Just some thoughts and experiences from a mountain bike endurance racer who likes to ride and race his single speed mountain bike a long long way on remote single track in the mountains and desert.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

12 Hours of Mesa Verde 2012 1st place overall solo finish on a singlespeed

This year at the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde in Cortez Colorado I was able to get the overall solo win on my singlespeed.  This is my hometown trail which I helped build so I guess there is probably some advantage but that didn’t seem to make the climbs any easier.  I wasn’t the first to get the overall.  Dave Harris crushed it in 2009 beating the geared rider by just a few minutes.  www.12hoursofmesaverde.com

This is a great course and race venue.  Phil's World is a true mountain biker course with technical riding.  It would be difficult for a mountain biker impersonator to make it on the podium here relying only on fitness although fitness is obviously a huge factor.  The course is so much fun and has a ton of ups and downs without any huge sustained climbs.  This is one of the reasons that fatigue sneaks up on you and then just kicks you in the teeth at some point during the race and you just need to power through it or your done.  Most podium solo efforts end up with over 11,700' of elevation gain!

The event is based at the fairgrounds in Cortez Colorado which is conveniently connected to the Phil’s World mountain bike trail system.  100% of the proceeds go to local non-profits that serve our youth.  The entire race committee are unpaid volunteers.  This year the race sold out in 36 hours last winter.  There were over 800 racers that were either solo, duo or 3-4 person team members.  There was 2000-3000 people at the event overall this year!
I rode a total of 8 laps (131 miles) and ran 32x19 gearing on my 29r singlespeed with Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires front and rear.  Setup worked great!

The race started with a short run to where a mess of bikes were laying everywhere.  From past mistakes I knew that bike placement was important.  I saw one guy just looking around confused unable to find his bike after a huge effort in the run.

The course is almost entirely single track but the first lap utilizes roads around the fairgrounds and some 4wd roads bypassing the typical singletrack start in an effort to spread racers out.  Once on the single track, passing is difficult for the first half of the first lap.  I made an effort to get a good spot in line with a strong effort (for me) on the road sections.  For a solo attempt the congestion isn’t terrible and I think it helps me not to go to hard initially.  Half way through the lap the congestion seemed to dissipate and passing was easier.

After the second lap I was in second place and shortly after caught up to Mike Scott and passed him to move into 1st place on the stinking springs loop.  I thought I’d established a decent lead on him when I was in the rib cage section but he showed back up on my tail at the end of the lap and passed me at the check in.  I caught back up to him not far into the 4th lap and stayed a short distance behind.  When I was comfortable that I could get by him again and go faster than the pace he had been setting I made the pass.

On the fifth lap I had a teenager I had just passed give me a cheer when I caught some pretty good air and whipped a pancake off a jump.  Not too often a 41 year old can impress a teenager.  That was pretty cool!

I had been going back and forth with the guy who eventually ended up 2nd in the geared category.  On the 6th lap just after I passed him I flipped straight over the bars on a tricky rock drop and hit my knee hard.  It really hurt and I felt like throwing up.  After getting back on my bike my knee was in pain, my stomach was queasy and for some reason my legs really cramped up.  I just rode through it and over the following ten minutes it gradually felt better until I was able to hammer it again.  I passed him back up and that was the last time I saw him.

On the 7th lap I passed the 1st place geared solo Yuki Ikeda who was alongside the trail.  He had put in a phenomenal effort up to that point and then apparently never finished that lap.

This same lap I was taking my typical route down the center of the big rock drop after “Bead Tree” when something made my rear wheel fly sideways.  While I was inevitably going down I somehow grabbed a large tree limb at the bottom of the drop just before hitting the ground which prevented a potentially bad crash.  I had a difficult time actually getting back upright because of the precarious position I ended up in but managed to do it and rode away luckily unscathed.

I really had to give myself a little talk at this point to ride conservatively for the final 8th lap.  I had ridden around 115 miles by that point and was starting to make some mistakes.

By the 8th lap I was pretty sure I could win the race as long as I didn’t make a mistake and put in a strong effort.  I wasn’t sure how far back Mike was but I rode the lap like he was on my tail.

It was great to roll across the finish getting first place in my hometown.  Hat’s off the guys I was racing against.  Nice job to everyone on the podium Jody Elovitz, Mike Scott, Steve Reiter and Matt Turgeon!  Strong effort and tough competition!!!  

Congratulations to my Kokopelli Bike & Board teammates:  Cat Morrison 1st singlespeed female with 7 laps http://www.girls4dirt.blogspot.com/, Jeff Fox & Terry Gorsuch 3rd in Duo singlespeed, Tr Larson 6th in singlespeed solo, Jeff Hemperley 10th in singlespeed solo, Paul Adams 14th in singlespeed solo, Jess Arie 20th in singlespeed solo.

Nice press at http://www.cortezjournal.com/article/20120515/SPORTS07/705159949/Bikers-endure-12-Hours-of-Mesa-Verde-race and http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com/view.php/12-hours-of-mesa-verde-2.html

My wife Dani (The race director) and everyone else who generously volunteered their time did an excellent job on the race which continues to be one of the best organized and fun events I have done!!! Good times!

The singlespeed podium: (left to right) Dani Gregory (Race director), Shawn Gregory 1st, Matt Turgeon 5th, Steve Reiter 4th, Mike Scott 3rd, Jody Elovitz 2nd.  Thanks for the pic Simon Zmyslinski
Part of the venue, Phil's World trail is in the background.  Thanks Linda Robinson
Great pic by Stacy Smith from Wildcat studios