1, 2, 3, 5, 4, 5…wait, that doesn’t seem right. I can barely do basic arithmetic when racing and you can forget about something that requires the extra memory cells like counting! I don’t get upset about anaerobic stupidity because if I can’t do 2 plus 2 I must be on a roll. If I can’t even count, I must be FLYING!
I have gotten ahead of myself. A handful of other Grippers and I raced the Baker’s Dozen a week ago. It is 13 hour mountain bike race that can be run solo, or as 2/3 person teams. I had not planned on racing but then I got 2 emails about 5 minutes apart. One from Ian Spivak pointing out how great riding the Baker’s Dozen would be for NUE training, and another from a teammate Tim Abbot who regrettably lost someone dear and was offering up his entry.
13 hours is a long time to race and for me prep included putting together enough food and water as I could muster. This race features a mass start and the first few laps were very fast. With Jeff Dickey nipping at my heels our second lap was the fastest lap for the event. I am sure everyone has seen the youtube clip of the Cape May cyclist getting taken down by an Antelope but for those who missed it when it went viral: ANTELOPE TAKEDOWN
As we swooped down a particularly fast section of the course a herd of deer got spooked and darted through the woods. One, two, three, they just kept coming and each one was faster than the last. From my vantage point collision seemed eminent. When the last deer finally crossed the trail I could swear he missed our lead man only because he leapt over the front tire. Sure that is probably a bit of an exaggeration but at race intensity that is how it looked in my eyes!
The fast first few laps took a toll. I clipped one pedal HARD and immediately noticed an odd sensation like my cleat had shifted dramatically. What seemed like just 15 minutes later I clipped the opposite pedal with the exact same results. Lucky for me the shoes were still attached, still disengaging like normal, and still riding fast. I later figured out that I had cracked the sole in half on both of my modified road shoes. They were fine for seated pedaling but the bending was excruciating for standing or bunny hopping.
Bad things sometimes happen in threes. Left and right soles cracked were one, and a tree with my name on it waiting as number two. I came into a corner too hot and clipped a jagged bark pine tree with my right side. Adding insult to injury it deflected me straight into another tree on the opposite side of the trail! I felt like a human pinball.
And lastly, number three was my first flat and some troubles with my front brake. It seemed that a bike swap was in order so around 8 hours in I set up another bike to ride. Regrettably, the tinkering meant that the first relay got by while I was fiddling with my seat. Getting passed by the first relays was inevitable, but it would have been sweeter to have it on course so I could have the company of riding with my conquerors.
A race this long is not just about racing hard and being done. It is a series of battles to overcome adversity. Flats, mechanical problems, nutrition issues, traffic, obstacles, fatigue. Sometimes it is a roll of the dice but overcoming adversity is part of the challenge and what makes it so much fun.
What a great day in the saddle. I got to ride with so many cool local riders. We train in the same air, ride the same trails, dodge the same crazy commuters, and now we rode the Dozen together. What made my day was all the great help I got from teammates (especially Harris for swapping tires for me), Jeff and Ian for turning some laps with me and lifting my spirits, and especially my new friends from Arrow who took the time to help some random guy sort through his water bottles. I can’t wait for next year. It was also a great day for Gripped. We took first in both men’s and women’s solo categories and 4 th in 3 person male. Can’t wait for 2013.
Editors note: no podium photos were available as there was no podium. Official results confirmed Kevin won Mens Solo with 21 laps and placed 1st compared to all 2 person male teams, 3rd compared to all 3 person male teams and had the fastest lap of the entire race at 31:48. Kudos Kevin!!!