Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pick Up Your Balls

"And light up your cannons for a 21 gun salute. For those about to rock we salute you".

In the same manner, the 9th Annual 12 Hours Of the Hill of Truth began with the usual artillery blast that those who have done the race before have become accustomed to (though you never get used to that #$^#$ thing going off at 3 am. Can I get a witness).

I had the pleasure of riding this race on a team unlike my usual M.O. of doing these things solo. I hadn't raced on a team in a year and I forgot how much fun it can be. I also forgot how damn nerve racking it can be too. My team (NTMBA Factory Team that became Larry Roberts after registration) consisted of me, Bob Lamberson, Larry Roberts, and Wes Lamberson. In years passed, we were always a force to be reckoned with in the Vet class, winning 2 in a row and finishing 3rd on two other occasions. This year we signed up in the more competitive and growing singlespeed class. Our competition included a couple of fast local teams and a team of our friends - Grannys Rotten Teeth.
Beautiful weather greeted the 244 racers that lined up for the mass start (just say no to Le Mans starts- another reason to hate the French) and the cannon went off at 11:00 officially starting the race. Bob was our first guy out followed by me, Larry and then Wes. After the start, I went off to warm up. I figured Bob would be back in about 50 minutes and my plan was to ride every lap WFO so I needed to warm up really good. Bob came in in 51:00 (hey, I have raced with the guy for 5 years, I know my teamates) and off I went. GRT got a guy( good friend Brad Reed) in about a minute earlier and their #2 (Greg Carr) out so I had a rabbit to catch. Catch him is what I did. I caught Greg about 1/3 of the way through the lap and really tried to put as much time into him and GRT as possible. At the end of my first lap. we were up on them by about 2 minutes which put us loosely in 3rd. Two minutes isn't very much time, we needed more.

Fate stepped in however on Larry's first lap and he had bunches of trouble with his cleat and we lost a bunch of time. Wes had a solid 4th team lap but still at the end of the first rotation, we were in 4th and about 3 or 4 minutes back from 3rd. Bob and Brad duked it out on lap 6 and I set out again after Greg on lap 7. Near the end of lap 7, we were back in 3rd by a minute or so. Additionally, the 2nd place team had a bad lap due to a broken chain so 2nd through 4th were separated by only a couple of minutes. It was getting exciting.
Unfortunately, Larry's and our troubles were not over and at the end of the second rotation (lap 8) we were back in 4th by about 9 minutes. Mechanical failures are a part of endurance racing and we have benefited from them and been hurt by them over the years. It's racing. We learned long ago however to never, never, never ever give up as even long races can come down to just seconds at the end. Larry was awesome. He didn't let his problems get to him. He rode and ran as fast as he could to save as much time as possible. We were down but not out.
The rest of the race, we talked trash to our buddies and put as much pressure on them as we could. Both teams were turning in solid lap times into the dark and neither one of us were making any mistakes.
At 10:45, I was sitting in the transition area with Dr Skip (from Dr Skip's Medicine Show fame) and a bunch of friends from both teams. Greg had been out for about 10 minutes and I knew I wouldn't be able to run him down unless he had a slow lap. I took a couple of shots from the quart jar of "mountain nectar" that was going around and it warmed me up. Bob came in and I went out in pursuit of Greg. I rode my 4th lap (teams 14th) as hard as I could. It was nice to pass people again (in solo racing you learn to get passed ALOT! I hate getting passed). I was blowing by people that were really tired from the day of racing. I felt great (must have been the moonshine). When I got around to the hill of truth and didn't see any lights, I knew my last chance to get Greg was lost. I was happy. Those guys really rode their asses off to beat us and it made for one of the most fun and exciting races I have done in awhile.

We ended up 4th with 14 laps.

Grannys Rotten Teeth: (L to R) Brad Reed, Greg Carr, Anthony Duncan, Alan Sparks

Many thanks to John Baker and everyone that put on this race for giving us such a fun event and great venue; Thanks to my teamates Bob, Larry and Wes, that was fun; thanks to GRT for the competition; thanks also to Paul for the space in the camper; thanks to Bob for the beer lap treat.

Last but not least, thanks to Vassago and my other sponsors for your support.

You guys rock!

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