In 2009, I missed the race because I was in Singapore. Long transit to make it to a race......
This year, I was ready. I made plans early to make sure there were no conflicts of any kind and then started practicing at Herbs. The race when finally announced was set to run clockwise around the lake. This is backwards of what most of us ride the trail, so we started practicing that way. After 2 months of clockwise riding, it was announced (the week before the race) that it would be run counter clockwise!!!! Surprise surprise!!!!
Somewhere in there, my buddy Ken mentioned he wanted a teammate. We're pretty evenly matched, and he's a great guy, so we had a team.
Race day arrived, and it was 43 degrees at the racecourse. Myself and the rest of my Journeymen Racing Team hit the site and managed to set up camp with a great pit area right by the start/finish line.
Ken and I decided to flip for the first lap and he won. That was good news for me, because I'm not a runner, and this race had a 100 yard run to a Lemans style start!
Ken rocked the first lap, and we had a great start.
I jumped hard at the start line and took off on my first lap. In that lap, I passed approx 15 people as I pushed hard around the course. Everything went perfectly for that lap. Kens 2nd and my 2nd were also great laps as we were consistently putting up fast lap times. We were also pushing the other Journeymen 2 man team of Zach/Kurt and leading them by approx 5 mins.
Ken's third lap went well, and the handoff was fast, so I sailed into my 3rd lap with a lot of confidence........ and a full bladder. I listened behind me for any other riders and there was no one near me, so I slid to a stop, unclicked one foot and watered the trail.... Phil Ligget would call that a Natural Break I guess.
2 Miles later, everything started to come undone. I heard some tinking from my back wheel and felt the bike jump a couple times under me. I stopped immediately and thought a stick would be in my spokes. 3 or 4 people passed me that I had just passed and I felt like an idiot. Then I saw the trouble... One broken drive-side spoke. To make matters worse, the stub of that spoke jammed into the back of the cassette and made my bike a fixed gear!
I finished the 2nd half of that 9 mile lap in fixed gear mode. When I got done with the lap, we still held a 4-5 gap on the next two teams. I'm glad I did not give up. Once in the pits, I found that the rear wheel was taco'ed enough to make the rear brakes rub a lot. No wonder my legs were burnt up.
With the Sugar out of commission, I pulled the cyclocross bike from the truck and aired up the tires. I had thrown the bike in the back as an afterthought. Turned out to be a good thought!
Unfortunately, I was not paying attention and Ken came flying into the pits early. He turned a great lap and I was not ready. As he hit the finish line, I managed to get my helmet on and the bike out of the repair stand. As I ripped onto the course, I could hear someone say 'Is he riding a road bike?'. I got a good laugh out of that.
In my hurry to get on the course, I did not get on my jersey, nor did I get my gloves on. However, that was all negated by the ability to freewheel! I rode the course just like I did all last summer on the cross bike and enjoyed everyminute of it. Zach and Darren from the two other teams were right there ready to start when I left for this lap, so I kept looking over my shoulder continually to see if they'd appear out of no where.
All my shoulder looking was no use though, as I rode into the finish with a hard sprint. When I got back to the finish line, a bunch of the fast racers asked if I had ridden that thing in the race and I told them I had. I think they were a little surprised.
In the end, Ken and I did not win, but we had a good time and I think we were in the top half of the teams in the race, maybe even the top 5.
'Til next year!