We awoke to sun and.........................Frost. Yep 28 degrees and frost. Florida is the sunshine state but it never promised to be the warm, sunshine state.
I got ready and tooled around on my bike to see who all rolled in overnight. I saw my buddy Marcel Aguirre from Tampa and a few others that I have met throughout the South from racing.
There were quite a few people there.
These socks make me feel special.
My Vassago was ready to race with or without me.
Soon it was time to get it on. We lined up without our bikes for the LeMans start. The runn (I know there's an extra "n", running should be a four letter word) was about 1/4 mile followed by another 1/4 mile sprint and then singletrack. The first lap was a huge traffic jam. I got my bike and passed as many as I could before the singletrack and then just cruised in a really long line of people. We'd go for a bit until somebody messed up ahead and then the deck would be reshuffled and on again we'd go. The first time through the Vortex was a real treat. I got knocked off my bike twice, banging my shin on my pedals once (that felt good) and I just tried to relax and get through it. It was a long race and there was time to just chill out.
Bikes waiting for riders.
650 miles from home, first race of the year, I played the caution card.
The traffic kept me from riding a lot of the techy stuff in the Vortex on the first lap but by the third, I had ridden it all and noted the places where I'd really need to watch it later. It was about then that I realized that the flat, fast stuff had a gritty under belly too. Since it was all flat, it was all pedaling with no place really to rest. By the end of the third lap, I wasn't feeling to great. Since I had already exceeded my longest ride so far this year by about 300%, I figured that I probably shouldn't be feeling so hot and I stopped in my pit to rest and chat with Marcel as he strolled through. After stretching, some food and a nap (hahaha), I headed out for some more. My 4th and 5th laps saw my average speed drop from 13 mph on the first couple of laps to under 10 mph on my 5th. I crashed once when I got sloppy and hooked a tree and decided to call it a day. I had done enough.
It was a fun but tough race. The Ocala Mountain Bike Club has done an amazing job of making Santos a great place to ride.
Of the rest of the Tennessee gang, Bob retired after 4 laps with a cracked fork. Michael finished the 6 hour race and then helped Anet who gutted out 12 laps to take second in women's solo! Ben finished 3rd in the 12 hour solo sport in his first endurance race. Very nice.
Sunday, I was up early and headed back home where Tennessee welcomed me with open arms
Many thanks to Bob and Anet for their hospitality and the use of the USS Lamberson for the weekend, to Michael, Laura, Ben, Erin, Wes, Andy, Marcel and everyone else for the encouragement and comeraderie.
Thanks also to Vassago Cycles and their continued support along with Ergon, WTB, White Bros, Crank Bros, Carbo-Rocket, and Under Armour.
Special thanks to George at Bike 29. The wheels worked great! Thanks G.
photocredits: Wes Lamberson and Marcel Aguirre.