This weekend I raced Boggs 8-hour relay race, it’s been a long time since I have raced a team race. The last one I did was with my brother and a friend when I was 15. It is a whole different kind of race with all the stopping and starting than I’m used to. Nevertheless it is still racing, you have to make some adjustments in order to recover and go all out for over 8 hours. I assembled the NorCal A-team to compete against whoever may show up. Since you don’t really know who’s going to show up might as well have a strong team to compete. Earlier this year I called up Brian Astell, a Lost Coast/Marin racer, to lock him in to the event. Then later while training got the fastest man around twice my age and just as fast, Roger Bartels to complete our trio.
I showed up to the race early morning for our eight o’clock start to find the night before many of the campers woke in the night thinking their bikes were being stolen. The shaking and rumbling that stirred the camp sites was actually an earthquake. Glad I took the early morning drive over the earth shaking campout. After taking to Rog and Brian the day before we decided our order would go; me, Brian, Roger. I was glad that I got to go first because it gave me a chance to ride the course for one lap unobstructed. We began up the fireroad behind the neutral truck for a short distance, then it took off and the race was on. I took off lifting the pace some and had all the awesome singletrack to myself. The first was the one and only lap I had to myself. With close to seven hundred racers, the course was a traffic jam the rest of the day. Even with all the racers on course throughout the day the trails stayed great and people were pretty good about letting faster racers go by. My second lap was by far the craziest passing experience I could ever imagine. On this lap there was only a mere ten seconds I was alone, the rest was off the side of the trail going by at least two hundred people.
The way the course was set up was great; fireroad-singletrack-fireroad. This made it important to get by as many racers as possible on the first section to hopefully avoid some passing in the singletrack. This also made for a painful start of the lap going from rest to full out sprint. Early in the day, on our teams’ third lap, Roger had a flat costing him a little bit of time. He quickly fixed it and kept us in the lead. From there on out we all rode a clean consistent race. Since I started out the race in the lead I was able to put down the fastest time of the day coming in 36.5 minutes. As the day went on or times were degrading just a little, around 30 seconds a lap. I felt like this was a good time frame to keep our lap times.
As 4 o’clock approached it became clear that if there were no major mechanicals I would be heading out for a fifth lap bringing our total to 13 laps. As Roger rolled in from his fourth and final lap he left me plenty of time to make the 4:45 cut off. But, I didn’t want to just make the cut off I wanted to keep my time as low as I could and not soar above 40 minutes. I knew ¾’s of the way through the lap I was on target to make it, but then my legs were getting
tight on the steepest section of the last fireroad. I was a little worried for a couple minutes I wasn’t going to keep the time. My legs weren’t cramping but beginning to pulsate and looked tense when I looked down. I’d been big ringing the entire course all day, but had to drop down to my small ring as I knew my legs would surely cramp if I tried to push any harder. Once cresting the steepness I felt relieved knowing I’d make it back in under 40 with one last short hill and descent. Then I coasted into the finish happy with our teams ride.
Marin Bikes was one of the sponsors of the event so the team and all the other guys from Marin had a nice spot to rest out of the sun between laps. We also had our star mechanic Gravy there for the day providing neutral support. Luckily he didn’t have to attend to me and my bike other than some chain lube. Not mentioned before, Brian also had a little mechanical out on his first lap. Crashing into a tree breaking his lock-out lever, Gravy didn’t hesitate and rigged up something bomber to hold for the day.
I got some serious chamois time in for the weekend. The following day I headed down to Novato to help film the race action at the NorCal high school state championships. Two guys are putting together a documentary on the league and have been following a few of the racers throughout the season. I was strapped up with a gopro and raced along with them all day starting with the varsity girls in the morning and ending late afternoon with the varsity boys. It was amazing for me to see how much the league has grown since my time racing in high school. Watch out some serious talent is coming up!