Actually, its the 12 hours of Seven Oaks race report for me this year. This race got bumped down a bit on my must do list after doing the 4 man 24 hour version the previous two years. The format seems to be losing steam in regards to what type of racing people want to do and attendance has been on a downward slide even in the short time I've been involved. This year was no different even with various changes trying to drum up more racers including moving the date, start time, and more promotion. I decided to race the 2 man 12 hour version of the race thinking it would fit well with my training and fitness. Originally, I'd planned to race with fellow team mate Jason A, but due to some scheduling conflicts, he wasn't going to be able to race. As luck would have it, another team member in the form of Kent C was looking to race and filled the spot perfectly as we'd both be riding rigid singlespeeds.
Race ready Selma under 19lbs
Ready for battle with a backup:
Rassmussen race HQ ready to rock!
Kent (being that he runs on occasion) was selected to take the opening lap due to the LeMans style start. I think we bypassed the usual gravel road climb this year and instead went the XC route of heading out through the grass field before looping back to the singletrack.
Run like your life depends on it!
Kent and I came in to the race pretty confident that we'd do well, but its always a crapshoot with variables of weather, unknown entrants, and mechanical issues that can spring up. That being said, our plan was to go hard and develop a lead over the first 4 laps since we were trading off each lap. While the two man format proved to be a bit painful towards the end, I actually liked it towards the start of the race. I had time to rest for a few minutes, get my new bottle ready, and I kept a bit of a running tab on my status updates as a way of looking back to see how things went. I can't remember the exact gear I ran for this race, but I'm thinking it was my 34x21 figuring that I'd need as many teeth as I could get by the last couple of laps.
Kent put in a fast 1st lap and had a small gap for us to work with as I hit it hard. As it ended up, we were the only 2 man 12 hour team so while we still wanted to give it a hard effort, it afforded me the opportunity to try out some different race tactics. I've always hit Boone all out every lap during my previous races. It never fails to hit me back equally as hard and by the end of each lap, its a mercy killing to be headed back down and ready to trade off. Just a couple weeks back, the XC race had my fastest lap at 42:53 with the same bike and a shorter course. My first lap for this race returned a 40:59 which is by far the fastest I've ever turned here whether XC or 24 hour racing. The difference was my approach to the course. I basically let it come to me and increased my intensity through the course instead of giving everything I had at the start and trying to survive at the end. I road the opening climb at a steady pace and then held myself in check through most of the lower loop. Once I hit the upper loop, I found I had plenty of strength left and could use that power to propel myself into the hills and clear them with minimal effort. Comparatively speaking, before, I'd be gassed by that point and have to pedal up the hills as I didn't have the strength to build momentum before hitting them. As I cleared lap 1, I felt fantastic.
Kent and I had a secured position so it was all for fun at this point. I decided to run a few more full out race laps just to test my theory that it was indeed faster for me to ride this way. I was rewarded with more fast laps and also a number of completely clean laps where I didn't have to get off the bike or even put a foot down on course. For me, that made me just as happy as the fast lap times. Boone is a technically challenging course and it gets tougher each year as mother nature wreaks havoc on the course. It had been at least a year since I'd been able to turn a completely clean lap.
After 3 laps, Kent talked me into backing it down since he'd been riding for fun at that point. I dialed the wick way back and found out something pretty quickly. At the slower speeds, I was having a harder time getting around the course. It was easier for me to ride at the faster speed with all the climbing. At a slow speed, each grind up a hill was taking more out of my legs than speeding over it. So, for my last 2 laps, I turned the wick back up for some more fun. On lap 5 I took off with my friend Andy who was out having some fun and decided to test his legs out. We were having fun pushing each other and it was nice to have someone push me during a lap. At this point I was definitely feeling the climbs and the general roughness of the course.
After lap 5, I knew I was going to call it with 6 laps. We had tons of time left on the clock, but with nobody else in our class and having lapped the field, I didn't really see a reason to put more strain on my body and race into the night. I still had my A race of the season coming up in 2 weeks so this was meant to be more of a solid shakedown ride versus a true beat down. In a stroke of mad genius, I had Andy call over to the nearest town and see if Godfather's Pizza would deliver us a pie. Sure enough, while I was out on my last lap, they came through and I was sweetly rewarded at the end.
Mmm, spoils of victory!
I thought Kent only went out for 1 more lap than me, but the final count shows he did 8 laps. Crazy! Its awesome to have a race partner that is equal or better than you though and he certainly was every bit of that. I feel pretty lucky I've got a number of team mates that I ride and race with that are such strong riders. On any given day there's a large contingent that have the ability to podium in their categories. I definitely had a great time racing this year in the 12 hour format. The race ended at 10pm so I was even able to pack up and head back home to sleep in my own soft bed for the night. Next up- Dakota 5-0 (my A race for the year!)