Sunday, June 17, 2012

Big Bear 2x12

Feeling like I needed to recover from my bout with some type of tick bite infection and two weeks of ingesting antibiotics I chose to do the Big Bear 2x12 relay race over NUE Race #4, the Lumberjack 100, this past weekend. It was a good choice.

The main reason I decided to do Big Bear over the Lumberjack 100 is because I was certain my body was not ready to do the hard and sustained effort a 100 mile race would require. Additionally, I only needed to travel about an hour from home to Big Bear instead of doing a 10 plus hour drive to the Lumberjack. To make the choice even easier, Big Bear offered a $1200 first place prize to the winning singlespeed duo team. It was tough for me to decide against doing the Lumberjack 100, but I knew it was the best and wisest choice.

With my decision made, my next issue was trying to figure out with whom I should do the race. I remembered Nathan Annon asking a few weeks earlier if I was going to do Big Bear. At the time, I told him I was not because of the Lumberjack 100 being on the same weekend. I also remembered riding with Nate during the first 30 miles or so of the Mohican 100 and thinking he was riding very well. I also knew Nate was familiar with the trails of Big Bear because he is a local WV boy, so everything about asking him about racing together seemed to make sense. Luckily, when I asked Nate, he was still looking for a racing partner and he said yes to racing with me. Unfortunately, neither of us was creative enough to think of a good team name, so we settled on combining our main individual sponsors: Salsa/ProMtnOutfitters/NoTubes/TOP Gear. Our duo team was now born and we had a common objective set to win the race.

The Big Bear 2x12 is kind of run like a 24 hour team race, but instead of being based on racing for a set period of time, it is raced on a set number of laps. For open racers, each team member must do three 12 mile laps and sport teams do two 12 mile laps. Fast times on the course are around one hour to cover the technical 12 mile singletrack loop, so the race is completed in about 6 hours for the fastest open teams. The course is a completely awesome mix of singletrack trails and when the course is dry, like it was this past weekend, it is one of the finest race loops I know.

My body seemed to be coming around after being treated with antibiotic for two weeks straight, but I was a little nervous about putting it the racing test so soon after being treated for my infection. But, sometimes the best way for me to know if I am actually healthy again or not is to stress it out just a bit. Doing a few repeats of racing hard for one hour followed by an hour of rest seemed like the perfect way to test myself without doing too much of an extended effort. I took my last antibiotic pill at 9am on race day, so I also wasn't too sure how my body was going to react to racing while medicated. I figured it would be okay to do, though, since I didn't experience and bad side effects while riding and taking antibiotics the past couple of weeks.

Nate started the race for us. He is definitely a faster starter than I am and also more aggressive when it comes to passing.  He hammered out his first lap and immediately gave us the SS lead. My next lap added to our lead and gave us a nice margin of comfort over our competitors. I think we both knew the smartest thing to do with our comfortable time gap was to ride a smart race and not blow our lead by doing something stupid out on the trails. With this in mind, we slowed our times just a bit for the next two laps, but at the same time still continued to increase our time advantage on the other teams. We continued to have clean rides during our last two laps and by the end of our 6 total combined laps, we were able to score the singlespeed win.

It is so awesome when plans come together and everything seems to work perfectly like it did for us at the Big Bear race. I was also very happy that my body seemed to feel healthy again. I felt like I could put out power on my bike without feeling so fatigued from my efforts. Hopefully, now I can get my training back on track for the remainder of the NUE Series races and work towards achieving my goal of winning my fourth singlespeed championship.

Thanks to Mark Schooley for putting together a fantastic event and thanks to Nathan for being a fast and PFUN teammate.  Here is a link to the race results: Big Bear 2x12, oh yeah, baby!

Happy Trails...   Gerry

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