Thursday, September 23, 2010

Guest Blog

I am right jacked up with work (and hobbling around like an invalid) these days so I asked my buddy Mike to give a race recap from the Bradbury 12.

12 Hours of Bradbury

This is my first guest appearance on the Racin’ Rick blog site and I have been looking forward to writing about this since Rick asked me Monday to recap Bradbury from my perspective. I was trying to figure out if he asked me to do the blog because I am a friend of his or that it is because I brought him to Connecticut to meet my parents (alright, not what you think – we raced in Rutland, MA and used my parents house as a base for the weekend). Anyway, let’s get to the race.

So, one year ago (just after competing in the 12 Hours of Bradbury on a three person team – winning our division and coming in third overall) I decided to train my ass of for a year to do this race solo. I lost about 20 lbs and have gotten myself into the best shape of my life – it only took me 39 years to do so! I spent hours on my road bike this summer and competed in a handful of mountain bike races. I worked out a couple of times a week on strength training (once a week with a trainer – thank you Allyson). My wife Jill and two beautiful girls, Avery and Eliza were so patient with me this past year knowing that I had a goal – The 12 Hours of Bradbury. When I traveled with Rick to the Rutland, MA race a month and a half ago I asked him 100 questions about doing this race solo as he has had the experience and also captured the top podium spot multiple times. I also picked the brains of a few other friends who have competed in the race solo (thanks Mike and Morgan) and I am grateful for all of the information because I felt well prepared for race day.

Race Day – it came really fast but everything was fallen into place. It rained Thursday night but by Friday mid day when I arrived at my campsite things were drying out and shaping up to be a fine weekend. I set up camp and then headed out for a practice lap to see what the 8 plus mile loop had in store for me. It was wet in some areas but come race day things would dry up just fine. My two good friends Gabe and Stephen arrived that afternoon at my campsite and we kicked back and had a great dinner and a lot of laughs around the campfire. Stephen was set to race in the single speed expert category, I was signed up for the solo expert category and Gabe was there for team support as he was still nursing a broken collarbone from the Snowbowl race in Camden this past summer.

After a good nights sleep (or a good as it could be in a tent) it was time to get serious as the race was about to start in 2 hours. Check the bike, check the gear, check the food, check the drinks, check the bike – you get the picture! I have been consistent on my pre-race food intake all year and after 3 fried eggs and Canadian bacon I was ready to go. Rick arrived and parked at our campsite and gave us more valuable advice on where to stage our food station area and it proved to be the perfect spot. Gabe would end up working harder than all of us during the day as he became the main support for a half dozen solo riders, got interviewed by channel 6 news and never ate lunch until 5pm – thanks again Gabe!

ambitious staging for your first solo event.  me, on the other hand, not so much.
Starting Line – ok, here is where I chose to not listen to the advice I had been receiving from various folks over the last few months. They had been telling me – DO NOT START OFF FAST OR YOU WILL PAY THE PRICE LATER! What part of this did I not get – don’t know because I found myself in the front row ready to shoot off the line for a hole shot – not a bright thing to do with 12 hours of racing in front of me but there I am ready set go. Off on my most challenging event ever in my life and I am not really holding back (there is something that makes me want to run up front for as long as in can – it must be from my BMX days). I enter the woods in about 6th place – not sure how many solo riders in all but there looked like a lot of them on the line. 

zoomin off the front.

I settle into a nice pace, letting folks pass and trying to restrain myself from pushing it too hard. I get a fair way through the first lap and who has caught up with me – Racin’ Rick! Thank goodness for that as I was feeling better about my pace knowing he would not blow himself up on the first lap. We then hooked back up on the second lap and things were going well until I heard and then saw Rick crash behind me on the bridge – I yelled back asking if he was alright and he said yes but I knew it was a hard hit and hoped he would be able to continue. Laps 3, 4 and 5 went well and I was right on pace for the 12 laps I had set my goal on – then there was lap 6! Halfway on lap 6 my bike started shifting funny and my rear derailleur started doing some funny things – I thought just nurse it back to the start - finish line and a little mechanical work would straighten things out –then SNAP – there goes the derailleur breaking right off the bike and my chance to tweak things was not going to happen – 15 years of serious mountain biking and I have never snapped a derailleur off my bike, what a bummer and such a bad time to experience this kind of mechanical. Well, what to do when you are 2.5 miles from the start – finish line – run, run, run. While running back with my broken bike I thought of what my options were. I did not have a spare derailleur hanger (now I will always have an extra one)  and looking over the derailleur itself it was not in pretty shape. 

Gabe mentioned that Rick has stopped racing due to his crash and we went looking for him with the off chance he would let me ride the Salsa. Rick very generously loaned me his bike, we put my pedals on and adjusted the seat and off I went. So I may have been the only racer there on Saturday that completed 6 laps with a full suspension mountain bike and rode the remaining laps with a single speed 29’r. I lost about 45 minutes with this transition which would eventually cost me my goal of 12 laps. I turned 5 more laps on the 29’r and loved every minute of it.

So one will go through many different feelings when on a mountain bike for 12 hours straight, most of mine were positive until lap 9. Lap 8 was pretty good as I was getting use to the 29’r but the fatigue was setting in. My family stopped by to catch a lap which happened to be between laps 8 and 9. I had a chance to talk with them for a couple of minutes but did not eat enough and then set back out on the course. Lap 9 was pure hell, I could not get into a rhythm and it seemed like forever to get around the course. I started to think about bailing after this lap and my mind and body was just saying stop! When I finally reached my fuel station back at the start - finish line I was definitely drained and exhausted – Gabe stepped in and opened up a Pepsi for me – I have not had soda in a year and was not about to start now. We argued for a while and then I gave in and drank it along with eating a full rack of shot blocks. Along with that I had a few salt and vinegar chips, cashews and at hard boiled egg (sounds appetizing doesn’t it). Back on the 29’r and thankful for Gabe forcing me to eat a lot of junk food because I had one of my best laps all day! I was also jamming out listening to an iPod and the 10th lap just flew by. Now, here is where I was a bit bummed – it was 6:30pm when I arrived back from my 10th lap and I knew there was not a chance in hell that I could get in before 7pm for my 12th lap so I headed back out on the course, head lamp on and iPod blasting and enjoyed the 11th and final lap of my day as darkness set in. It was so cool to see all the lights from the other mountain bikers in the woods – what a fantastic light show!

All in all it was a fantastic experience and one I am not only glad I did but proud to have raced a mountain bike for 11 and a half hours straight. I finished in 6th place in my division and next year I will be even more prepared to race – and yes, I am either purchasing an extra derailleur hanger or putting the Turner aside and buying myself a single speed 29’r. Congrats to all who participated and big shout out to my mountain biking buddies – Stephen, Jason and Blaine for taking the podium on Saturday night, great job! A big thank you to Rick for the opportunity to tell my Bradbury story and also for the use of the 29’r!


Anonymous said...

Great tale, more guest blogs!


rick is! said...

what are you saying may? that you prefer other people to write?