VICTORY AT QUANTICO! Today I am reporting on racing of another kind. As many people may know cycling is one of my favorite sports and mountain biking was actually responsible for my initial involvement in go-karts six years ago. I recently ...
VICTORY AT QUANTICO!
Today I am reporting on racing of another kind. As many people may know cycling is one of my favorite sports and mountain biking was actually responsible for my initial involvement in go-karts six years ago. I recently competed in a 12 hour mountain bike endurance race (12 Hours of Cranky Monkey). My team, webmountainbike.com, competed in the three person sport male category. I was fortunate to be teamed with good friends and exceptional riders, Mike Macek and Mike Simon.
Our team arrived at Quantico Marine Corps Base on Friday June 27th to pre ride the course. The 10.7 mile course was very challenging and featured several different surface conditions including mud, loose soil, hard packed dirt, gravel, and even sand. The course also featured some very challenging climbs and steep technical descents. The course was truly demanding with few areas to recover and conserve. After riding a lap of the course we had better understanding of the challenges we were to face and how we would plan our strategy for the race the next day.
Saturday morning we woke up early to prepare for the 8am race start. It was decided that I would ride first and complete the 400 yard run to my bike which all first lap riders had to accomplish at the start of the race. I knew that I had to get a good start and be in the front group of riders going into the woods. After completing the run and entering the woods the ride was pretty congested until about mile five when traffic started to thin out. After completing my first lap Mike Simon picked up and put in a good lap followed my Mike Macek. We would continue in this order throughout the race. My teammates and I were putting in some fast and consistent lap times and had not had a single problem thus far.
Around hour four we were in third position behind team Marines Corps 1 and team Coppi. On my second lap I passed the marines for second place but we were passed back on the next lap by a Marine who put in a blisteringly fast lap. A few hours went by and the order had shuffled around with Marine Corps 1 leading and Coppi in second, while webmountainbike.com was in third.
On my third lap I caught a Coppi rider on one of the climbs when at the top of the hill a bracket holding the hydraulic brake line broke. This left the hydraulic line slapping against the front tire with the risk of it breaking the line as a result. In a moment of quick thinking I instantly stopped and removed one of the twist ties that was holding my number plate on and used it to secure to loose line. This only took mere seconds to complete as I was back on my way. Because I had stopped the Coppi rider had pulled away but I shortly caught him again on one of the descents. As we transitioned onto a fire road, I had an open opportunity to overtake but decided to stay behind as he started to increase his pace. I knew what I was capable of at that point and that we still had hours left in the race so I watched as he pulled away. About a mile or two later I rode by the Coppi rider as he was stopped at the top of a long climb. This put team webmountainbike.com in second place. Mike Simon Passed Marine Corps 1 on his next lap and Mike Macek increased our lead.
As I prepared to go out for my fourth and final lap I was pretty tired having already completed nearly 33 miles of the grueling course and more than three hours of fast paced riding. I knew I still had the energy to continue and set out with the goal of maintaining the pace that I had been setting throughout the day. At this point the Marines had dropped back to third and Coppi was now in second. I gave up one minute of our lead to the second place team on my last lap, handing the last lap of the race over to Mike Simon with a three minute gap on second and a four minute gap on third. Mike was able to gain over six minutes on his last lap and secure the class victory for team webmountainbike.com. Team Coppi came in second about 10 minutes later and the Marines would finish third one minute after Coppi. While we had won our class we had also finished eight overall out of the 178 teams entered in the race.
It was a great experience which taught me a lot about endurance racing. I would like to thank my team mates Mike Simon and Mike Macek for their awesome performances as well as their support over the years. I would also like to thank Kirk Simon and Stan Manstof for their support as well.
I will step back into a race car the weekend of July 26 -- 27 when I travel to Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon to compete in the third round of the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup. I will be making an appearance at King Volkswagen in Gaithersburg Maryland on the morning of July 19 taking part in a ride and drive with customers in the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, so be sure to stop by to experience some of Volkswagen's latest diesel technology first hand.