Photo Cred

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The 12 Hours... No, 8 Hours... Uhh, 6 Hours of Disco!

The Stats:
  • 10 laps
  • 84.15 miles
  • 10,800' of elevation gain
  • 6:19:46 on course
  • 1st-Place Solo Male
  • # of wrecks: 1

The 12 Hours of Disco whimpered its way to the start line on Saturday morning, and went off with a whistle rather than a bang.  (Given the number of shotguns at the base area there actually may have been mucho bangs but I didn't hear them in my mad sprint to my bike and out onto the course.)  More on that in a bit.

As I like to do for races that involve some travel, we showed up in Salmon, Idaho a day early to give me a chance to pre-ride the course and for us to have a day to enjoy one of the area's many hot springs.

And then it rained.

A lot.

My Thursday evening pre-ride was actually great (it preceded the rain), and got me all stoked up to race.  The intent was to enjoy a low-intensity spin and get to know the course, but the trails were so buff and fast and I was having so much fun that I kept finding myself riding harder than intended to keep the fun and flow high.  The course was definitely the highlight of the weekend's event, and the LESter ate it up.  I've never had a bike that feels like such a natural fit and makes high-speed riding so fun!

Sometime Thursday night I heard a patter start up on the truck roof, and when I got up to make coffee on Friday morning it felt downright Irish.  My parents would have called it "soft weather".

So we bailed on our hike-in-to-a-hot-spring plan and drove to one instead.  As the day progressed emails and text messages flew around wondering about whether the race would go off or not.  Then sometime in the afternoon word came from race organizer Max that it was happening, but with a 10am start instead of 7 (to give the trails a chance to dry out a bit in the morning) and a yet-to-be-determined abbreviated format.

Maybe a 4-mile loop of dirt roads for 6 hours?  Yuck.  Maybe an 8.5-mile loop of singletrack for 8 hours?  That sounds better...

Photo: Gene Marcowka
The late start turned out to be perfect--things were still a little soupy when we showed up around 8, but were rolling quite nicely by the time we rolled out for 8 hours of racing on (roughly) the original 8.5-mile loop.  For once I managed to get off the line fast and onto singletrack with the lead pack.  There were maybe 6 of us, mostly singlespeeders, with a few guys from the Pro Leisure Team that I've gotten to ride with in Boise--these guys rip!  Really fun romping around the first lap with them.

And then they swapped out with their teammates and I was the lone solo rider up front.  Laps 2 and 3 felt a bit harder, then on Lap 4 I had finally warmed up and was flowing.  Fast spinning on winding singletrack through fields of sagebrush is rad.

At the start of Lap 5, Erica (the Ultimate Superhot Support Crew) 

 told me that I was 7 minutes up on the next soloist at the last trip through base, so I figured I'd push a bit to see if I could open up the gap.  Then at the next lap I was 6 minutes up, then 4 minutes, then 3.5 minutes.  Who was this guy?  I felt like I was pushing hard and he just kept closing on me!

Having a great time despite a shrinking lead!

It's weird getting 40-minute old information about how the gap looked a lap prior, but Erica certainly helped me stay on the gas through the second half of the race.  After Lap 7 she yelled that I wasn't drinking enough, and she turned out to be right--everything felt better once I focused on taking in more liquid.  What a manager.

Heading out for Lap 9 I learned that I had opened the gap back up to 7 minutes--phew!

I also noticed really dark clouds rolling in.  The wind had been kicking for a while and we had a brief shower during Lap 8, but I could tell we were going to get really wet once the wall of doom reached us.

And then Lap 10--full-on rain.  A screaming fast singletrack downhill in the first mile was total grease (snot-on-a-marble, as my best friend Dave likes to say)--I barely made the hard right turn at the bottom.  I was fortunate that the course was mostly just wet and slick, and allowed me to hammer through it for what turned out to be my final lap.  Not long after that it turned from grease to gumbo.

Rolling into the finish of my last lap.

They called it at 4pm, and pretty much everybody who came through the finish after me had picked up pounds of wet clay on their bikes and bodies.  Alex Phipps snapped off his rear derailleur within 100' of the finish, trying to shift a mud-packed drivetrain on the last climb.  The mud was virtually unrideable, and more bikes were carried over the finish line than were pushed.  Racers walking up the final climb were wiping out face-first in the mud.  Brutal.

Jason celebrates a muddy Duo Team win, and a hilarious fashion sense.

But eventually everybody made it in, and I won the Solo division!  My first overall win--pretty fun having a singlespeed take the day.  (I took 1st-Place Solo at the Knobby 9-to-5 last year, but somehow that felt less legit with me racing in the Singlespeed division rather than the Open.)  I was disappointed to see the Duo teams all scored together instead of being broken out into Male/Female/Mixed--the teams that won definitely raged, but there were some really strong women's teams that received no recognition.  Lame.

An informal podium.

For myself, it felt good to see this season's training produce a strong performance, and to have a mechanical-free race.  Huge thanks to Pivot, American ClassicEndless Bikes, Loaded Precision, and Crank Brothers for helping me build the LESter into my dream machine!

Sunday's recovery.  I love hot springs.
Now it's back to training and getting myself ready for this year's Knobby 9-to-5 on June 8th.

And a bit of late-season ski mountaineering in the Wind Rivers...  (That counts as training, right?)