Here we go again...another race with rain predicted. The second stop of the Chainbuster Racing 6/12 Hour Endurance series was this past weekend at Ft. Yargo state park in Winder, GA. I skipped this race last year (which was a mudfest from what I hear) for the disaster that was DSG 2009 up in Tennesee. I decided to go for it this year mostly because I could not come up with a reason not to. Additionally, the Burn 24 Hour is in less than one month and I felt I needed one long ride under my belt....and there is no way in hell I am doing a 12 hour ride by myself at some local trail.
We got the same hotel as in March when we went up to the Heritage Park race. The one difference was the most poorly designed handicap shower I have seen....no slant for the thing to drain, curtain bowed out but the tub did not. Just horrible- flooded most of the bathroom after the race. Back to bikes. I felt good coming up to this race, got in a hundred miler on my fixed gear the Sunday before the race with way more climbing than should have been on a ride of that sort. Took the rest of last week off and hoped for the legs to come around by race day.
After about 2 hours of fitful sleep we got over to Fort Yargo to get everything set up. I caught a couple glances of the trail driving in which would be a good preview of the rest of the race- super fast, buff singletrack with just enough nasty roots to keep you on your toes. I met up with Lee who we shared a pit with and he asked how many laps I was shooting for. Ummmmm. Not real sure so I threw out 9 as a number. The course measured out at 11.7 miles with 1600 feet of climbing (whoah). Lap 1 was super fast (over in 56 minutes) with tons of jumps and swoopy fast singletrack in and out of the woods. I had a local guy riding behind me giving me a veritable play by play on every trail feature coming my way. This would normally agitate me but he knew this thing inside and out, thanks Slo Mo whatever your real name might be. Lap 2 had me bumping up on 170 on my heart rate monitor again on most every climb. I felt fine at that point but knew I was digging a deep, deep hole for the next 10 hours.
The next lap I focused on just riding steady and not wasting energy and turned out a 1:07 which felt a little more doable. It was around this point where I fell into a groove where I was going just hard enough to not worry about how much time I had left to ride. Before I left Birmingham I grabbed a couple "just in case" gels that I doubted I would need. Turns out Ft Yargo had just enough roots to loosen the gel flask in my bag on the handlebars. Five ounces of Karo syrup, sea salt, and chocolate can and will get on everything given about ten minutes- this was disgusting and left me wondering how the hell a flask can unscrew itself. I had no idea what place I was in and on Lap 6 another singlespeeder caught up to me. This guy (Helmet Mirror Man) has beaten me in a few other races and I figured it was a matter of minutes before he rode away from me. We rode together most of that lap then he stopped in the pit. I would not see him again until the end of the race. After this lap the calculation began. Crunching lap times from the first half of the race to figure out how many laps was doable- ten seemed like a good guess so I ran with it and really hoped I would not have time to go out for an eleventh.
I came by the pit after Lap 8 to put on my lights and Melissa told me I was in first. I wasted no time and got back on the trail staring over my shoulder at every opening in the woods. My legs felt good but my hands were getting pounded by the roots and one of my toenails felt like it was slowly detatching itself from the rest of my foot. As I went out for my last lap the trail was getting quite deserted, I only saw a couple team riders still out there. They were easy to tell from the Solo guys- MUCH happier and cleaner. Every time I saw a light I tried to put a little more through the pedals but I was paying the price for not walking any climbs earlier in the day. My quads started the twitches that inevitably develop into cramps given enough time. I came up on another solo rider who said he was in second place in the Expert field. As I passed him the thought of winning this thing became a real possibility. I hammered the rest of this lap through the dark woods and came out into the clearing for the timing area in a little over eleven hours. No way to get another lap but it didn't matter a bit because I was the first singlespeed across and second place was over thirty minutes back at this point.
Ended the day (and night I guess) as 1st place Singlespeed and 2nd Overall with 117 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing. Lee ended up in 4th riding a rigid ss, dude has to have arms of steel! Super stoked to have finally won a long race like this and felt quite good the last few laps. Gives me some hope for the upcoming 24. We'll see.