Dirt, Sweat & Gears 12 Hour
I ventured down to Fayettesville, TN this past weekend for the inaugural Dirt Sweat & Gears 12 Hour Race. Located about 90 miles south of Nashville, the race venue is situated on private land consisting of over 250 acres of pristine private land with 10.6 miles of trails. The course, the venue, the promoters were first class and the men’s solo field was fast, fast, fast.
Due to heavy work load and less than ideal preparation, my final results were not what I had hoped for. Officially, I did 9 laps, as my 10th lap was not scored. Note to self – go to the riders meeting in the future. More on that later. Anyway, at the end of the day, I finished in 9th place out of 13th in a very competitive Men’s Solo class of enduro fast guys including Nat Ross, Josh Tostado, Tinker Juarez, Rob Lichenwalner, Ernie Marenchin, Sloan Anderson, Eddie O’Dea among others. The ladies field was also smoking fast. See the full results here.
We arrived at the venue on Friday just after lunch time. My Dad and I made the 600 mile trip in his motor home. Thanks Dad for the smooth sailing and for driving my carcass home! The race was held on 250 acres of privately owned land known as the Cotton Mill Preserve. Once we set up our pit area, I did a pre lap with Ernie in just over an hour. Based on the course and the climbing I was hoping for 10 or 11 laps. It was going to be a long, hard day of dirt, sweat and gears.
The promoters, Clay Higgins and Grant did a FANTASTIC job. These guys, along with a legion of volunteers deserve the highest praise for acheiving so much with a first year event. Full concessions, expo area, live music, PA system, running water, plenty of porto johns, you name it they had it. Super attention to detail. The venue itself was perfect for a 12 or 24 hour bike race. Plenty of good places to camp. I’ll be going back next year for sure.
The course was AWESOME with over 1,500 feet of climbing per lap. The terrain was rocky with lots of ups and downs. No real long sustained climbs but lots of ups and downs, a few of which were pretty steep and about 300-500 meters long. If your from Ohio, it was kind of a mix between The Secret Trail and Mohican Wilderness. Some super fast down hills as well.
The race started promptly at 8am on Saturday morning. A shot gun start and a short 100 meter run later and I was about 2nd to the bikes and 3rd behind Ernie and eventual winner, Nat Ross. I was pumped and riding hard and fast. I looked down and my HR monitor was showing 185…should I slow down...no must go fast…stay with the leaders. I was riding in the top 7 overall for much of the first 3-4 miles, then the pace began to take its toll, then the climbs came.
By half way through the second lap, I was cooked and had to back it off. My fitness was definitely not where it was at Razorback and the climbing was killing me. But the trail was too fun and the weather was too nice to quit. So I backed ‘er down and put it in survival mode and hoped to make up some ground and places later in the race.
Nat Ross lapped me twice and ended up with 12 laps. I was hoping for 10 laps and made the 7:15pm cutoff, but did not realize you had to finish your final lap before 8pm to have it counted. That is why I now reccomend going to riders meetings. So I went out for 10th lap at like 7:05pm with no chance of coming in before 8pm seeing that my only sub 1 hour laps was my very first lap. But I got to ride the course in the dark and test out my lights and got in some extra miles, so it was worth it.
Despite the results, I had a great time, met/saw some cool people, like Justin of Princeton Tec and Jeff of Ergon USA. I hope this race will help me GET MY CLIMB ON for the 100 milers to come including Mohican, Wilderness and Shenandoah.
With Ernie on Friday Prelap
3rd on the start
In the red Specialized Jersey in the lead pack.
Given 'er through the pit area.
Working the corner on the S-Works Hardtail