Ahh Bradbury time again, the one race on the calender I circle every year. Last year the team finished second in the 3 person men’s class and 4th overall. This year I was determined to get the 3 person victory, and with the help of the Ride Bully and Andy Schnellenger this year there was not going to be anything standing in our way:
So this year the course organizers (whom did an amazing job once again, thanks!) decided to run the course in the reverse direction. This meant that the fast downhills at the start and middle of the course now had to be climbed but all the technical portions of the course would be done going down hill. This actually made the course flow much better and made the two steep rock faces which often had to be run up completely rollable.
Last years write up for reference: 2011 Bradbury Report
As has become routine for this race I went up early to grab a good campsite. I wanted one of the big ones near transition and luckily competition for the main campground sites was not as competitive as years prior. At the site this year would be my 3 person team, Kevin and Pinney’s 2 person single speed team, Gould and Crossley’s 2 person expert team and joining us for the day on Saturday was a 4 person team of women made up of friends from my social riding group. By Friday afternoon our little tent city was all setup and we all had an opportunity to preride the dry and fast course. After some food and a warm fire we all turned in early in preparation of the hard day that was to follow.
The next morning as everyone was getting setup it rained for about 45 minutes, stopping just before the race started at 8am, d’oh! This made all the roots and bridges on course super slick. The rain did have one advantage however, the temperature never dropped much below 50 degrees and never got above 65 which was fantastic. It turned out to be cloudy much of the day as well which suited me just fine 🙂
I decided (as the team manager of course) that Andrew would start. I knew he would stay calm and not expend too much energy the first lap trying to pass everyone. The lap one traffic is tough as the solo’s go out first (most are just trying to survive the day) so its easy to waste a lot of energy trying to pass them on on this very narrow course. I would go second and then the bully would be our anchor. The hope was to reach 15 laps this year (only got to 14 last year) which meant each of us would have do 5 or about 35 miles total.
Not having done any warmup, my first lap was a mess. Thankfully this lap there was minimal traffic. It was not much of an issue until I was passed half way through the lap. The guy grabbed my wheel at about 1/3 into the lap. I picked up the pace to try and drop him but to no avail, he was able to match me every step of the way. At the fire road climb at the half way point he attacked and I couldn’t follow. As I was finally starting to feel better I decided to push the pace to try and close the gap. Unfortunately I made the mistake of riding a bridge to aggressively and the next thing I know the bike is disappearing out from under me, ouch. Rattled a bit my pace dropped some and I ended up giving away 2 and a half minutes to the Stone Hammers guy who had passed me earlier.
The Stone Hammers: This years race was quickly becoming an exact repeat of last year. Last year the team that beat us had two pretty fast dudes and one really fast monster. It appeared these guys were setup in a similar fashion. Their strong man was putting up times that were competitive with Crossley and Gould for the first few laps. Thankfully the other two team mates were not quite as strong as Shawn and Andrew.
Shawn, all amped as usual had an amazing first lap, rifling off our teams best time of the day with a 42 minute effort, taking three minutes back from the Stone Hammers and putting us back into first place. When Andrew got in from his second lap we would be up by another minute and a half. I needed to limit the time loss against the Stone Hammers strong man. My second lap was amazing, I felt nicely warmed up and had a really clean lap with no dabs or crashes, yielding only 30 seconds to the other team.
Shawn’s second lap was also very good pulling nearly 4 minutes out his Stone Hammers counterpart. Lap 3 for each of us was good as well. By this time in the day the course was starting to dry out in sections and traffic was becoming less an issue. I lost a minute and a half to the 2nd place team but once again both Andrew and Shawn took the time right back.
My fourth lap was a mess. I was starting to get tired and my lines were getting rather sloppy. The sun had come out and was very low in the sky at this point making it difficult to see as well. The poor effort allowed the strong rider on the Stone Hammers team to take back over 2 minutes from us and Shawn’s 4th lap time was even with his man. Our time advantage was starting to shrink to about 10 minutes, easily lost if one of use had a mechanical.
After Andy grabbed another minute on his fifth lap I decided to go full on for my fifth and final lap. Fueled with adrenaline I was flying. By this point in the day everyone is exhausted so most of the other riders were happy to hop out of my way and cheer me on as I passed. Providing an extra boost was the need to keep Gould and Crossley from lapping us (yes they were only 5 minutes away from doing so, man those guys are fast!) With about 1/3 of the lap left darkness had settled so I fired up my new Diablo from Exposure Lights and pressed on. The temperature also started to drop bringing with it some fog, so in a couple of the lower lying portions of the course you had to ride through a cloud, it was wicked cool.
My fifth lap was a good one, only conceding 4 seconds (woot!) despite the increasing slick conditions as condensation began to show up on the course. As I ran through the transition tent I told Shawn to take it easy as things were starting to deteriorate. Of course I should have known better, egged on by Crossley his only response was “ok I’ll go as fast as I can!” I always joke that Shawn has only two speeds, full and stopped and I’ve yet to see stopped. Despite my concerns Shawn rolled up at just past 7:30pm after just completing one of the fastest night laps in the race. I gave the big goof a hug while Andy handed him a beer, we had done it!
After the award ceremony it was back to “Podium Camp” to celebrate with many a beer!
Gould and Crossley won, well everything, Kevin and Pinney grabbed third place right at the end and the women single speeders took 1st in the 4 person women’s class.
Below are the lap times for the three of us. Like last year the Bully got 2 minutes slower every lap :p while Andrew and I did a nice job staying consistent. Have to give Schnellenger big props for a great first lap despite all the traffic and Shawn for an amazing night lap!
I had a huge amount of fun this year, big thanks to my team mates who did awesome, all my friends who made the campsite a blast this year (Smith, Schnellenger, Orlowski, Pinney, Gould, Crossley and the SS Raging Chicks team who kept the fire running all day) and to the gentlemen on the Stone Hammers team who kept the day very interesting to the end. I think maybe next year I’m going to have to try this event solo, the only format I have yet to do.