Paul and I once again participated in the Pats Peak Mountain Bike Festival. So far we have done the 2009 6 hour 2 person, and in 2011 we did the 5 person/coed 24 hour race. This year we decided on giving the 12 hour 2 person relay a shot. What did we have to lose after suffering through 24 hours of rain last year, this year would seem like a breeze (hopefully).
The forecast for Saturday was upper 70’s and sunshine with night time lows going into the 50’s. This was the perfect forecast for me. I had already told Paul after the 2011 Rain-fest I had no intentions of racing for 12 hours in the rain. It was looking pretty glum all week too. We basically had rain almost every day between Tuesday and Friday. Luckily Saturday was looking beautiful.
The course for 2012 had a few additions to it. They eliminated 2 sections of ski slope climbing and replaced them with some switchback glade climbing. The total course is only about 5 miles, but it gains almost 900 feet per lap. Not too bad if you were doing a 2-3 lap event, but throw in 12 hours of relay, and it really starts to wear on you. Most of the course had dried out except for a few of the open ski slope crossings. The couple downhill sections seemed a little rougher this year too. All in all a very difficult course, but not impossible.
I was wide awake at 5:45 AM on Saturday after falling asleep around 9:30 Friday night. So I got my act together and ended up at Pats Peak around 9AM, with race start around noon. We staked out a shaded area on the back deck of the ski lodge.
Our goal was to do single laps and switch off to the next rider. The theory being go hard for a short amount of time, not use too much energy and have a quick recovery. Not so sure that approach worked for me this year though…….
Paul once again opted for the first lap, which always starts with a Le Mans style start. It’s pretty much a mad scramble for your bike and hopefully the hole shot. It helps because not 300 yards after the start, you go around the water pond for the snow making guns and into a singletrack section. It’s relatively important to avoid the backup of traffic as climbing basically starts in that singletrack.
Anyways, while Paul was racing his first lap I decided to have a look at what items Tim Farmer from S&W Sports (one of the promoters of the whole weekend) was selling at a table he brought. Lots of skate board shoes, some of which were Iron Maiden themed……SWEET!
After a quick browse I went back to our “campsite” and got ready. I figured I had about an hour based on our pre-ride from the week before, and how wet it was then. NOPE, Paul was back in under 50 minutes and I had not even made it up to the tent yet. That was the only screw up/mis-cue of the day.
Without belaboring the details, I’ll just say this….My first lap was okay. I rode a sub 50 minute lap and was pretty happy. Basically after that, I sucked for the remainder of the day. Not sure why, but I just could not generate any sort of climbing ability today. I was getting passed here and there on my laps and then having to pass people back on the downhills, not always easy!
Between laps I basically had enough time to eat some food, drink, rest for a second or two, and then it was back out on course. I have to thank Freestyle for coming out and taking care of bike maintenance for Paul and I. He made things easy that way. Plus we’ve known him for well over 30 years now, so it is always fun to hang out with friends.
Given the number of 6, 12 and 24 hour teams and solo riders out at any time, the course really got bedded in and dried out for the most part really well. The few wet ski slope sections just got big ruts in them, nothing but time will dry those out. So while the course was getting faster, fatigue was making it harder to ride fast (for me at least).
So while I wasn’t feel the greatest, I was still having fun, and I was still passing people. It was really late into my 5th lap as the sun was setting and then my 6th and final lap that I was just toast. I came in at 10:55-ish to hand the baton off to Paul for the final lap. He had 65 minutes to do one final lap and finish it off at midnight. Turns out he did a roughly 48 minute lap!
That was even after stopping to take a shot of rum and drink a beer from the INSANE group of downhillers camped out for their race on Sunday. Those guys were nuts, but pretty humorous too. They took it a bit too far after moving some of the course tape around at night and then jumping out and screaming at people in the woods. Other than that they were pretty funny and entertaining.
So after 12 hours of racing we ended up 2nd, ironically enough, to another set of identical twins. They were 16 years younger then us, so hopefully we at least gave them some brief competition?
After packing up our little camp solitude, Paul and I grabbed some food and stuff and headed into the base lodge to sleep. It wasn’t worth driving back to Concord, just to have to turn around and drive back for a 9:30 AM awards ceremony. So I grabbed some floor space with my sleeping bag and don’t remember being awake for more than 10 minutes after that.
So in closing, I’d just like to add this…..If you want to suffer on your bike, and I mean really suffer! This is a race you have to try. The course is not impossible, but it is damn tough, and when you are doing something like a 2 person relay, it really doesn’t give you much in the way of kindness. Will I be back…….probably? Hopefully in a little better shape and not feeling so blah. We’ll see, the 2013 race is scheduled for June 8-9th. You going to be there? I probably will be.
Thanks for reading
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You will be back, you have no choice.