Sunday, February 23, 2014

6 hours of Santos Single Speed Race Report

I was so concerned about what direction the Red trail in the Vortex pit went, I did not even consider that they would run the Roller Coaster section in reverse.  Twister and Dog Bone were run in the other direction as well, which was less of an issue, due to their less technical nature.  Also the traffic jam, that was the first lap, gave ample time for recon.  Through in a few key hike-a-bikes around bottlenecks and crashes I avoided.  Avoiding getting caught up and getting around crashes is a skill in itself.

Le Mans starts are always a treat.  I just jogged along the best I could.  It felt like half a mile but was probably only a block.  I made sure my bike was in a memorable place, that made the jog as short as possible and would not get tangled with another bike.  Then about a tenth or three on the wide dirt road before the hard left into the singletrack making a huge bottleneck.  It looked like a traffic study in Fort Lee New Jersey.  Then later on Twister, two different nasty roots put someone down.  After getting around the 2nd crash, I had to close down a pretty sizable gap.  Closed the gap just in time to do the Roller Coaster section of Vortex in reverse and the mayhem that it laid down on the unsuspecting riders.  This is where some riders first realized what was in store for them.  Things were clogged and passing was tough, although some riders did start to allow passes graciously, a trend that continued as the race progressed.  OMBA had reworked the end of the Red trail, but ran a short section backwards to get to the field pass-through.  That short section was one of 2 places that was steep enough that I planned to pre dismount and hike up.  The other was in the Vortex as well, a rooted, stepped, steep up to the big drop in for the dirt jumps.  No we did not do the drop!  I got around more than one rider that either tried to ride it or had that, WTF look, when they saw it.  On one lap, someone called track just before the steep hill that just preceded that walk up.  I was on a womans wheel and said not here.  She got off before the roots and I did my hike-a-bike thing, I did not hear anyone call track for a while after that.  I would catch riders and pass many on the tech of the Red trail.  Being shortly after the transition area, many times a new team rider with fresh legs and all full of piss and vinegar, would roll up on me early on the Red trail, call track only succomb to the next steep climb or obstacle.  There was little passing on Red, so at some point each lap, you just played follow the leader, until someone slipped up or let you by.  Dogbone was another thing altogether.  Gearies could usually outpace me and while still limited, opportunities to allow a pass without losing momentum were more available.  On Twister those opportunities were less, but I could carve the corners better than most, so the slightly low gear that was good for 7 laps in the Vortex, allowed me to go fast enough, that few asked to pass.  It was interesting that some Gearie team riders just would catch up somewhere on DogBone, then just follow my wheel.
I switched CamelBaks at 2:45, I packed too much ice in it, so it was too cold and sweet.  It gave me stomach cramps.  Luckily I left a bottle of water on the bike from the start.  I had intended to ditch it.  Glad that I did not.  But lap 4 was a bit slow.  I was on the rivet on lap 5, cause I was moving on Dog Bone, with a pretty fast rider on my wheel.  I would usually rested a bit on Dog Bone, but the cramps were gone, the Powerbar Perform was diluting and oddly enough I was rested from that slower lap.  I continued into Twister and stayed on the gas.  I paid for it on lap 6 and finally got caught by a single speed rider on Dog Bone.  He had a higher gear and pulled away a bit, putting me into what would later prove to be 4th place.  I had one of those team riders pacing off of me at the time.  I could still see 3rd place as we got into Twister.  I knew I could reel him in.  When I did we chatted a bit.  That is when I found out that only laps under 6 hours counted (could not hear the pre race instructions over the chatter) Hmmm.  I knew I was running 47-49 minute laps and that would put the end of lap 6 at about 5 hours 10 minutes, give or take the the Le Mans start, I was going to be tight.  I did some quick math and with Twister winding down, I had to make my move.  I asked to pass and put the burners on.  The announcer seemed surprised, that I was going out for another lap, later another rider went out with 35 to go!  I don't think he made it.  4th place finished his 6th lap a couple minutes after me and called it a day.  But it was a 6 hour race not a 5 hour and 10 minute race.  I thought I could make it, but the math was a little fuzzy after 5 hours of racing, "How long was that Le Mans start?".  I looked at the actual time of day and it seemed like my chances were fleeting.  A guy comes flying by, on a Single Speed.  "It was not that 4th place guy, no couldn't be, he was too fast.  Must be a fresh team guy or elite guy running his back up bike, like I saw earlier, was his bike orange, no it was black I think", I thought to myself.  Back to my math. With my legs threatening to cramp, my thoughts turn to my wife Tammy, "This can't be as bad as she feels almost all the time, you can buck up and work through these measly cramps!"  I refocused and just went for it.  I was back to the pit and onto Roller Coaster, coming up on some slow tired riders.  "He's not pulling over" It would have been so easy to settle on that pace, "I probably missed the cut off anyway.  No, No, ask him to let you pass."  "OK go, up the last hike-a-bike, hold it together through those last two tight switchbacks, now press to the the finish line!"

I never noticed where the big clock was, so I had to ask if I made the cut off?  The announcer said yes by a couple minutes. Yeah!  Sweet!

Sorry this was so long, but it was a 6 hour race after all.

I was 3rd of a small field of 6 Single speeders.
29th out of 115 over all
29th out of 101 men
last to make 7 laps
Only 3 riders made 8 laps

Big Bling

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