The 2009 Leesburg Bakers Dozen is officially over and it was quite the learning experience for me. I decided to try out the "solo racing thing" this time around. Last year DKEG and I did it as a duo team and I had to modify my strategy this year. Double laps and an hour rest between pulls was replaced with 13 hours of turning the cranks this year.
I lined up in the first 1/3rd of the pack. I didn't want to get stuck in a long line like last year and hit it hard at the start. Making my way through the crowed field before the narrow single track was a primary concern. I geared a little steep, 2:1 like last year and it felt fine on the pre-ride. This helped me pick off numerous riders initially and I was burning through lap one at a stupid pace for a solo rider. I brought it back a little for the next couple laps, but, hindsight being what it is, I should have brought it back a little more. By lap 4 I knew there was no way I could push that gear all day and I decided two more teeth on the rear cog would work better. The new ratio was much better, however, now I had a new issue to deal with, dehydration. By the middle of lap 6 I knew something was wrong as my head started to swim and my stomach wasn't quite "right". I pull into the pit for lunch and found myself feeling worse by the second. Light-headed and nauseous the required nutrition was impossible to eat. Brie hooked me up with a cold damp towel for my neck and Shannon opened up her stock of E-Caps. Both these things helped, but, I was loosing time and still could not eat. I laid down for a bit and that calmed my stomach. Washing down a PB&J with as much water as I can stomach I head back out for lap 7. Feeling better I caught up to another solo rider and his teammate. Pat and Adam from the AFC team, who would later finish 1 & 2 in my category. Pat was leading me with Adam right on my wheel. The three of us rode most of the lap as a small train passing riders whenever possible. Pat had a great pace and I kept telling myself to stick with him, even though I wanted to pass. At the last large rock ledge Pat struck a pedal and I passed at the top. His pace kept me honest and I foolishly picked it up once in front. They made no attempt to chase and that should have been an indication to bring it back a notch.
Lap 8 I pushed things a little and by the middle I was feeling foul again. I brought it back and tried to drink as much water as possible, however, I'm already in the hole. As I pull into the pits Barb has arrived with the kids and I wish I could give them a better welcome. I'm feeling like crap and wonder how many laps I have left in me. I laid down and took a long break. A VERY long break. Goals for the race are now being modified and my 16+ laps are now looking like 10....if I'm lucky. 1/2 a BBQ sandwich in my belly I'm doing alright. Feeling somewhat human after this extended break I decided to try again and see how things shake out. I grind out 9 and 10 and continue to flirt with dehydration sickness. Not quite as bad as before, but, not where I'd like to be either. More E-Caps and water and back to the single track.
Two more laps got me to 12 and I was actually feeling better at this point. 2 more laps and I'd have a century for the day. Yeah...I can do that, I have that much left in me. The sun is setting and the night riding is about to begin. Lights mounted David and I roll out together. The setting sun shoots beams of light through the pines and I'm feeling renewed. The next two laps go without incident or bouts of pain. 12 down and back at our pit I continue to eat and drink to feed my hungry body. A few Outlaws are heading out and I gear up to join them. Baler, David and I roll through the dark pine section and we start to spread out before the farm road. I don't see my teammates the rest of the lap, but I catch glimpses of their lights as we meander through the dark woods. Jon is on his last lap, #14, and David is working on #12.
Two more down and I have my century with 14 laps. I hear Becky is still rocking the course and is working on #15. In a zone, I head out for #15 as well. The course is becoming softer as the air is heavy with moister. The roots are getting slick and on several occasions my tires resist commands to track straight and true. These minor annoyances aside, I am finally feeling good and having fun. My head and stomach have stopped revolting and I can enjoy the ride. I come back in from lap 15 with 5 minutes to spare. I have no idea where I am in the standings and don't know if another lap will do anything to help. Jojo asks "how are you feeling", "fine" I respond and she suggests one last lap. That was a great suggestion. I was having fun, feeling good and one last lap did make a difference. It moved me up 5 spots from 9th to 4th.
Becky kicked ass the whole day and grabbed third place with 15 laps riding rigid single against a field of geared riders. Liz did amazing as well with 4th place and 15 laps riding single in the same category. Baler and David both knocked out 14 in the single solo group.
Rob and his crew put on a top notch event that gets better each year. The staff and volunteers should all be commended for all their hard work. Actually everyone did a great job. From the casual teams to the more serious ones. The vibe was amazing and the racing was top notch!
Photos by Gary Ryan @ http://blog.toofattorace.com/