Matt Donahue

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

12 Hours of Lodi

The 12 Hours of Lodi Farms is a race of firsts for me. Four years ago it was my first cross country race ever. I did duo with my buddy JB. While there is no race report for that one, I'll say that it was the greatest physical effort I'd ever done at that point in my life. On top of that it poured for the entire race. We stuck it out and finished 3rd? in beginner probably because the rest of the field quit. Somehow that camaraderie/sufferfest with JB gave birth to my addiction to mtb racing.

Last year it was the first mountain bike race that ever sent me to the hospital. For more on that, see that post.

This year's 12 Hours was the first completely dry Lodi race that I've participated in (AT LAST) and the first race where I've been on the winning team.

My team consisted of Mike (fellow CBer) and Jonathan. We cobbled ourselves together after a few odd events, Joe breaking his clavicle and bad email communication with CityBikesMike. There's more behind all of this, but our team was an evolution of sorts. We named ourselves "Not Klasmeier's Team" in honor of our email miscommunication.

Cutting to the chase, I volunteered to go first and do the LeMans start- which was extended to a half mile run from about 100 yards in previous years. The half mile is fine, but for the bottleneck that occurred after the run took the group into the single track. Evan and I stupidly lined up at the back of the pack and had to stop and wait to get into the single track during the run. More people to pass on the bike I suppose.

Once on the bike, things started improving. Right off the bat I started passing folks. There is about a 300+? yard double track through the camp site before the course turns to single track which afforded the opportunity to launch a quick sprint and get around 10-15 riders. Once into the tight stuff it was slow going- with lots of twisty up hill. I was behind Single Speed soloist Markie for all of this section, JoeP passed me on a sweet log hop. Shortly thereafter I made a bad shift and jammed my chain on the course's short steep grassy uphill and had to hop off and un-jam. Needless to say this prompted some serious commentary from the SS gallery. "Nice gears Matty." Great.

Thankfully there was no major issue and I was back on in no time. Another positive was that the course headed out into the open field section of the course where there is the best opportunity for passing and big rigning- good thing.

I recall Evan catching up to me at some point in the second half of lap one. Then I caught him with his bike upside down. He became Mr. Mechanical.

My team agreed to double up on our night laps- more sleep for those not riding. Lap two felt a lot worse than lap one but less traffic in the trails. I felt kinda weak and my back was cramping. It turned out that my camelback was too tight, thus the cramping in my back. At least that is what I am attributing the cramping to. I ended up with some massive rash-abrasions on my armpits, lovely. It's weird not to notice this stuff happening during the ride.

I ate and went straight to bed, looking forward to some hours of sleep before 5:20.

Around 4:20 I was awakened by Mike's return from his two laps (numbers 3 and 4). He was pissed. His main light failed at the beginning(?) of his second lap which caused him to have a much longer lap. His return was angry and depressed. In a sleepy state I mumbled something like "it's a long race." Our fellow City Bikes team "Klasmeiere's team" was in first. They were happy.

Jonathan headed out and I gradually awakened. I greatly overestimated how long it would take Jonathan to complete his two laps. He rode past as I was pulling up my bike shorts in my tent. Crap. Several people were yelling my name. I was rushing. I didn't have anything together. Jonathan came back to camp and I had hastily dressed, stuck some shit in my pockets, begged for some tire levers and headed out.

I turned out that we were in first at this point. I cost us about 6 or so minutes with my non prep. I headed out and felt much better than I had before. Not sure whether it was the light (the sun was up) or the rest I had. Either way, it was a great lap. Klasmeier's team was after me. Kent was chasing hard behind me for the entire lap to regain first. Because the course loops so much, you end up seeing people behind you by passing them with literally only tape and a few saplings separating you. I was sure he would catch me and this fueled my effort to push it at every opportunity. He made up a few minutes on me but did not catch me.

I handed off to Mike still in first. It was on.

I refueled and got myself together. It turned out that I had ridden that lap without pulling my bib up. Whatever, it was probably my fastest lap.

Lap 4 was good. I don't really remember much.

Lap 5 came after much discussion with the second place team. Klasmeier wanted to know if we were going to contest for a final lap, something about riding it together came up. I just wanted to race, and keep it going. My teammates had ridden hard. We were in first and I wanted to keep it that way. So I rode my final lap hard. Probably not as hard as others but hard enough to remain solidly in first. I had never won a mountain bike race and was totally psyched to be on the verge of winning one.

Lap 5 was fun, I had a 15 minute lead so the necessity was to not crash or have a mechanical, so ride it smooth buddy. I repeated that over and over. Just ride smooth.

It was a great race. We all had a blast and were totally happy about winning. Yeah we were very far ahead of the other sport teams, but we all had no idea where we would fall. We had fun, rode hard and were psyched about the race.

It also didn't rain for a change.

Big thanks to the Lodi promoter. The put on a great race and we're lucky to have it. Also big shout to the Old Dominion team for a great showing and the beer.

Jonathan headed on his laps and I continued my sleep, happy that my next lap would be in the daylight.


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