Friday, April 15, 2011

Baker's Dozen 2011 Edition

Saturday April 9th marked the 5th annual Baker's Dozen on the historic Rockland Farm in Leesburg, VA. This would be my first race on the farm and Kim's second. We were looking forward to a great weekend away with some fun racing bikes mixed in there.

We climbed into the XTerra just before lunch time on Friday in good spirits, despite the fact that it was cold and rainy here in good ole Dub C. Hopes were high that 150 miles to the South, things would be a bit more cheerful. They weren't. It rained the entire drive and after a couple hours, our conversations and thoughts turned from: "It'll be warm and sunny and dry because its Virginia" and "I think it's clearing up!" to "it's cold and wet and we're mudders; these are our ideal conditions!" We were thinking positive either way and looking forward to toeing the line the next day.

As we pulled into the pasture, we found a decent pit area on high-ish ground and started to set up shop. Dodging rain drops and cow pies, we pitched our tent. We debated setting up the "camping" tent and scoffed at the thought of camping here, on this night. The $60 or so spent for a room at the Hilton turned out to be the best 60 bucks I've spent this year. Score.

As we finished setting up, the mud had already claimed its first victim... a big ass box truck.

And Yeah... those clowns are trying to push that 20,000 pound truck; up hill, in the muddy cow shit, in the pouring rain. I thought about offering to hook them up to the XTerra and pulling them out. I thought about it for a minute... but gladly dismissed the thought when I overheard that some farm equipment had already been dispatched to rescue them.

The rain stopped for a minute, so we swiftly kitted up. Just before pushing off, we ran into Benny the Jewler and crew who were just wrapping up their pre-rides. It was nice to see some familiar faces and despite their advice to bag the pre-ride we were set on getting in a lap. As luck would have it, our pre-ride lap was great. It was super muddy, super slick, super FUN. Feeling good about how fun our lap was, we cleaned up in our hotel room shower (can't imagine how miserable I'd be if we were camping...) and went out for some grub. We relaxed at Brewer's Alley with some good food and a couple decent IPA's.

The Race

Saturday morning we made a Starbucks run for some coffee and a breakfast sandwich before driving to the farm. I'm surprisingly relaxed as I roll to the start line. Mister Twenty20 and I line up together and awkwardly exchange a few words... then just like that, the 13 hour race was under way.

As always, my strategy seems simple: sit back so I don't blow up... This is a 13 hour race, after all. That first lap isn't gonna make it or break it, ya know? I'm third into the woods and hot on Gunnar's wheel. So much for my race strategy. It felt like we were movin' pretty good considering the super slick conditions. Movin' pretty good that is, until I launched myself over the bars about a mile in. Meh. I recovered and pick my way back through the riders to sit on Auer's wheel for the rest of the lap. In retrospect, that crash was probably a good thing as it forced me to be more conservative that first lap.

There isn't much to report on the next few laps, except that the course was sort of drying out. The trails were turning from muddy-slick, to muddy-peanut butter. It was a tough day to race, that's for sure. As soon as I entered the woods on my 6th lap, I had a spectacular crash which left me bruised, bloodied and battered; lying on a boulder. I dont even know what happend, but it hurt pretty damned bad and I had to walk it off before retrieving my bike from the brush. I limped my way through what would be my last lap.

At the end of the day, We ended up 5th place after pulling the plug just short of the 11th hour. Given the circumstances, deciding to bail early was a pretty easy decision - it needed to be done. We were both already hurt and finishing this mud-fest in the dark just wasn't worth risking the rest of the season over.

We retired for the evening with some breakfast courtesy of the only place left open and serving food and a much needed hot shower, mattress and pillow at the Hilton.

Maybe we'll head back next year for redemption, maybe not. Time will tell.

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