Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Leesburg Bakers Dozen

20 years ago I was living in Houston, TX, going to trade school to become a commercial diver. One day I came across an article in a cycling magazine about these guys with fat tired bikes riding off road. I had to get one, and after a false start with a quickly disintegrating department store brand, I got to a bike shop and picked up a Diamondback Ascent. Riding a lot in Memorial Park, I met some folks who were racing and got involved in a couple of bike races. I came in last in all of them.

That was my last racing experience until last weekend. Several of the Outlaws were planning on doing the Leesburg Baker's Dozen 13 hour endurance race. Kevin was looking for a couple of partners for a 3 person team and I told him that as long as he didn't expect to be competitive, I'd like to take part. Tony R. stepped up as well. So the three of us became Team Mostly SSOFT.

The course promised to be very good. Not any "real" climbing, but enough short steep ups to make me hurt. Roots, logs, rocky ledges and a couple of drop offs in the woods, combined with rutted tracks in the fields made for a harsh time on the rigid riders hands and wrists. I geared from my usual 32x22 to 32x18 on my 29"er Monocog and hoped for the best.

I took last Friday off from work and met several Outlaws at the Farm where the race was to be held. We established our hole in the wall headquarters near several groups of friends. Kevin, Joe, Jon S. and I took a pre-ride of the course and I had a spectacular endo where I landed dead on the top of my head. That made two pre-rides and three crashes. I wasn't very encouraged. Friday night was quiet. Just Brian J. and his barbecued chicken, and me and my keg of Peg Leg Stout, provided by outlaw sponsor Clipper City. It worked out OK.

Saturday morning was spent getting ready. I made myself a nice breakfast of sausage and eggs while everyone started to arrive and get prepped. Since Tony wasn't yet there on Friday, Kevin and I had voted him as the lead off man. He took it well. 11 AM came and the race started. Tony rocked his lap and Kevin headed out. Then he was back and it was my turn. I was a little nervous. How embarrassing would my performance be? I was tense and getting jarred all over the course, but riding OK. Down by the river I hooked a root with a pedal and was jolted off the bike onto the toptube, narrowly missing the jewels. Yikes! That made me cautious on several of the drops and rocky ledges, but I plugged away. Passing riders were almost all really cool, announcing their presence and asking to pass. I tried to accommodate them as soon as I could. Soon I was around.

Lap 2 was a lot better. I knew what to expect and just rode away. I was still psyched out about the two real drops, walking them both, but happy with the rest of the course. My times were nothing to brag about, but I was having a good time.

Lap 3 was my best lap from a riding perspective. I hit all the obstacles and when I got to the drops I was tired and just pissed enough to go for it. Scary, but I rolled them both. I wasn't the only one getting tired. Lots of the folks passing seemed to be in short temper. Screw 'em.

I started lap 4 well, but one the way around started to feel a lot different. I was wearing out quickly. I walked a couple of the steep climbs because I couldn't keep the momentum to roll them. I still rode the drop offs though. I'm pretty pleased about that. The pine plantation sections were very cool and kind of creepy as dusk was approaching. I got back to the staging area and passed off the timer chip to Tony.

I fully planned to go out again for at least one night lap, but sitting there food and beer were calling. Ricky and Jo brought a ton of good food, and Tom and Danielle were in camp for a visit as well. While sitting there pondering both hamstrings cramped up, so I decided I'd had enough.

I cleaned up a bit and changed while Tony rode a lap, then Kevin and then Tony twice more! But we were all done by 9:30, even with two and a half hours more available to race. Hanging around with the outlaws and company was just a blast, watching the riders still out on the course passing by in the dark, drinking beer, talking bikes, eating good food. Even though things were clouding up abd a few showers passed over, it was a great time. Midnight came and went and the last riders out on the course were finishing up their laps, the bonfires were lit and the band was playing, so we all wandered over to the fire. I was feeling pretty toasted by the miles and the beer, so I only hung around a little while before heading back to my tent and crashing. I missed the awards for the winning riders. Team Mostly SSOFT came in at 37th place out of 48 teams in the 3 male category.

Sunday came in gray and dismal. I woke about 6:30 am and was up and about packing to beat the downpours. I got my stuff away, but the rain hit hard while bringing in the team gear. Everyone got a little wet, but it was still a good time. On the way home in a hard rain, some semi along Rt 15 just before I got to the Maryland line, kicked up a rock and cracked my windshield.

If you are reluctant about racing, find a good group of friends to make it a great experience, and give it a shot. It's not about winning.

My photos are here.
Other photos are:
Official Race Photos
Jay D.
Gary R, who took the above photo and actually made me look good!
Jon S.
Tony R.
Ricky D
Todd B


Blogger Icon O. Classt said...

Excellent write-up Jon! Great to see you racing and giving it all you've got. (You rode with platforms?)

"A nice breakfast of sausage and eggs"...the perfect carb-loading pre-race meal, ha.'re back in for good, now.

8:00 AM  
Blogger riderx said...

Great to have you out there John! You look like a racing machine in the picture :D

3:26 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Fun times! Thanks for helping me get a team together for the event. I think we accomplished our goal to have fun and enjoy the experience. Can't wait to do it again next year!

8:46 AM  
Blogger J said...

It's not about winning. It's about the joy of failure.
If you only choose endeavors you're sure to succeed at what kind of success is that really?

12:16 AM  

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