Last weekend was supposed to be the 24 Hour National Championships at Big Bear, but after some shady excuses from the promoter, the event was canceled, leaving a pack bicycle racers full of gu and anger.
The Big Bear2X12 was created to fill the void left by the 24 hour. The race consisted of a really confusing name, duo teams, six twelve mile laps per team, and a $1000 prize in each category. Rob and I teamed up for the event, and I was confident that we could be victorious, even with a fast SS class that included a team of national champions. Even still, Rob required coaxing, so I promised that if he did the 2X12 with me, I would go to Stoopid 50 with him the next day. It sounded like a fun idea.
Rob picked me up in the Greensburg, and we headed down to WV with offical pghracing.org reporter Benjamin "the official pghracing.org reporter" Stephens. We stopped at a Sheetz so I could pick up some riding glasses, and Ben took a rather stalkerish photo of me exiting the building:
(Pghracing's finest cycling coverage.)
When we got to Big Bear, we had to wait in line to do our second registration and legal paper signing. The line was moving quickly, and pretty soon the annoyed looking helper lady got to us.
"Team name?" she asked
"EAT ME." Rob replied.
Not amused, she stared at us for a few seconds. "Yeah. I did see that one in there. I should have assigned you 69. Here." she shoved a red relay stick at us and two number plates. "Are you both over 21?"
I told her that Rob wasn't, and we tried to explain that we weren't going to stick around for the party anyway, because we were heading to State college to race the next day. "Well that's just stupid." she replied.
We drove the rest of the way up the road and got Rob's little easy up popped up next to a few of the other SS teams. The clearing where everyone was camped was huge and covered in sand and fire ants. It looked like a desert in the middle of the forest. The wind was blowing, and Rob didn't have stakes for the tent. He tied it to the plastic fender of his Jetta to keep it from blowing away.
The race started at the bottom of the big gravel road that we had just driven up, so after I got myself all changed I headed down to the line. Seconds before the race started, Gunnar came bombing down the hill, and as soon as he crossed the line in the wrong direction, we were off.
Everybody's crushing it up the hill, fighting for the hole shot. I enter the woods about 10 riders back, and I'm not able to work up the steam to pass for almost 15 minutes. The fields flying. I guess a $1000 prize is powerful incentive to go fast.
I finally start to get some passes, and work my way up to fifth. The course is damp and soft. Even flat ground is hard to ride with all the resistance in the soil. The rocks are everywhere. I'm digging it.
We hit the big chunky downhill on the course, and I bump and bounce my way down it and catch up to Jason Cyr and JPok. I pass Jason on the next climb and move into 4th. The rest of the course is a false flat, and I feel like I'm not going anywhere even though I'm working like crazy. The soil is so loamy.
I pass the WV Night Club's tent in the woods, and ride over their sweet jump, satisfying their request to "Huck it!"
(I landed on my front wheel, but this picture sure makes it look like I know what I'm doing.)
I finish the lap and hand the stick to Rob. Go over and look at the clock. We're already 4 minutes behind the Wes S. and Gerry Pflug national champion team. Nuts. I'm not very confident anymore. Oh wells.
I wonder how Rob's lap is going. Looks like it's going frowny:
I head back to the pop up to drink a starbucks frappuchino and eat some chex mix. Rob Spreng (enemy Rob, not team mate Rob) and I talk about the lap while lying in camp chairs. It only feels like a few minutes, but it's already been an hour, so we head back to the exchange zone to go out for the next lap.
Evan Perone passed teammate Rob during the lap, so enemy Rob gets to go out before me. I spend my lap trying to catch him, but I never see the guy. I feel better than I did the first lap, but I'm pretty sure that's only because I'm going slower. Mike "vaginas are cool" Cordaro is on my ass for most of the lap.
Try to pass a sport rider, but he has ear buds in both ears, music blasting. I ring my bell and yell at him, but he still doesn't hear me. I go for the pass and he jumps out of the way. "Oh sorry man!" he blurts.
"It's ok man. Just put it in one ear." I doubt he hears me.
I come back to the exchange zone and Rob goes out for his second lap. I repeat the sitting and relaxing routine for a few minutes, then the announcer comes on the loud speaker.
"Folks, just so you know, there is a thunderstorm on the way, and there are 40 mph winds. Get your stuff tied down."
Dammit man. I'm so sick of rain. I pack up the pop up and put all the chairs in the car. It starts to rain, and Ben and I get inside the sun heated Jetta. It starts to pour. "Well now how do you feel about going out for your lap?" he asks.
"Like shit." I reply. But I have to, so I head out into the rain.
Rob comes back, and I go for the last lap. It's dumping rain. Now the course is muddy and slippery. I'm having a good time at first, but after the big downhill I hit the false flat again and feel like I'm going even slower than before. I am. It's so slow. It feels like a continuation of Mohican last week.
I end the lap covered in mud and 14 minutes slower than my 1st lap. I didn't lose any places, but I didn't gain any either. The sun comes out. I go get in the shower wearing my full kit and shoes. I'm done for the day. We're sitting in forth.
Rob finishes his lap in about the same amount of time I did mine and we get packed up and ready to head for State College. We grab some food and hang out for a little before we leave.
50 miles of rocks tomorrow. We're not so sure that it sounds like a fun idea anymore.
And I won (actually I came in 2nd. but 2nd is still a win when you only need to be top 4) the Breck Epic Bloggers Grant Competition. I'm going to Breck! Hells yeah! I can't wait. Thanks a ton if you took the time to vote for me.
The Big Bear race was a great event. Super course, and the 6 lap format was perfect. Long enough, but not too long. I liked it a lot. Stoopid 50 report tomorrow. All photos stolen from Ben Stephens or the facebook.