I so easily forget how the 12 Hours of Lodi can bring so much pain along with so much fun. It has been 2 years since I made my way over to Fredericksburg, VA (near D.C.) to crank and roll through the Lodi Farm. Several days before the race, 3 days of torrential rain pulverized the area. I wasn’t sure it would be a go, but fortune would have it that the trails drained and dried quickly. This would be the 17th edition of the Lodi Race, man…that says something about this race. I always enjoy the scene and the vibe you get when you go to Lodi. Konrad and his crew have it dialed in and you always feel welcome. You can’t beat it and if you have never been or it has been a while, then you should put it down as a must do race next year. Thanks Konrad for another great edition.
This year I have been training well and getting stronger as the spring progresses. I have been dancing around the podium since February in various races. However, I haven’t been super focused (aggressive), pretty much out for a Sunday stroll attitude. I made it my mission to go to Lodi with energy and determination. I wasn’t going to accept anything less than feeling pulverized at the end. The race set off and I settled in with the duo and trio team leaders. As we made our way around the first lap of the tighty, twisty, pitchy, rooty, swoopy and loggy labyrinth of roller coaster riding exhilaration, I recalled all of the other times that I had raced here over the years. I remembered how much fun this is going to be and also that as the laps begin to add up that I would be in the hurt locker by the end. Accepting my fate, I settled into my pace by the end of the first lap, going through the pits and exchanging bottles to begin another lap.
I never checked to see where I was in the standings during the race, only making sure to verify my laps as I completed them. I have found that I do better in these long races by focusing on my pace and efforts to always be moving. I have really dialed in my pit stops over the years, making them very efficient time wise. I was trying out a new nutrition plan this year at Lodi. I used Hammer Nutrition’s Perpetuem (Orange/Vanilla) as my only source of calories. Premixed and ready, all I had to do was switch out bottles every lap. This makes my pit stops well under a minute and I’m off rolling. I must say that I was very impressed with the Perpetuem. I didn’t have any hunger pains or stomach distress for the entire 12 hours. The caloric ratio that I chose for myself was 200 calories per 20 Oz of water. I will use this as my nutrition plan from here out at races.
Remember all of that rain I mentioned earlier, well the course was amazingly in good shape except for about 4 or 5 spots that turned into a muck fest out there as the race progressed. By the end of the race those areas had become a laugh for me as I came to a stand still spinning and slipping through the bogs. I was covered from head to toe and my bike had a new layer of armor that now added at least 2 lbs to the bike. Somehow the drive train stayed together and kept me engaged. I did lube the chain every lap as was required. Funny looking down at the chain and seeing a canal built of mud and weeds that had formed around it.
This year I didn’t have a support team, so I was setting up and tearing down. I arrived at the race with about an hour to set up and be on the start line. I set up the base of operations hastily. I forgot to hammer in the canopy stakes in my madness to be ready for the start. As I was coming into the pits for the 4th or 5th time, I noticed that something was off. My canopy had been moved, so my mind was thinking who would come move my canopy. My mind didn’t have time for these trivial things, I was racing and trying to stay focused. Then I noticed that the wind had picked up, oh…that must be what happened. I got off the bike and reset my canopy and staked it down. Then I commenced with the normal duties at hand, lubing the chain via the canal and switching out bottles. That was my longest pit stop of the day due to the remodeling project that arose. All of the rest of my pits were less than a minute and most of them being less than 30 seconds.
As the inevitable darkness approached and the donning of the headlights began, I figured I was in the top 3. I knew I was putting down steady laps, having just completed my 9th lap. This year’s edition of Lodi was the hardest of the 6 times that I have done it. I would venture to say that the bogs left over from the heavy rains slowed lap times anywhere from 4-5 minutes off of normal expected times. Plus that mud just takes a toll on you after you have slogged through it 9 times. Off I go for my 10th lap, still feeling solid mentally. Physically I was tiring no doubt. Anyone that has done Lodi knows what I’m talking about. As much fun as Lodi can be, it will beat you down over time. Coming in off my 10th lap. I had plenty of time left to go out for number 11. I checked in at the scoring tables. I was in first by a lap. Relief set in all over my weary beat-down body. I asked how far back was 2nd place. He had embarked 10 minutes prior to me arriving for his 10th lap. I made the decision to go out for my 11th lap for security purposes even though there was no way he could catch me with the time left on the clock. Plus, I was using Lodi as prep for the 24 hr racing I have coming my way in a months time. The 11th lap was a hoot, I pretty much eased around the course trying not to cause injury to myself and arrive safely to the finish. Near the end, I had a bit of a lapse in judgement as ones does after 12 hours of pounding oneself. I ejected myself off the bike on top of a roller and went careening off down a hill in a full sprint of terror. How I didn’t pull a muscle or cramp up entirely or head butt a tree is a mystery to me. I remounted and finished up feeling great as I began to hear the chatter and see the lights at the finish.
In the end it was a jewel of a ride for me. 1st Place Overall Solo Male with 11 laps is a solid performance anytime, but especially this year with the added obstacles (muddy bogs and no support). I’m very pleased with my present conditioning and I’m once again reminded how the psyche is so powerful. When I’m focused and determined, I can deliver a solid performance. I will take this energy as summer approaches and use it as I tackle some great challenges out west. I leave at the end of May and head west to Amarillo, TX to Single Speed my way around the Palo Duro Canyon at the 24 Hours in the Canyon. From there it is south to Mexico for some riding with my buddy Ard with whom I will be racing the Breck Epic Stage Race in CO during August. I will make my way up to Gallup, NM from there and race Single Speed at the U.S. National Championships of 24 Hour Racing. The tour will continue from there to hike the Grand Canyon and then continue the cross-country tour back into CO. Maybe I do a race there, who knows. I will eventually get back to the east coast around the 1st of July. Lots of adventure to be had and I can’t wait. Thanks for reading and I hope that everyone is doing well.