24 Hours of Big Bear: what can you say except that it's always fun mixed with a dose of suffering. We had the full shanty town effect going on with a half dozen EZ-ups and too many tents to count with 25+ people located in our immediate staging area. That doesn't count our Michaux friends next door and across the dirt track or the Fredrock locals on our other side. Lots of friendly faces.
The single/rigid category we were entered in was small but had stiff competition. It doesn't help your case when you roll a team of fixed gear riders but luckily we turned some solid lap times and stuck it out. Props to Baler for doing the lead out le Mans start that included the dreaded run around the campground. Not that he had a choice, being the freshman on the team we nominated him and he took it in stride. Dan "The Kid" Atkins (or is that Dan "the Man"?) turned out some fast laps but we expected that. Spearman dusted off the MTB and proved he doesn't need to ride the fixed mountain bike but once a year and can still get the job done.
Conditions were less than ideal: slimy and sometimes muddy. Not terrible but energy zapping in many places. The first lap felt like the course was a lot longer than I remembered from last year but it was just in my head. Luckily I was able to find my fixed gear mojo (or the ninja skills as Tomi likes to say) right away and dance my way through the tech sections. The looooong, rocky downhill was hairy as always; high speed, on the verge of the nose wheelie at times to find that fine line between fast and sketchy, technical slice and dice. I was able to close a sizeable gap that had opened on us and nudged us into 2nd in our category. After that though, I think we dropped back to third for pretty much the whole race. My usual routine is: First lap good, Second lap best, Third lap worst, Forth lap rally and put in a time similar to the first. Shaped up similar but a little different this year: First lap would be my best, third lap my worst as usual and I rallied for the 4th. Cheeseburger after lap 1 may not have been a good idea as I fought gastro issues the rest of the race and wasn't eating on my normal race schedule. Luckily I could put down the Honey Stinger gels and chews to keep some fuel in me.
Heading out for my last lap, wasn't sure I had the legs to pull a lap fast and it looked like second place had put too much time into us to catch them. It appeared our fate was sealed and I told Dan I was going to rock steady but not kill it since we appeared to be resigned to 3rd. I might be back in time for him to go out, but it would be tight. I steady gunned it for the first half of the lap, then grunted through every last inch of mud I was able on the second half. Took the beer hand-off from the WV Lounge at mile 12 and slammed it. I got cheered, the rider in front who passed on the malted beverage got jeered. He offered a pass, I declined at first since the finish was just ahead and I thought my lap time was not good enough to send The Kid back out. Reconsidered when I saw a nice opening and took it. A bit down the trail I see Spearman who has hiked into the woods and starts yelling at me, "YOU'VE GOT THREE MINUTES! THEY DIDN'T SEND A RIDER OUT! HIT IT! GO! GO! GO!". What? We've got a shot? I pour it on, punch it up and over the finish bridge, hammer through the final death spiral and try not to wash out on the only dry section of the course as I race to the transition table. It's 11:53, pulled my second fastest lap for the race and come in just under the wire. Dan heads out to seal the deal and turn a lap that is less than a minute slower than the fastest he's pulled all race. Exciting way to finish. Second in single/rigid, 30th overall out of 174.
Great riding and racing by other SSO team members as well: the ladies ran the only all single speed female team and David and Todd's Nitro Burning Juggernauts got 5th in the 5 man open category. Team mate Donna kept us fed while also playing staff photographer. The MBM crew got some good results and other Fredrocklocals put in good efforts as well. Congrats to Josh, our Endura rep, and his crew that took first in our category (side note: check our new duds). All in all a great weekend on the bike.