Monday, September 15, 2008

12 Hours of Sundance race report

The day started early for this one - out of bed at 4:45ish to be ready for pick up at 5:20 am. Sam came by, and while we were loading gear Brandon and Eric drove up, and the team was on our way to Sundance for 12 hours of singletrack that is impossible to get tired of. Sundance's trails make for some of the best Mtn. bike race courses in the state - and the 12 hour race format put it at it's best. It only took a lap for riders to spread out and the rest of the day was fast, tacky single track with minimal traffic from other racers. It would be a day of fantastic mountain biking for the entire team, with all the elements of racing - good laps, hard laps, fun laps, not so fun laps, excited to get back out, not wanting to go back out, etc... - thrown in for good measure and adding to the experience of the first endurance event for each of us.

After arriving at Sundance and getting checked in we drove up to the staging area to get ready for the race. We park, get out, everybody's excited. 5 minutes later, bikes are off the racks, and we're all back in the vehicles huddling against the heater vents, significantly less excited. Not sure what the temp. was, but the 5 minutes it took to unrack the bikes was all it took to chill us to the bone. I brought up riding rotation, and immediately volunteered to ride anchor, aka 4th, aka last, aka roughly 9:45 am when the sun would be out and and hopefully have warmed the place up.

Sam had hooked the team up with the guys from Revolution who were gracious enough to let us spend the day in their tent. We located Carl and the tent and set up home base. Carl was the Revolution team mechanic for the day and aside from being a great wrench, was a really great guy and good company, which is nice during a 12 hour race.

Sam, being the fastest guy on the team by quite a bit and having to leave early to go to the BYU-UCLA drubbing, layered up and went out first. Eric, Brandon and I finished the rotation in that order.

Sam laid down his typical speedster lap, despite having to deal with the first lap traffic, won't even mention that he rode a single speed - sick. Eric did his first lap with no rear brake, doesn't sound bad until you ride the decent - Eric usually get's a kick out of finding new ways to exit his bike, so it was impressive riding on his part to come down the mountain clean with only a front brake and a rear end feathering the back tire to keep speed in check going into the gnarly corners and switchbacks.

Brandon put down the hammer in what would be the last of the cold laps. And I went out just as the sun was cresting over the trees, instant warmth.

The 12 hours flew by, and at the end of the day, Sam and I had put in 3 laps, and Eric and Brandon had logged 4 each for 14 total. We missed getting out for lap15 by about 25 seconds which was the funniest part of the day. Brandon was out on his last lap, and we knew he was going to be really close to the cutoff time. From the staging area, you can look up the hill and see the riders coming about 45 seconds before they emerge from the trees and cross the line, allowing the next rider to go. I've been warming up for a few minutes, anticipating going out for one last lap, and watching closely for Brandon as the announcer starts saying 3 minutes, two minutes, and then 1 minute until cutoff. That's when we see Brandon come around the corner up the hill. The top of the hill is close enough the riders can hear you up there, so Eric and I start hollaring "Banks - Go!" waving frantically. Brandon hears enough to know we're yelling at him, looks down the hill and sees us waving, and takes it to be our jubilation that we just completed our first endurance race together and we're waving in the team's triumphant finish. Naturally he pulls up, waves back, and basks in the moment by coasting across the road, down through the trees, and across the line, seconds after the last lap cut off. It was an epic finish.

All in all, it was the perfect end to our race, giving us all a good laugh to top off the day.

Hard to beat great riding with great friends at a great venue. We'll be back next year, no question.

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