The Happy Bride's Maid (12 Hours of B. Bear)
12 Hours of Big Bear
Saturday, September 23rd, 2006
Big Bear Lake, WV (Home of the 24 hours of Big Bear and drunken golf cart madness)
I told myself I would NOT do this race if it was pouring rain. I had enough of that at French Creek, Mohican and most recently at Seven Springs a few weeks ago and did not feel like dumping more cash on brake pads and parts ruined by mud.
Having said that, rain was exactly what was in the forecast not only here, but down in Hazleton, WV too. But like a moth to the flame I STILL found myself loading up the Black Box with all my gear and bikes Friday night so as to make a quick 4:30 a.m. get-a-way from White Oak.
Woke up to light rain and fog and headed out. Got down to Big Bear with plenty of time to register and prep the bike. I had a slight problem when registering. I had not read the fine print and failed to bring enough cash to cover a One Day NORBA license. CRAP! Thanks to the WVU boys for spotting me the rest of the cash. I owe you. Literally.
Light rain continued and the start was pushed back to 7:30 due to the fact it still wasn't light enough to race. Luckily it was pretty warm, so I had none of the uncontrollable shivering that I experienced the last race.
The crowd was small. 20 or 30 something teams/solos total. This was a college event that was open to the public and all the cash went to benefit WVU Cycling. There would be no podium booty. The college kids were racing for their schools and points and the rest of us were racing just to race and throw some cash at and help some fast ass college kids. Personally, I was racing in an attempt to exercise the Seven Springs demons from my season's soul. (How's that for over dramatic?)
7:30 we were off! A short ride (thank God no run. Runs are stupid) on a prologue loop, then up over the bridge, (known to some as the Disco Bridge from the days when it was lit up for the 24 hour races) and into some fine West Virgina single track.
Despite the drizzle, fog, and the reported heavy rains from the night before the course was in good condition. No bad wheel sucking mud to really speak of. There were some areas of pooling water that soaked the chamois, but I was shocked at how well the course drained. It was in better condition than at last year's 24 when it rained TWO days before the event!
I chose to roll the Dos Niner again. It was a near perfect choice for the rolling single track, technical climbs and numerous rock garden that the the course had. I say NEAR perfect 'cause the only part that I found myself wanting El Santo's rear suspension was the long rocky (XX) down hill on the 2nd half of the course. YIKES! That section makes you feel like someone beat your hands and back with a baseball bat.
I was feeling real good on the bike and was cleaning a ton of stuff that I clearly remembered having trouble with at last year's Big Bear 24. I was extremely happy with clearing the long root & rock filled up hill 4.5 times of my 6 laps. the .5 was when my pedal hit a rock and unclipped. I couldn't get back in so. I had to hoof it. 6th lap I'd ride the smooth parts, hoof the technical. By that time all I could think about was a cheese burger and a beer.
On lap two during the long down, hill the front brake started making a nasty sound. I was certain I blew through the pads, but it didn't appear so. That noise though, YIKES! I checked to see if the retention spring was "jacked up" but it was hard to tell with all the mud. So I just laid off the front brake and used the rear mostly. Who needs to stop, right? Actually I think that attests to the power of the Hope Mono Mini's, The fact that I could use one brake on that ball busting down hill and get by.
Since the Dos was doing so well and the brake didn't seem to be a major issue I decided to just keep rolling the Dos9.
I did the first two laps without stopping, then after lap two I stopped by my cooler I had near the check in tent, grabbed a new bottle of my special Perpetuem/Hammer Gel mix and continued on.
During my 4th lap I rounded corner and found a shiny cell phone laying there. WHO is racing with a cell phone??? So being a sorta nice guy I stuffed it in my pocket to give to the race folks and kept going.
The sun was coming out from behind the clouds during lap 4. SWEET! I had enough of the wet rain jacket and jersey I was wearing, so I stopped by the Black Box after lap 4 to get some Advil, a new jersey and ditch the arm warmers and jacket. In hindsight I should have put new shorts on too since the skin in "chamois area" was gettin' a little bit like a wet paper bag. But I didn't. You live, you learn, you get monkey butt. That my friends is a scientific fact.
During lap 5 I was feeling some fatigue. Just plugging along riding my race. With there not being huge crowd of racers and a long 12 mile course, often I felt like I was out for a ride by myself rather than racing.
The woods of West Virginia is an amazing place. Tall trees, boulders, fern and rhododendrons everywhere. On some early laps, riding solo through single track, surround by misty rain, fog and fern, I couldn't help but feel truly blessed to have the ability to enjoy Ma Nature up close and personal like.
By lap 6 I was feeling the pain of the rocky down hill. Forearms, neck and back felt like I got hit by a truck. More Advil please!
When I got back to my pit I checked the standing and did some math (not easy for me even when I hadn't just rode 72 miles). Dude in first was secure. He was already at least 1 lap up on me and was heading out for another, just because, in the words of the score keeper "he's greedy". The dude in 3rd had done 5 and even if he went out for another, my time would be better. I would finish in 2nd.
Although it was a small group of 6 Solo racers, I still feel happy with that result. After some of my 24 Hour bad luck I had this year, to race 6 twelve mile laps in about 10 hours, feel good doing it and pull a 2nd place is something I'll gladly end my season on.
I won't be doing Iron Cross. I think I've had enough of the traveling and 4 a.m. drives 'till spring. Time to rest, enjoy fall riding, tip a few brews and plan my training and racing for 2007.
Race report over, now here's a few photos...
Must my legs look like this after every race?? No wonder my tub drain is always clogged.
I'm happy, I swear!
Now to some 2006 "Thank Yous"
Big thanks and appreciation to Bikeman.com, Salsa Cycles, SRAM, Rock Shox, Grey Hound Juice, and our other team sponsors. Also thanks to Brent and Ryan at Twin-Six for hooking me up with some killer looking jerseys to train in and tees to look uber cool in off the bike. Can't wait for the '07 line!
Six-Six-One helped keep my hands from turning blue in the cold and being rubbed raw during the ride with some great gloves.
Also BIG thanks to: My Wife JoErin for letting me do this crazy stuff and joining me on some of the road trips. My son Brennan for keeping me motivated and general cuteness. Tom for all of this super wrenching skills and support. Without the T-Man I wouldn't be racing. J.B. for helping with support and great photos at Lodi and 7 Springs (ride on you mega-mile road dog!) and of course Alan, Bikeman.com team manager for making me part of the team. Thanks!!!
It's been a season of highs and lows. But I had fun riding and racing my bike and put up some pretty darn, OK, could be better, not bad, middle of the road, results.
I also got to meet a bunch of great folks like Andy, Jeff W., Spot/Twin-Six Whores- Marc, Buddy, Matt and Paul. Thanks to all my fellow bloggers and comment givers as well. I had a ton of fun blogging with Rick, Matt, Travis, Jeff K., KoKo, UKraig and all the others. Thanks for all the encouragement and I look forward to more of this nonsense we love so much in 2007.
Cheers and thank you.