18 Hours of Scouts Honor

For the 2009 race season, this was to be my last mountain bike relay race. Scouts Honor is probably the best bang for buck relay race in the Mid-Atlantic Region. It takes place at a boy scouts camp that has cabins, teepees and a fort you can stay in--or you can camp out. The added bonus compared to other races is indoor plumbing for toilets and showers and even an A/C mess hall with free breakfast!

The DCMTB Team was to be comprised of Darren, Mike, Tyler and Leland. Mike unfortunately got hurt in a wreck 2 weeks prior and was not able to attend. We had decided just to give it a go as a 3-person team in the 4-person division and use it for training for the SM100. One big hurdle is getting to the race. It happens to be the same weekend that many kids are going back to college, so a 2-hr trip took us 4 hours.

We get to the race 15 minutes before the required team meeting, and at registration we ended up picking up a random rider whose name was Mike. Coincidence? He was the Hawley rep for Richmond. I asked him if he was fast and he said he was expert skills and sport level fast, so I figured he would be ok. We set up our camp site right on the course so that once someone came by, you would have five minutes to get down to the start/finish.

The Start

It was decided that I would do the first lap. The race had a casual roll out lap and then we were on the race course. I tried to stay near Calvin and Ian (a new DCMTB member). I ended up passing them both and hooked up with the lead group. We were going around and I was feeling pretty good. The trail was really fast, and at this point it was too dry, being a little washed out at the corners. I was starting to feel a little itchy, and I noticed that there was a fast single speeder that was about three riders in front of me that wasn't going as fast as I would like on the straightaways. I went to look ahead and had an out-of-nowhere pedal strike on an isolated rock. I then was bucked off my seat, riding my top tube, veering off toward a destined wreck. I ended up in a four-foot ditch off the trail, very stunned. I tried to get my wits about me and get back on the trail. Surprisingly, no one had come up behind me yet. We must've had a 30-40 second gap. So I get back on the bike and for the next two miles I'm kind of out of it, but riding ok. I ended up finishing the lap with a 46.

The rest of the guys put in solid laps with Tyler doing a low 50s and Leland putting in I think a 50 and our new recruit Mike putting in something in the mid-50s.

2nd Lap

The Scouts Honor race is different from most races because it is mostly a nighttime race. It starts at 4 p.m. and goes until 10 a.m. On my second lap I was hoping to get it in before nightfall. I went blazing out of the gates and was really feeling good. Since I had already done one lap I was more familiar with the terrain and was able to take my lines a little better. I passed Calvin and several other riders and then came upon one of the two unicyclists in the race. I was calling out, "Behind you. Behind you. I'm coming behind you," but that did not seem to make him pull to the side of the trail. So I ended up right on his wheel during a rooty downhill section. He then wrecked. On a side note, when unicyclists wreck, they don't wreck like mountain bikers. When unicyclists wreck, they jump off the bike and leave the unicycle right in the trail. I ended up hitting his tire with my front tire, which then exploded my front tire off my rim (I was running tubeless stands with UST rims). I swore, which I don't usually do, because our team was in one of the top two positions at the time. That was kinda the unicyclist's fault (I did talk to him later and he said he had called out to me, but I was not able to hear what he was saying). What was my fault was that I had a hole in my spare tube that I had not used for a year, and my air cartridges were not working correctly. I ended up messing around for 20 minutes on the trail until several people came and helped me, giving me a tube and air. So that lap turned into a 1:09, with me having to use my light for the second half of the lap. The other guys pulled pretty strong laps and so although we went from second to third, we were looking good.

3rd Lap

On the third lap, I went out on a mission to try to recoup some of that time that I'd lost on the flat. I really pushed it on the hills and tried to keep a fast pace through the corners. I was finding that I was having to dig a little bit deeper than I would've liked on the uphills to keep my momentum going. I ended up pulling in a 46 minute lap--about the same speed as my first lap in the daylight--which was pretty incredible for me since my night laps are usually five to ten minutes slower depending on the course. Everyone else pulled some decent laps, keeping us firmly in third place.

4th Lap

The fourth lap is the dreaded lap of all...it is the late night/early morning lap. I went out at 3 a.m. or so and wanted to keep it going. I had eaten well and stretched out, so I was ok physically. My main issue during this lap was my focus. I kept trying to keep myself looking 20 feet up the trail, but my focus kept going to five feet in front of my bike, which made me react to the trail instead of anticipating turns. Also, during turns I found myself leaning instead of manhandling the bike like I should've. The fatigue had really started to set in. To keep my momentum going, I was using a lot lower gear so I could spin up the wheel quickly. I was also having to stand a lot more to keep the pressure on the pedals and keep my pace going unless I wanted to downshift and just granny up stuff. I came in with my slowest lap at I think around 51. Tyler was having the same problems as I was with the focusing on the trail, and everyone else pulled their slowest laps as well.

Around this time, we were looking at results to see how far back we were, and we noticed that we were in 2nd place. We didn't think this was possible because the team that we were behind was pulling 45-minute laps with some of the riders. We found out that they must've gone too hard and two of their riders had some really bad knee troubles, so they decided to pull out instead of riding the rest of the race with 2 team members.

Last Lap

I ended up with the dawn lap, and I made the bold choice of bringing no lights. I find that the dawn and sunset laps are some of the hardest because you're typically dealing with natural light and artificial light on the trail. What is always great about the last lap is that you can leave it on the trail. When I went out the fatigue was still there, but my focus and reacting was a lot better than before. Just like a wet sponge, I squeezed all the water out, and I ended up pulling a 47 for the lap. Tyler pulled a pretty good lap and said he was pretty beat. Leland, "the young buck," was determined to do a good lap even though I don't think he had to. He ended up pulling his second-fastest lap of the race. The final times were confusing because we didn't know exactly where we were. When Leland came in, he was battling against the person behind him, but we had to triple check to ensure that that person's team was actually a lap behind us. We ended up being a lap ahead--so Mike, our substitute rider, did not have to go out. We finished our race around 9 o'clock instead of around the 10 o'clock time.

Final Thoughts
  • Leland was the revelation of the race. I believe with his motocross skills, he was really able to rip up the course and he put up some really fast times. Being that this kid is only 22, he is only going to get better.
  • The course was great--a combination of Lodi and Schaeffer Farms. Would be a good course for a single speed.
  • The dew was insane...but with the course being so dusty, the dew made the night laps really great on the trail. Unless it was in your tent, however, all of your stuff was wet.
  • Special thanks to Sara for coming down. Even though she wasn't able to see the race, she was able to see the awards presentation with us getting 2nd place...and was able to drive my tired self back to my parents' house for a restful day laying in the lake and in the bed.
  • And don't forget the free breakfast!

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