Another one in the books. Rob P. from mtbnj and I cruised down to Quantico VA Friday to hit up the 12 hour race Saturday. Everything was set up well for a great race. Timing should have been perfect to get the camp, do a warmup and then let it fly Saturday. Nothing went as planned. Traffic was horrendous getting there, we got there too late, one of the tents had missing poles, and oh yea, my race bike broke 3 days before the race :(. The plan was to use my 29'er SS and just go with that. It's rigid so I was going to borrow Ted's fox fork but once I put it on the steerer is so gigantic that it would have speared me in the face at some point. So with all that said I opted for the rigid SS :-s .
Race went off with 90+ solos and a bunch of other teams. After a LOOOOOOONG run for the Lemans start, I settled in and found myself in 3rd wheel overall. I had to draft big time to stay with the geared guys. The course was fast and flowy but had some really steep climbs in it. I powered up most but a few I had to get off and walk. I was WAAAAAY over geared. I thought an 18 on the back would be fine but my knees disagreed. So I finished lap 1 in about 7th overall and leading my class. I had no idea how close my competition was so my strategy was to just keep pounding out laps. I figured even if they were faster, they probably would stop more. So I did 3 consecutive, and at the end of lap 4 I needed a change. I luckily brought my other rear wheel with a 20 tooth cog and stopped and switched to that. Thank goodness! Although my EBB decided to be stubborn, after 5-7 minutes I had it all working and off I went.
At the end of lap 5 I had a 5 minute gap on 2nd. This is about the time in the race that I try and see how I can brake my bike so I didn't have to ride for 7-8 more hours. That didn't work so I needed a different strategy. I motivated myself to see how much time I could put into 2nd on the next lap - I had a 13 minute gap then. Next was a 20 minute gap, then 31, then 38...perfect - it was opening each lap. I kept motivating myself that way and kept on it though the remainder of the race. Of course the decision came to either wait to not do the last lap to see if 2nd would miss the cutoff or just do another lap. I hated the guessing game and I wanted 100 miles so I opted to do another lap. I finally crossed the finish line in 11:37 with 11 laps and 104.3 miles of hard singletrack. I was the only solo to do 11 laps. It was great to get a win on the season and to be the solo with the most laps. It was great to have done so well with such bad prep and with such a hard bike to ride***.
***That rigid SS was rediculous. It was such a harsh ride that I had to pick alternate lines on the side of the trail to stop my arms from braking off. I had to change my riding style to brake normally. The front wheel isn't on the ground over bumps so any stopping had to be so much more anticipated. As for the SS I know it held me back the first few laps but I see why it's nice as it forces you to FLY up the hills. Of course at this point I never want to ride that thing with a rigid fork again but I'll reevaluate that when I get the feeling back in my upper body. I literally could not hold onto the bars with my left arm on the last lap of the race. I was so relieved to have finished the race so I could end the pain.