Four years ago, the 12 hour Bradbury event was the very first bike race I’d ever done. Ever since then I’ve used this race as a measure of my fitness. The course is a twisty 8 mile course at Bradbury State park near Freeport ME. I’ve done this race as a 2 person, 3 person and 4 person team. I think the 3 person rotation is the best way to go so I strong armed Steve and Shawn into joining me at this years event 🙂
I got up there early Friday morning, the day before the race and grabbed a campsite along with some friends who were doing a 4 person co-ed. Shawn arrived later in the evening and with a nice warm fire roaring we camped for the night. Steve arrived the next morning at 7am and Shawn and I helped him get ready for the start. Do to other commitments he could only race until noon, so the plan was for Steve to ride 5 laps back to back at the start. It would then be up to Shawn and I to finish up as a quasi 2 person team.
The course starts with a long downhill section that ends with a short rooty climb. After a mile of singletrack there is a rock face 6 feet high at 40 degrees. Normally not a problem but the trail leading up to it makes carrying any speed impossible. The next few miles of singletrack are twisty and wet but eventually dump you out onto a very long section of double track that is all down hill. When I hit this section it was strait to top gear. After passing over a few water bars at the bottom its a sharp right into another section of rooty trail. This is when you arrive at the second rock face (12 feet high) marking the start of the only climb on the course. The last 3 miles are the highlight of the event. The trails are fast and flowy with no noticeable change in elevation.
A cold front passing through on Thursday dumped some rain on the trails, and after a pre-ride of the course on Friday the course was a bit slick. The Slant 6’s on the Trek were pretty worn at this point so I decided to chance running low pressure, 24PSI in the back and 20PSI up front. Shawn warned Steve about the conditions and he was able to grab some mud tires for the Cannondale.
After the solo riders and two person teams had a few minute head start Steve and the other 3 person teams were off. Traffic on the first lap is always tough so he went hard off the start and was one of the first onto the course. I decided to get suited up just in case while Shawn helped out Steve with his water bottles.
Shawn and I checked on Steve each time he came through transition. As expected other than a few small issues he was motoring along like the machine he is, rifling off consistent 47 minute laps. Unfortunately as he rolled in at the end of his 4th lap at about 11am he was forced to tag me in early. During the lap he fell victim to the slippery conditions and badly damaged his rear derailleur hanger on the Cannondale.
In the past I’ve always start the race so this year I was pretty amped up from waiting for so long and went out pretty hard my first lap. The other issue was the traffic, if there is someone to chase I just can’t resist. The decision to drop the tire pressure worked nice and I was cruising along fine despite the slippery conditions. At the end of the lap I caught none other than Greg Jancaitis. After a double take in disbelief he graciously let me pass. Looks like as long as he’s been riding for 4 hours before I get started I can hang with him :p
Shawn was waiting and ready to go when I rolled in. (Shawn was awesome in this regard, ready to go every time I rolled in from a lap) Once off course I grabbed some hydration and calories while Shawn posted the teams fastest lap, a blazing 44 minutes. My second lap went well except for a dropped chain which cost me 15-20 seconds. The course was drying out nicely and the last few miles of the course were really fun. After sending Shawn out for his second lap I was approached by one of the other 3 person teams who told me we had just stolen the lead from them… It was on!
Shawn rolled in from his second lap and right on his wheel was… yea you guessed it. We left transition at the same time but I hit the first downhill hard and was able to build a small gap. At the first rock face I slipped out and as I was walking up their team member cleaned it and was right on my wheel. Thankfully he dug a bit too deep closing the gap and when I burned my last match I was able to reopen the gap. For the first half of the lap I kept my head down and gave it everything I had. I kept thinking he was going to make the catch soon so I started to look over my shoulder. Taking my eyes off the trail in such tight singletrack was a bad idea and I ended up clipping a tree hard with my shoulder sending body and bike to the ground. D’aaaa idiot! Picked myself up as quickly as possible and rolled in with only a 60 second advantage.
The team we were up against had two riders a little slower than Shawn and I but one rider who was incredibly strong. Sadly it was his turn in the rotation and he passed Shawn at the end of his 3rd lap. I had burned the last of my matches on my last lap and quickly came to the realization that defending 2nd place would have to be the new goal. I had a horrible next lap, after three completed in 46 minutes each I had a bad cramp in my inner right thigh and finished lap four in 51 minutes. Shawn was starting to get tired too, the two man rotation with only 30-35 minutes to rest was taking its toll.
Thankfully Steve left the last of his Endurolites before departing for the day. I downed 3 and headed out for lap 5. I felt a little better but ironically the cramp struck again in the exact same location on the course. Had to stop for a few seconds to stretch it out and then gave it everything I had left and finished the lap in 50 minutes right at 6:20pm. This meant Shawn would have to do half his last lap in the dark. The lap cutoff for this event is 7pm. With less than 60 seconds left till the cutoff the first place team was able to start a 15th lap. Shawn came in 13 minutes later to my amazement finishing his 5th lap in the dark in only 52 minutes, clinching our 2nd place finish.
I am super proud of the results and the performances of my teammates. We finished 14 laps in 11 hours and 13 minutes with an average lap time of 48 minutes. There were a total of 26 three person men teams so a podium spot was never a sure thing. Overall we finished 4th. The 3-person team that beat us 3rd. There were a pair of two person teams that finished 15 laps in just over 11 hours, captained by non other than Alby King and Andy Freye. So yea I’m pretty excited with how things went.
Oh I also want to extend a congratulations to my good friends Adrian, Steve, Mike and Matt for their third place finish in the 4-person coed class.