Let me preface this by saying that I agreed (I like to use the phrase "somehow got wrangled into") to do the 12 Hours of Temecula about 11 days before the event. I love riding my bike. I even love riding my bike for long periods of time, and I like to try to ride fast. Sometimes I like to attempt to put the two together.
My XC race season ended on 9/27. I took a week off and then basically did some regen, did a big ride, did a massive ride, and then did almost nothing. The week of my birthday I literally had about 2.5 hours of bike time. I hadn't been on a mountain bike since Noble. I hadn't ridden my Epic since CA State.
So, on top of all that, Justin got a call Friday around 6 as we were sitting down to dinner from a manager at work, who I would be racing Co-Ed Duo with the next morning. Justin and his group had been uprooted from their building at work on Wednesday or Thursday due to some structural issues. The plan had been that it'd be inaccessible for a few weeks, and then everyone would be back in there. Well, Friday something happened. So, then it was well by Monday morning everything needs to be cleared out. They talked about the race, and determined I'd go first in the race so I could try for Queen of the Mountain, and then it was time for dinner. About 30 minutes later it was no longer - it's okay by Monday; it was Everything needs to be out of here by tomorrow at noon. So, Justin headed back to work. Meanwhile, we had guests on their way, and my race bike hadn't been touched in over a month, and nothing was packed. I got my food, clothes, bottles, etc. together and tried to pack a few things for Justin and then hung out with Steph and Dan.
I tried to sleep. Around 11 Justin called and was about to head home for the night. Luckily we got a few hours of sleep, and were up and at'em the next morning before 6 to pack up and head to the venue.
We got a primo pit spot just past the timing booth. I wasn't sure how I'd like not being down by the pool, but it was aight.
It got WAY more crowded in the 2 hours before the race started.
My partner, Bruce, and I registered and got to work on the finishing touches of the bikes and pits and hanging out.
I realized I had to get dressed and do some kind of warm-up. I tried to get in some last minute training the week before the race (it's always a good idea to go from totally untrained and riding 2 hours a week to riding 3.5 hours in 4 days with as many hills as you can find, and doing threshold efforts), but I still wanted to make sure that the legs were ready to clear some lactic acid once the parade lap tapered off and it was go time for the hill climb.
I'd never even been near the front of an event like this before, much less tried to go for a prime, so I was kind of nervous. Jason mentioned that the King and Queen of the Mountain would get jerseys, so I was stoked cause I love the SoCal Endurance lime green jersey. I was pumped and ready to go. Had no idea who I was racing against, but I was going to go full bore up the climb!
Meanwhile, back in the pits…
And from the other angle…
Stephanie changed jerseys about 8 times (kidding!) and then as I was about to go hit up the restroom one last time I realized everyone was lining up for the start! I snuck up as close to the front as I could and hoped I didn't get taken out on the neutral roll-out! It was only hectic in a few spots, luckily.
Hitting the dirt.
I passed Natasha from Amgen and one of the Hungarian? girls just after hitting the dirt and just tried to stay out of trouble and pushing the pace. Bruce had been yelling, "Draft! Draft!" as I went by the pits, so I tried where I could. I was up pretty far to the front, but even as I came up off the first turn I could see guys already a football field or two up on the climb. Crazy! I passed a few guys, and were passed by a few, but didn't see any women. I felt like dying, but when I hit the top I asked the lone kid on a quad if I was the first woman. He said no. What! I was shocked. I then had moments of paranoia where I questioned if it was fastest lap and not climb? I didn't let off the pace once, just in case.
I stayed in the mix where I could, and pulled over for others where I couldn't. I came off ridgeline feeling good and ready to hit Ambulance. Once I hit the singletrack on the way up the fire road I felt my tire getting squishy. Then it kept rolling around the corners. Ugh. Not again.
We'd just seen Race Across the Sky on Thursday, so I had this flash of Lance standing there, leading Leadville, looking around trying to figure out what to do with his flat tire! I figured it worked for him, so I'd try it… left the bike rubber side down, pulled out my Big Air and filled the tire to where it felt pretty full. Meanwhile Natasha had ridden by, along with a lot of other riders! I re-tightened the valve and heard air hissing out. What? I saw a sidewall puncture. Had no idea if there was any liquid Stans left in the tire, but I gave it a few good spins, shook it a bit and said a quick prayer as I pocketed the Big Air and hopped back on the bike in chase. I caught back up to Natasha, who was also racing Co-Ed Duo, and she and I swapped positions for the last 1/4 or so of the lap.
We came through the start/finish literally together, but unfortunately since Bruce and I were tagging off down by our pit I got a little held up, but then continued on, and off Bruce went chasing down Natasha's partner.
She confirmed my thoughts that there were no women in front of us at all!
Justin had me put my feet up, and I hydrated and ate a snack. I had NO idea what to do. Racing solo it's easy. You ride your bike, you grab some stuff, you ride your bike, for hours, and hours. This duo thing? You get just cold enough to be stiff and ready to hang out for the rest of the day and then it's time to go again, and not just go slow and steady, but go really fast.
Am I doing it right?
I cruised around and wound up talking to Heidi about what she does when racing with Mario. We chatted about training, racing next year, etc. Then all of a sudden Justin was yelling my name. It had been about 45 mins since Bruce had gone out, and I was just about to head over and take a gel shot and line up to go. Well, Bruce's lap was a LOT faster than expected, and I had to shed the jacket and GO!
My lap 2 felt pretty good, and I was still cranking along. I tried to be more social and cheer on the solo's this lap, while still going as fast as I could manage. This lap was a few minutes slower than lap 1, but not by much. Still felt good, but I knew I couldn't keep cranking out 55 minute laps.
My off lap was a little easier. I'd had Accelerade on lap 2, so wasn't as hungry. Had a few snacks and then was ready to go about 12 minutes before Bruce came in for the hand-off. Went out for lap 3 and tried to keep a good pace, but also spin a little more than the last 2 laps. I was cleaning stuff pretty good still and felt okay. Natasha and her partner had opened up a big enough gap that I couldn't see her on the laps at all, but I tried to keep my "time checks" close. I wound up with a 57 I think. I believe it was at this point Justin relayed that Bruce was looking forward to me slowing down so he could rest more. What!! I was barely getting 50-52 minute breaks! Haha! I put my feet up, and had the situation somewhat dialed in. It isn't like solo where you're a zombie. You kind of are totally amped up when you come in, but it's important to sit down, hydrate, get some food in early and then head out for easy spinning.
Luckily for us, I think, the fire road out to Dam Climb is about a mile or so, undulating, but very little elevation gain/loss, so it's a great warm-up in and of itself.
All I really remember after that is Heidi and the BMX Mulisha trying to talk me into drinking Guinness in between laps, and then I got slower, then I got a lot slower. Then it got dark. I went out for lap 6 I think around 6:15 or so. My 6th was really slow and I was out of energy. I'd asked a lot of my untrained and unridden body and it was pretty much over it at that point. I was grannying stuff, walking stuff, and my mind would wander and I'd be sitting in Zone 1 cruising. I'd try to speed up and then just forget again. So, I just cruised it out.
Got back around 7:30. Bruce was still kitted up, but he was definitely not into doing a 6th lap. We had a few laps up on 3rd place, and were a solid 15 minutes behind 1st, which he couldn't make up in one lap, so we called it.
It was really cold once I finished up, but put on some layers and got to drinking a home brewed Kolsch from Luke and then we sat by the fire and snacked on pretzels until awards.
I got my Queen of the Mountain jersey (a non-SoCal Endurance men's large that won't fit Justin or I, so much for being excited about the jersey) and wound up nearly tied with Karen for fastest female lap of the day (I wasn't even thinking about that!). Stoked.
Bruce and I on the "podium" with Natasha and her partner
We hung out and were totally stoked that Steph won the Pro/Expert Women's series overall!! So awesome.
All in all, a great day on the bike and with friends.