All best intentions were to keep my blog current, but I wasn't really able to do that this year. So instead, I'm going to give a recap of my riding higlights from this past year. Instead of racing so much, I did a lot more of groups riding and events.
Also I was turning 50 in the summer, so my goal was to get out to as many different places to ride as I could this year.
January - March
What an easy winter we had in 2012. As I look back at my riding log, I see I put in a number of four hour road rides in January. I was on my single speed quite a bit in February. And I finally put together my big road ride I had been trying to figure out for several months. I rode back country roads up to Slippery Rock University, for a round trip mileage of 76 miles. All this in March. I definitely had a good base going into the spring.
A lot of good riding with a couple of highlights. Mark and I drove up to Raystown to meet some guys. Rode over four hours and 25 miles. As always, Raystown is a blast and actually worth the drive. The trails were in great condition, and the group rode at a great pace. The miles just flew by. Those are the kind of trails where you just have a big smile on your face.
Also toward the end of April, I put in a 21 mile ride at Bavington. I love Bavington, you can get the feel of an epic ride just 45 minutes from the house. My goal was to do all of the trails that day, but I didn't quite get them all. This is a yearly thing I've been doing, so I knew I'd have to try again later in the year.
I hadn't really planned to race much in 2012, but then Jason, a guy that I would see at a lot of the local races, gave me a call. His buddy needed a last minute partner for the 9 Hours of Cranky Monkey in Maryland. I let them know that I'm a mid pack racer, and if that was okay, I was in. I looked up Lous's results from the previous year, and saw that he and his partner had won first place. Yikes.
The drive to Maryland was easy, and the facilities were awesome. Brand new bathrooms, great parking, great camping/pit areas, great organizers. You could do this race solo, duo, or as a group of three. I was signed up for the duo race. The basic premise, you and your partner swap laps for nine hours. Which ever team gets the most laps wins.
I knew right away it would be a competitive race when I realized that the teams were just categorized by age. It was open class, no separation for experts. The guys I was riding against regularly won the expert division at home.
The course basically broke down into three parts. It was a large loop around the lake. The first third was much like Bavington, fast trails through pines. The second third was straight up the mountain then a steep descent back to the lake. The last third was fast flat trails to the finish.
Quick recap - my first lap went pretty well, but I wasn't completely warmed up. Second lap I felt really good, my time was comparable to the first lap. Third lap my legs were really feeling tired, much more trouble getting up the mountain. Fourth lap, my legs were really hurting but I finished. I was very glad there was not a fifth lap. Somewhere around the third lap a quick storm blew in, my Continental mountain tires were perfect for the mud. My partner had to help an injured rider down the mountain on his second lap, so we couldn't see our finish time until a couple of days later. I would definitely go back to this race again!!
I had really, really wanted to get back to Mohican to better my time from the year before, but I couldn't talk any of the normal group to go. I knew I'd know some people there, but I lost my motivation to go alone. I really missed going, but Mark and I said we'd get out there for a good ride on our own. The rest of June was just a lot of local riding with one three hour ride at Seven Springs. Also did a family cruise toward the end of June.
The month of July was a lot of long road rides by myself. I really enjoyed those which is funny as I never thought I would like road riding at all. Also did a lot of riding at Deer Lakes with the dog. It's a blast to ride with the dog. He's so fast and never seems to tire. Oh, if only I had those traits. The highlight though was going to the Adirondaks for a short vacation. I took my mountain bike but should have taken my road bike. I got to see the old summer camp that I spent two summers during college working at.
Ellioctville was always I place I had heard about, and I knew it was an IMBA epic ride. It's just that I couldn't get my gang to get up to New York. So one day I decided I was going regardless. I got in my car and did the three hour ride. The little town of Ellicotville is a great little town where I'd like to spend more time. Got some directions from the local bike store and headed to the trails. It was an awesome day. Once you get to the top of the mountain, you just ride the ridges the rest of the day. The trails are flowy with lots of types of trails. I got lost a bit and repeated some trails, but finally got myself on track again. I'm really looking forward to going back again; I didn't even get to a whole section of trails. I rode for about four and a half hours doing about 25 miles.
August also saw my 50th birthday. That weekend a group of us went out to Mohican just to ride for fun. I was looking forward to this as I had missed the big race in June. The day started off ominously, it rained the whole way through Ohio. But when we pulled in, there was no rain and it appeared it had not rained at the trails at all. There were five of us, and our riding pace was perfect. We put in an awesome 25 flowing miles that day in around four hours (we took a nice break down by the covered bridge). I'm looking to going back annually.
My brother, my father, and I went golfing in Deep Creek to celebrate my birthday. It was awesome golf, and a lot of fun to get away with the guys, but this is a biking blog, so...
Went to Bavington to do all of the miles, but it didn't happen. It was very hot and my legs just didn't have it that day.
Got a call from Jeff wanting to know if I'd do the 24 hours of Seven Springs. I said yes. I had gotten away from the 24 hour races, but this time it met my goal to ride wherever I could. The team of guys was awesome. We entered the corporate class which used to be a casual division, but now it seems every bike shop's race team considered themselves a corporate team. Clearly we were in trouble. I was riding fifth so there was a lot of waiting. The plus side would be that I wouldn't have a 3 a.m. lap. But of course I had my usual luck. It started raining with the third and fourth riders, but it was light. I started my lap, and a torrential downpour let loose. Memories of Creek to Peak 24 hour race crept into my mind. It was if I was actually riding in creeks the whole way. It was ridiculous. But then the back half of the course was instead all mud. I got done with my lap; I was crushed. I actually put in a good lap time considering the conditions, and I was quite impressed with my Continental X Kings. Somewhere through the night and the continuing rain our team stopped racing. I got up in the morning and decided I was done as well; there was just too much mud.
The Bike the Wilds race series is a favorite of mine since it's grass roots and fairly casual with a lot of "older" riders. I couldn't get to any of them this season except for the Peanut Butter Festival race. The course was slightly different from the past years, but mostly took the original trails. I went to ride a solid ride not to really race. I felt very solid, had some low points about midway when my legs shut down a bit, but then they loosened up. Again things were wet from some recent rain which wasn't a problem until we got to the last fourth of the race. The wet roots were very challenging to ride. Lost all flow, but I finished. Ended up in eighth place in my division. A pretty good result considering everything. I then went to the festival and got a pulled pork sandwich.
End of September, Mark and I went back to Seven Springs. I wanted to go one more time when it was dry. We had a great ride, great pace, great conditions.
Mark finally got me to Michaux. He was working out there, so I drove and met him. We headed to his friends' house which was right on the border of Michaux. There was a group of about nine of us as we rode from the house right to the trails. Michaux is extremely rocky and technical, but unlike Moraine, the rocks are extremely tacky. Where I thought I would lose traction, I never did. Very early on, one of the guys went over the bars in a rocky section and popped out his shoulder. Not a good omen. We rode 19 miles and about four and a half hours. Awesome trails, and we hardly hit a third of them. I cannot wait to get back there. It was an epic ride, and I was completely exhausted by the end.
I did my time trial loop at North Park and did it in a time of 1:03. The good news is that my time is not worsening as I get older. It's better than some years and worse than others.
Finally did all of the miles at Bavington (at least the ones that I know of). Rode over 24 miles and four hours. The dog had absolutely no problem doing all of the miles.
As I look back at November, I shouldn't have been surprised I ended up in the hospital in December. Dirty Dozen was coming up after Thanksgiving, so I did a training ride starting from my parent's house. Now I didn't have much of a warmp up, but I couldn't even ride up the first hill in Aspinwall. I continued on and had to rest three times up Sharp's Hill. It was a horrible ride. I rode sparingly the rest of November, just feeling off a bit. I skipped the Dirty Dozen. I wasn't feeling right, but I couldn't put a finger on it.
I ended up in the hospital with abdominal problems. Emergency surgery was performed; spent 12 days in the hospital. I lost 20 pounds, mostly muscle. A second surgery in March. Though I had put on the lost 20 pounds, I lost another 15 pounds. I guess my problems in November were a warning sign to me.
2013 - I'll continue my recovery story in my 2013 race summaries...
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