Thursday, April 18, 2013

Leesburg Bakers Dozen: Chainless Days, Flat tires and so ... much ... cow poo ... (Part I)

When I was trying to plan out the races I would do this year, one that particularly caught my eye was the Leesburg Bakers Dozen. It's a pretty unique event on a farm in Northern Virginia and it would be the longest race I'd do in all year if I did sign up. That in itself would be a first for me -- I've never done an event this long so early in the season. So I decided to give it a shot. And after a month of pretty steady training in March, I was feeling pretty good about how my preparation was coming along. But then April hit and it all went to hell when I banged up my hand on the first day of my vacation and spent a lot less time on the bike in the days leading up to the race.

But if the injury weakened my aspirations for a good result at LBD, it did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. To be honest, I was just really looking forward to getting out and having nothing to do for a full day other than pedal my bike. Seems like a pretty simple thing but I really haven't had much chance to do many long rides so far this year. I was kind of psyched that the bike was all I'd have to think about for a full day. I didn't even mind when the Perpetuem I ordered specifically for the race didn't arrive in time ...

Of course, this was at my front door when I got home on Sunday ...

At any rate, on Friday afternoon, I loaded up the car and headed out. Earlier this year, Joanna and our friend John both planned to make the trip with me, but over the last few weeks both had to back out for different reasons. That was okay -- I pretty much never ask anyone to come to my races because I more or less only do endurance length events, which means they'd have a long, boring day sitting around while I play on my bike in the woods for hours and hours. I appreciate their willingness to be there and support me, but I totally get that if they aren't actually into this sport, it's tough to sit through an entire race only to occasionally hand me food or water bottles (something I've proven over and over again that I can handle on my own.)

The forecast for the weekend was sunny and warm, but Friday when I arrived in Leesburg, the skies were cloudy and there was a very strong wind blowing through the pasture where racers were setting up their pit areas. I chose an area closest to the finish line on the inbound section of the course, next to a team camp that was being shared by a pair of duo teams. I had hoped to arrive in time to get a lap in on the course before heading to my hotel, but with all the wind blowing, it took me quite a while to secure my pit so it wouldn't blow away overnight if the wind continued. By the time I had everything secure it was already after 7:00 and I didn't want to use my lights for a pre-ride so I just headed to my hotel a few miles away. The one thing I did notice about the entire set-up area was the cow poo. It was ... everywhere ... anywhere there wasn't trail, there was cow poo. That's not even close to an exaggeration.

It doesn't look it, but the grass here is literally covered in cow pies ...

I checked into the hotel and then headed out to find dinner (settled on Chik-fil-A, which is apparently where the entire state of Virginia goes for dinner on Friday night) and buy some water to fill my bottles. In the hotel room, I gave my bike a quick once over -- I hadn't given too much thought to the gear I'd bring for the weekend. I've been running a 32:18 on the Misfit all winter, so I knew I wouldn't go any lighter than that, and not knowing the course at all, I decided not to push a bigger gear so I just left the bike as-is after cleaning it up the night before. I checked the tires (very slight signs of wear, but nothing to suggest they'd need to be swapped out), and tried to determine the source of a slight creaking sound I was getting from my BB. Turns out it probably just needs a good cleaning, but I wasn't about to deal with that the night before a race. So I reconciled myself to a squeaky day, put together my tools and a tube in my saddle bag and declared myself "ready to go". Then I pulled my kit out of my backpack and tried to relax until I could fall asleep.

Full Metal Packet ...
At some point I dozed off during an episode of "Bar Rescue" and next thing I know, it's 5:30 in the morning and time to get moving. I ate an awful breakfast of cardboard toast and burnt not-really-eggs and headed over to the venue to rebuild my pit area and loosen my legs up a bit before the race. The only section I would end up pre-riding was the loop that brought us out through the pine trees and back through the pit areas before heading out into the rest of the course. But that small section was enough to convince me that this was going to be a fun course. It was just so fast and flowy that you couldn't help but rail through everything. I did take note of a few rocky sections and the one foot  and a half drop that I'd heard about from a few folks who'd done the race before. Guessing that sections like those would make for a long and painful day, I headed back to my pit area and wrapped my hand extra tight in an ace bandage and ate a Chocolate Brownie Clif Bar before the start.

And shortly after that, they started calling for racers to report to the start area.

Part II
Part III

1 comment:

  1. Wish I could have been there to see you and the poo... And for the record, I am into your sport, just not quite at the same level you are :-)