12 Hours of Waiting

If you read any of the other Michigan mountain bikers’ blogs, or any of the Michigan mountain bike forums, you already know that the 12 Hours of Addison Oaks (5/13/06) was a huge mudfest disaster.

Most bloggers are solo riders who talked about how hard it was to keep getting back on the bike and going out for more laps. They struggled, they worked hard. I’m incredibly impressed with all of the solo riders for the tenacity that kept them going all day.

For me, though, the race was much less exciting. For me, it was 12 Hours of Waiting. A good majority of my 12 Hour Racing looked something like this:

The ez-up condo

Last year, 12 Hours of Addison was a fast paced endevor where I hardly had time to catch my breath while John was out riding his laps. This year, there was plenty of time for breath catching as there were 4 people on my team and a trail full of mud.

Since we’re all impatient and excitable bikers, we decided that we’d each do only 1 lap at a time, at least in the beginning, so that none of us had to sit and wait for hours and hours between rides. This was a nice thought.

I decided to take the first lap. Monica and I set out for our adventure together, optimistic and smiling.

We have no idea what's about to happen

It took a good 50 minutes for Monica and I to finish our first lap. This is ~20 minutes longer than laps were taking me last year – the mud was already that bad.

Back at the tent ranch, the other “Pimps & Ho’s” had decided that since there were only 2 teams in our class, that there was really no need to kill ourselves – worst case scenario, we win second place. Not too shabby. So, Jess had decided that she wanted to do her minimum 2 laps and be done with it. It was cold, rainy, muddy and downright miserable. She really did not want to have to put bike clothes back on later in the day. Can’t say as I blame her, really.

This started a chain reaction in our group, tho – Nick and then John had decided that this was the wise thing to do — get your laps in and drink beer.

So, with Jess out on the course, the trail just gets worse. Laps are starting to take an hour, plus. Not to mention the time in between laps to hose off the bikes – there was just no way to do two laps on a row without washing the mud from the drivetrain. Poor John spent his day, watching broken bikes, broken chains, and broken derailures come by our tent – well before he ever put his wheels on the trail. The race started at 10am, and it was damn near 4pm before John even put on his bike clothes.

For me though – I sat in the tent ranch, knowing what the trail was like, and knowing that its just getting worse, and knowing that I had to go out there one more time. I sat, in limbo for nearly 8 hours.

Finally, John finished his second lap and it was time for me to wrap the race up. We’d realized early on that the other team in our class were serious SSE racers who just weren’t going to give up. We were happy with second place.

My second lap took me somewhere near an hour and 10 minutes to complete. There was alot of walking in the deep and wet mud. There were spots where I had to pedal on downhill stretches just to keep the bike moving. And there were times when I had to dig mud out from between the rear wheel and the frame just so that my rear wheel would move.

The mud was so bad that there were spots on the trail that I didn’t even recognize. I was nearly extatic when I saw that big rock on the trail – this meant I was REALLY close to the end. I even rode the log at the very end because it was a better option than going through the muddy bypass.

By 7:30, I was done. I changed into warm, dry clothes and had a hot cup of coffee. After that, we sat in the tent and waited for the crazy solo riders to stop riding so that we could get our free pizza and awards. All I wanted was a hot shower and a cozy couch to lounge on.

Thank GOD I'm done

I’ve never been so whiped out from 11 miles of riding in my life. But the 12 Hours of Addison still wasn’t over, even when the awards were handed out. No. It carried into the next day when we had to tear our bikes apart to clean them.

I’ll say this – at least it wasn’t Stony. The mud at Stony is like a living being that does not want to die. Its nearly impossible to completely clean your bike after a muddy ride at Stony Creek. Addison mud is very forgiving and the bikes cleaned up well. I think I’ll need a new chain though.

All in all, it was fun to hang with peeps all day that I normally don’t get to hang with. We earned points toward the Michigan Cup Endurance Series and we didn’t have to work too hard to get a second place prize. Next stop, 24 hours of Boyne – I sure hope we have better weather in 2 weeks!

More pics here and here

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