Sunday, June 13, 2010

Big Bear 24 Hour National Championships (NOT)!

As many of you know, Granny Gear Productions has hosted a 24 hour endurance mtb race at Big Bear, WV for many years. I was excited to learn last year that this race was going to be the USAC 24 Hour National Championship Race for 2010. I think many east coast riders were also excited to finally have a shot at this race without doing too much traveling. However, early this spring a sudden announcement came out, which stated the 24 Hours Nationals were being cancel at Big Bear and were instead being held at Moab, UT once again.

If you have never had a chance to ride the trails at Big Bear Camp Ground, you are missing a treat. There is a great network of fun, technical single track trails throughout the property. The main man behind this network of trails is Mark Schooley. After 24 Hour Nats were canceled, Mark stepped up big time and decided to promote a relay mtb race on the same date as the canceled 24 hour race. After a couple format changes, Mark decided to call the race the Big Bear 2x12. Basically, the race was designed for teams comprised of two riders to do a multiple lap relay race. The technical race loop was 12 miles long and had expert duo teams completing 3 laps per rider (6 total for the team) and sport teams doing 2 laps per rider. The one catch to this race for expert teams was that only first place received money for the win. Second and third placed would only receive a trophy. And, to ensure that the race would attract a good amount of fast riders, Mark offer $1000 to the winning team of each expert category (duo men, duo women, duo coed and duo single speed).

Wanting to have the best chance possible at winning this race I had to consider my single speed teammate choice very carefully. After much consideration, I decided to ask Weston Schempf if he would be interested in doing the race with me. Wes was totally psyched about doing the race and I was also excited to have one of the fastest single speed racers around on my team. Next up was naming our team for the event. But, with Weston’s name ending in PF and mine starting with PF, we decided to combine the two names and call ourselves the Schempflug Effect. Which, if you google it, actually has something to do with photography.

So, on race day Wes and I came up with our game plan for how we were going to do our laps. Wes started first and what a start he had. He actually took the hole shot going into the section of single track like the experienced cyclocross racer he is and then finished the lap a few seconds off the time of the fastest geared guy. I was up next for my first lap of three, but instead of doing only one lap I decided to do two laps. Not only did this give Wes a chance to rest up for his next two laps, but it also let me do a longer sustained effort, which is better for me than shorter efforts. Our game plan seemed to be working pretty well and by the time Wes went out for the final lap of our race we had a 7 minute lead over second place.

The first two laps of the race were pretty fast and dry for us except for a few slick spot in some wet areas. But, by the time most expert classes were beginning their third laps, the wind blew in a rain storm. It didn’t take long for the fast course to become a really slick one, especially with all the roots and rocks on the trails. Wes had a Stan’s Crow Tire on his rear wheel, which I tried to get him to change prior to the start of the race because of the technical nature of the course. I told him that a more substantial tire would hold up a lot better on this course, but Wes stood by his tire selection. On my last and super muddy lap, I couldn’t stop wondering how Wes was going to ride this slick stuff with basically a bald tire on his bike. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I returned to the relay tent to learn that Wes had switched his rear wheel out for my Salsa Semi 29er Disc Wheel mounted with a knobbier tire for his final lap. Ironically, however, Wes nailed a rock on the longest and most technical descent of the course on his last lap and got a flat tire anyhow. He then had some trouble with his tire change after breaking his one and only tire lever. Fortunately, though, he did get things back in order before being caught by the second place team and was able to take the win.

I can’t say enough good things about this race. The payout was incredible (if you won that is), the trophies were awesome beer steins and for a first year event it organized perfectly. If this race becomes an annual event, I highly recommend finding the fastest guy you know to team up with you for some good racing times next year. In the end, I am actually happy that 24 hour Nats were replaced by this event. Not only was this event a lot less painful, but it was a better way to prepare for the Lumberjack 100 next weekend. Happy Trails, Gerry

1 comment:

  1. The Pisgah Badass is coming 9-11-10. It's an invitational. However, anyone that thinks they're bad ass enough is welcome to try it. Judging by your win at this cool sounding BBL race. You're invited. Tell your fast friend.