Archive for July, 2009

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July 22, 2009

Kulsheim 12 hours of fun

July 22, 2009

Six hours of racing as part of two man team for a twelve hour race sounds fun and easy. Most of the time it is, but when the race is in Germany, and it has rained for the last three months, fun may not be exactly what it will be. I had promised to go and ride with teammate Mike, and was sure that if we both gave everything we had we might make the to 15th or 20th place, so really no pressure except we needed to really help our two solo riders, Mary and Phil.

The race began as expected, wet and muddy, very slippery and less than ideal for racing, and as if to put off my misery, Mike started. Well, he started because I freaking refuse to run at the start of any race. What, do I spend weeks training to run in hard soled slippery shoes so that I can blow out my legs before I get to the bike so some goof ball organizer can yell stuff like look they are running and oh who will get to the bike first? Who cares, I don’t run unless it is cross racing, period. Any way, after Mike did two laps I went out, and found that all the mud that Mike, Marty and Phil had on them wasn’t make-up or fake, it was muddy, so muddy in fact that I was a bit surprised the race hadn’t been postponed.

The laps where 10.8 k long, just a bit over six miles and 225 meters of climbing, for some amount of feet climbed per lap. Mostly single trackish trails really surprised me, as the last time I raced there it was nearly all gravel road, which is one of the biggest reasons I had not gone back. The entire trail could be ridden, and it was reasonably fast and I did enjoy finding rabbits to chase. The guy looking all pro who left five minutes before me, he was the guy I was hunting down, and except for the last lap I did, I caught everyone of them.

You need goals and mine was 10mph on every lap or faster, and I was able to do my 10mph goal, on every lap except one. But that had nothing to do with racing, that had to do with friendship. Marty, who has always surprised me with how fast he is able to go, had for the first time, a bad 12 hour solo effort. I am not sure if he lost interest, the weather, or if he just was having a bad day. It doesn’t matter, really, he did ride the entire race (shortened due to weather) into 14th place. Not bad for a bad day. I happened to catch him on what would be, unknown to me at the time, my last lap. As I passed him, Marty had by now done 10 laps to my five, he looked a little dejected and I decided our 12th place was not as important as riding a bit with Marty.

So we rode around the course talking about this, that and nothing for about 45 minutes. It has been awhile since I have actually ridden with Marty and in spite of how he felt, he seems to ride better and better every time I ride with him.

Back to Mike and I, we had decided to go until the rain came, and when it came it came with a deluge, it was sticking awful! It poured and poured for 30 minutes and the fast course turned into a slimy mess of slippery mud with little or no traction. Mike just happened to be passing the tent as the rain began falling in buckets and dived under the tent. We spoke and sat around for about 10 minutes and Phil came through, riding to 6th overall, looking like he had just gone to a spa for a complete mud bath. Phil said something inspiring and took off. Of course to me I thought he had just lost his mind. It wasn’t that bad? I had been on the course it was that bad. He and Marty too, by this time where literally covered head to toe in mud. At this point Mike and I decided that racing in the rain for a minor placing wasn’t wise and much to my surprise, the race was called, minutes after we had decided to call it quits.

The talk of the day was tire selection, and I must confess, no tire would have been at home in the conditions that we rode in, but my Geax Saguaro (sp) being run at 20 psi for a front tire did far better than I expected, especially considering it is one of my favorite tires for riding here in Italy. I am still impressed by how well it worked. Other than that, all the parts I used worked flawlessly, nothing terribly shocking, as our team has sponsors that make reliable and exceptionally useful parts. Our placing, 22nd or something is a reflection on our desire not to race in pouring rain, rather than anything else. It was wet, I am glad I am not there right now. Today I have to pull the whole bike apart to fix the 1000 creaks and groans it picked up riding in that mud, I may miss riding in Germany, but I don’t miss the weather.

Phil and Marty may not have won, but they sure rode like champions. Both have real jobs and real life responsibilities that keep them from training like the pros, and the fact that both rode until they called the race speaks more about their character than their placing. Mike and I had fun, and we don’t need anymore character, we have cool facial hair!

SiS is next! Can’t wait.