|Note the message on my number plate.|
But not this post. This race follows the path laid out the weekend before by the Jackson Brevet. It happened in perfect weather and with the best of friends. It was yet another great time on a bike.
The 12 Hours of Zombie Apocalypse is the brain child race of Chainbuster Racing's Kenny Griffin. Backed by his sponsor and friends at Nite Rider lighting systems he put on a night race from 9PM Saturday night until 9AM Sunday morning. Just shy of crazy. And to make it that much more fun he called it the Zombie Apocalypse and had a zombie contest and a zombie zone on the course so the undead could spook the riders. My girls loved it!
They were also upset that I didn't bring our tent so they could spend all night being crazy. We'll do that next year for sure. Kenny also had a food truck there from Smiley's serving great food for dinner and breakfast. Add to all that the fact that the moon was full and the closest it would be to the earth all year and you've got the potential for fun that can not be beat!
|Randy Hemphill still having fun at 2AM.|
Our tactics were simple; have fun and don't leave your team mate looking for you in transition. We do well if we eliminate the simple things that cost valuable seconds. Randy was all about being focused and having fun. I like him.
|The Start was AWESOME!|
I've started many mountain bike races. I've felt the butterflies of nervousness, the excited adrenaline, the focused determination and once I even puked. I don't get nervous anymore, just focused determination but this start was all together different. At this starting line I felt like a super hero! I could hear my family and my team mates yelling my name! Once we turned our lights on we became rock stars! We launched from the smoke at the starting horn to the cheers of the crowd. It was awesome! Looking at the pictures I can see why folks were so excited.
|The photos were taken by H&H Multimedia. Great job!|
I rode away from the start with a small group of guys but we were all chasing some 95 pound kid I've never seen before. He took off like a rocket but I wasn't about to chase him because he started looking back. Looking back is a tell. It tells me you're tired. But tired or not he hammered far enough away that when we finally made the single track I couldn't see him anymore. I moved past the two guys in front of me and ended up dropping them. So I was alone and chasing the kid. Right up until I crashed. On the first downhill section at the power lines I came into the turn back into the woods too hot and slid down. It would've been ok accept that my chain was off and twisted. By the time I got it back on I'd been passed by 5 people. And evidently a link was twisted badly enough that with each pedal stroke it would catch on the cog above. It created a skip in my pedal stroke that would've really angered a lesser man. All I could do was finish as fast as possible.
I came through the transition area second and handed off to Randy. The girls were over at the Zombie Zone which is where the zombies gathered until midnight to stagger toward the racers as they pass. They were having a blast. I ate and drank and filmed the transition of Randy to David.
I want to say a special thank you to Todd Fisher. He didn't come to race, he actually came to support Dustin Mealor's solo effort with all his tools and a bike stand and positive energy. They set up a tent right next to us and Todd handed Dustin bottles all night.
When I returned from my first lap I started telling the tale and Todd grabbed my bike when he heard about the chain. Before I knew it he had removed the bad link and put it back together. After that I didn't have another problem shifting or pedaling all night. Many thanks Todd!!
We raced past midnight and bounced between 2nd and 3rd. Then at one point we actually moved into 1st place. We thought our averages and our strategy would win the day... or night... as it were. I went to the timing table to inquire about our competition and here's what I learned. The team in 1st was a father, a son, an uncle and a friend. So they thought. The only thing they knew for sure was the father/son part. The son was their ringer. He's the kid I chased at the start. Probably weighs less than 100 pounds and is fast as lighting. They would put this kid out there for two laps at a time and then each of them would do one. So the kid would put them back into 1st every time he went out. His name was Jake Morman. They were very smart to work him the way they did.
I realized then that we had been violating one of our rules, have fun, by worrying over the opportunity to get 1st. I expressed my desire to stop talking strategy and start talking nonsense and pick on each other. The guys were all about it and so in the waning hours before daylight we settled into a campfire and friends sort of mood.
Finally the dawn. The morning always brings a sense of relief and anticipation. All the family members who slept in tents and campers started coming out to see how the race was going. And to get something for breakfast from the Smiley's truck. There was a heavy dew on everything that wasn't directly under a tent. The air was heavy with humidity but the temperature was nice and 60 degrees.
This video shows "the kid" waiting next to David. He's going to leave and do two laps before turning it over to a team mate for one final lap. At this point our only hope was if they had a mechanical. So we just rode hard and hoped for the worst... for them.
It all came down to the final lap I would be making. We already knew that I couldn't possibly make up the minutes we were down but there was always the possibility of a mechanical or crash on their part so I got jacked up for one more round of mash hysteria.
Before I went to transition I ate two mustard packs (for cramping) and a double caffeine gel. It would be daylight the whole time so I didn't need lights. Trent came flying in and off I went to see what the cycling gods had in store.
The course was much different in the daylight. You could see the lines you should take. You could negotiate the bridges better and avoid the poop mud. It was my best lap of the race. I beat their guy by 2 minutes but that didn't put a dent in their overall lead. That kid single handedly whipped our tails.
|A fine 2nd Place in the 12 Hours of Zombie Apocalypse!|
Now I give you the short and sweet tale of woe from Dustin Mealor who despite being as under trained as I've ever seen him in recent years signed up for the Solo Expert Category. Hmm. Whatever dude. Dustin lasted half the night. His tale begins now:
It's interesting to notice things in races. I can honestly say that I had no idea how bad I would perform this weekend due to just not being mentally ready to race all night. Had this race been a day-time affair I honestly can't say things would have turned out differently, but I was shocked at my inability to soldier on like the "me" of the past. I ate poop mud hard on the first lap. It was one of those slower crashes, which always seem to be the worse. I tried to go up and over a rock formation and caught the lip just right. Threw me up and over the bars and flat on my face, which had the blow lessened by my hand which I, in a newbie-like fashion, reached out to stop my fall. After that the rest of my lap was fine.
The second lap I ended up behind the dude that went to the hospital. Seriously, this dude passes me at the top of the climb and I think to myself "man I hope this guy is a fast downhill". Not that I'm a bomber on the descents, but I can hold my own (thanks to the teachings of Craig Tinsley). No sooner do I think this to myself than crashes in spectacular fashion and I end up ditching via a slide to not bulldog his face with my front tire. In a not-so-me fashion I ditch my bike and run over to him to make sure he's fine. I stayed with him for probably 2-3 minutes until he convinced me to get back on the bike and go. I found out later that he went to the hospital with a separated shoulder.
The rest of the race was just weird. It's weird in that I was on the bike and I was racing, but I made so many small mistakes everything just seemed to run together. I know better than to take breaks in these races. In the expert class every lap and every minute matters. Yet, I seemed to stop almost every lap to grab bottles that I had not laid out for myself and food that I just had piled up and not planned well. I really thank Todd Fisher for being there and supporting me, but this race just didn't happen for me. I never could quite get into a groove. After five laps I just got tired of being on the bike. I think at that point I just mentally said "forget this" and gave up. Really not my style, but if you're not feeling it you're not feeling it. Next year will be different...
So there you have it. Another great adventure with friends and family. The next few months will be primarily road racing so not as much fun. But we'll do our best and not take ourselves too seriously. It is just a hobby after all.
Can't wait to see you all out there!!