Even though the season ended a month and a half ago, the last race of the year for our team is the 12 hour race at Haw Ridge. We don't really have any race fitness left but it is such a fun event that we go and give it our best. In fact, at times it seems to be a big Halloween party that sort of has a bike race going on in the background. We LOVE this race.
This year was going to prove to be a BIG one. The weather was great (after a little rain scare early in the week...) and we had 2 Vantaggio teams signed up along with a couple of men's teams from Chattanooga and a solo rider. In fact, we got there early Friday and set up what could only be described as a Chattanooga "compound". There were tents, more tents, a pop-up camper, a fire pit, pumpkins, banners and of course a pinata (Sponge Bob, thanks Mark). We handily monopolized an entire corner of the field. Thanks Mark for all the planning and set up, we all really appreciated it, even if we did call you "camp dictator" all weekend...
The race ran from 11am to "last rider out" at 11pm, effectively making it a 13+ hour race. I was the first rider out for our team and Lisa was the first rider out for the other Vantaggio squad. At the firing of the cannon (yes, I said cannon...big LOUD cannon...) we were off. OUCH. I am NOT in race shape. Th first lap really hurt. A lot. Both teams rode consistent laps and the team I was on (myself, Shannon, Paula, and Emily) took the lead and never looked back.
We did have a scare a dusk; I was doing double laps and headed out with my lights on, knowing I would be finishing my second one on the dark. After lap one I headed out for a second lap and as got into it about 10 minutes I decided it was time for the lights. Hey, where are my lights? Why is it not turning on? Uh oh. This is BAD. I decided I had about 30 minutes until it was BLACK outside and there was about 40 minutes left in my lap. Okay, let's pedal like a mad woman and see what happens. I rode possessed until I was bouncing off the trees (yes, that hurts) and then I found a really nice woman that let me follow her the rest of the way out. Yikes. That was not the easiest thing I have ever done. I only lost about 5-6 minutes that lap from what my lap time should have been. I was LUCKY. We very easily could have lost the race right there.
On the other Vantaggio squad, (Star, Lisa, Gina and a friend of theirs Kim), things were a bit more exciting. On Star's first lap she had a jammed chain and lost a lot of time fixing it. Her second lap she took a wrong turn and went down a really fun descent that was NOT ON THE COURSE.... it was apparently a long hike back up. Gina had been sick all week (not just sort of sick...really "throwing up" type sick) but decided to tough it out anyway. She had a few issues with some of the trees ( I believe one grabbed her bike at one point and stole it) but even sick she did great!! They had a really good time and Star and Gina get the award for the longest night lap. they went out on the last lap together (for moral support) and 1:45 later they rolled back in laughing.
Both of our men's teams did really awesome. Mark "camp dictator" and company won the sport division. Time to upgrade guys. Next year the Open category has your name all over it.
The other team (our college boys...) got second in the open category. ( Just think how fast you guys would have been if you weren't drinking beer at 11am....) They took the whole "Halloween party" thing to a whole new level and started early. Amazingly, when they started to do well they switched from beer to Gatorade and turned back into bike racers. Ah, youth.
Paul, our solo rider, stuck it out for 11 laps and finished 5th. AWESOME job. That's 99 miles.
The Vantaggio ladies ROCKED. My team won. 14 laps in 12 hours 45 minutes. The other squad finished 4th with 10 laps in 12 hours 15 minutes. GREAT JOB GIRLS. We had a ton of fun and I am already planning for next year.
Bill was there and took a few pictures before he decided that hanging out was more fun than hiking through the woods, so look for some photos in the near future.
Thanks for a really fun weekend everyone. It is one I will remember for a long, long time.