Place: 4th, Men's Solo
Stoke Level: HIGH
The 2013 12 Hours of Mesa Verde was underway and I was happy to finally be racing after many months of staring at “May 11th, 2013” on my calendar. In my previous four years of racing solo at Mesa Verde, I have had one bad race and three good races. A “great” race at Mesa Verde has eluded me and I signed up for 2013 in search of that great race.
|Although I am standing in the middle, I took 4th place|
What is my definition a great race at Mesa Verde? 8 Laps. It looks so simple on paper but for me to do 8 laps at Mesa Verde meant that I needed to shave 42 minutes from my personal best in order to make the 6pm last-lap cutoff. I kept going back to the following stat: I needed to average 1:34:00 per lap, for 7 laps, in order to make the 6 pm cutoff. My all-time fastest lap at Mesa Verde, in four years of racing, was a 1:35:18. Yikes! Oh, and I was going to be racing self-supported too.
Have I mentioned that I LOVE the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde? I love everything about it: The course is pure greatness, the overall vibe is festive, and the organizers seem to do a little more each year to make this race even better than the previous year. However, the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde is not all rainbows and unicorns. The course is like Jekyll & Hyde. Parts of the course will make your lower back, hands, and the balls of your feet hurt like never before while others parts will leave you with perma-grin…and then you do it all over again.
|Pre-Filled hydration packs, ready to rock|
I had no choice but to start faster than I normally do. I didn’t drive all the way to Cortez, CO to do seven fucking laps…again. I was either going to do eight laps or blow up spectacularly and I was ok with it. This was uncharted territory for me. As I mentioned above, the LeMan’s start didn’t go exactly as planned but I was surprisingly calm and I passed riders when I could without being a jerk or wasting a lot of energy. After riding all of Lap 1 in traffic, I was surprised when I looked down at my Garmin and saw 1:30:14. Ok, now I had something to build on.
Laps 2-4 were a blur for me but I do remember one thing; I was getting passed less than normal and I wasn’t getting passed by solo riders. This was encouraging. My strategy was working so far but I knew it was still early. My pit stops were fast: Drop off the hydration pack, grab 300-350 calories and drop them in my Mountain Feedbag, grab a new pre-filled hydration pack from the cooler, and roll out. This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco….
In the back of my mind was the threat of thunderstorms. I really don’t mind riding in the rain and I have good gear for it. However, dealing with a muddy bike while self-supported is not ideal. Plus, my low back seems to get especially grumpy when it’s cold. Halfway through Lap 6 it looked like we might be in for some serious rain. It started raining hard enough to make the trails greasy, the rocks slippery, and my body started to get cold. A lightweight rain jacket took the chill off but I had to slow way down in the grease for the 2nd half of Lap 6 and my lap time suffered. Luckily, the rain was short-lived and full-speed racing resumed for Lap 7.
I really wish I knew exactly what happened to my body on Lap 7. My brain said “go faster” but my body said “fuck you, this is all we got right now”. I probably got dehydrated AND a little behind on calories. I felt like I was going backwards and I was battling a little tummy distress. In hindsight, I should have been drinking a little more plain water throughout the day. Halfway through Lap 7 I realized that I was going to have plenty of time to go out for Lap 8 and that perked me up a bit. The other thing that perked me up was the 20oz bottle of black goodness that had been waiting for me in my cooler all day. Pepsi. Damn it tasted good as I rode away from my pit to start my last lap.
But I wasn’t done. I still had 16 miles of Phil’s World singletrack to ride and hopefully retain whatever place I had ridden myself into by that point. My last lap was awesome for several reasons:
- The sun was setting and the post-thunderstorm light was amazing
- The realization that I was going to achieve my goal of doing 8 laps was sinking in
- Several team riders, many of whom I had chatted with earlier in the day, were coming around me on their final lap and were full of positive energy as they went by
- Mmmm, Pepsi
And then, with only 3 miles to go, I had to pee. WTF? Who stops to pee on their last lap? I tried to block it out but it became evident that if I didn’t pull over I was going to have an accident in my bib shorts. I was so nervous that I was going to get passed by a solo racer while peeing…but that didn’t happen. I rolled into the packed timing building at 7:22pm with 8 laps and an empty tank. Perfect.