rob and I lined up together for the Le mans run and laughed at the people wearing better winter gear than I have ever owned. By the 10:30 start I was comfortable in an under-tee, short sleeve jersey, shorts and kneewarmers. Thats the least amount I've worn for riding all year.
The run started off with people running like they were being chased by gators. A steady pace saw me at my bike in the top 5 and off I went with Andy behind me. The first lap I took a little fast on purpose. These early season races are for experimenting and I paid for it with a heart rate that didn't drop below 160 the first 4hrs. That course is one of the most fun I've ever ridden, and it keeps the short steep climbs just close enough to discourage relaxing. Because the trail builders had to utilize a limited amount of space you often got a chance see other riders though the woods, but it was sort of disorienting to try to figure out where they were. My team-mate Harvey and I exchanged pleasantries once or twice when we saw each other.
Andy went by me half-way through the 1st lap and Rob caught me soon into the second lap. And that was the start of our yo-yoing. We were pretty much within urinating distance from each other the first 10hrs of the race. We caught Andy after lap 3 besides a brief stint riding my wheel I never saw him again. Apparently he dropped out do to blurry eyes caused by dust and cold weather.
My pit was just before the Start-Finish Line and Rob was just after, so he usually went through first and I would catch him as his wife Sara pitted him. That battle kept the race tense and really made stopping not an option. On the 10th lap I took my longest break of about 4min, because I was feeling a bonk creeping in and it was a good time to put on the arm-warmers. My Dad was there by now and taking good care of me, stuffing salmon down my throat and such. The first few laps I had to give him instructions on how to pit properly. I felt rejuvenated, caught Rob at his pit, and we rode together into the 11th lap. With him in the lead I could sense something was amiss, and wasn't surprised when he pulled over and to take a leak cause he 'couldn't concentrate'. I held my pace without attacking and expected him to pull back up. After about 30min of no Rob I did start launching some mini attacks. I figured he had a lot more experience at night riding and was sure he would cruise up at any moment. After no Rob at the end of lap 12 I thought things were going good, but no one had given me a split to him, and according to my watch I was was going to have to do two more laps before the end of the race. Since the race started 30min late I figured we would have a 10:30pm cut-off. I was due to finish my 13th lap at 10pm so as I went by I told my Dad to be sure and get me a lap as I came through to start my 14th. With about 2miles to go on the 13th it dawned on me that I had seen a sign announcing a 10pm cutoff. Sweet relief! Especially since I was feeling another energy drain and had non Idea if Rob was catching me or not.
It was great to come across the finish line in 1st for my first race of the year. Rob came in about 11min later. It was another great battle between Rob and I. Keith came through in 10th overall but 1st single-speeder. He schooled his first endurance race, and got a big trophy to take home to his daughter. The ride home was going to be good. Harvey Minton book-ended the Podium with me by taking 3rd overall after battling young local Chris JANISZEWSKI. That race came down to a matter of who would go out for a final lap. They were within a minute of each other and just barely made it in time to go out for another, but Chris conceded by not subjecting himself to another lap.
I should thank Harvey's wife Lauren for giving me some valuable race help/info, Kirk for some of the fire in my gut to win and the post-race shower and of course my dad.
Our drive back was fairly uneventful, except for the sore knees, and Maurice's BBQ joint. I imagine if you have any confederate pride you should have a picture of Maurice on your mantle and a bottle of Maurice's special sauce in the fridge.. Frankly I find it a little out of my normal range of beliefs. It definitely made the drive a little more surreal. Weird..........