This past weekend J.C. Lakey, Travis Counsell, and Jason Lee (and their spouses) headed down to Ocala for the 12 Hours of Santos endurance race. This is Travis’ account of the event:
For Jason and myself, Santos was our first 12 hour, but J.C. is used to doing well in these events solo! We raced in the 4-man sport group (though with only 3 riders) and had a blast.
Friday and Saturday night we camped at the race site. The first night was filled with the sweet sounds of RV generators, which did not make for very restful sleep. Saturday night we got smart and moved away from the RV’s and found a little peace and quiet. It was very chilly all weekend, even for a Vermont boy like me, with frost on our tents both nights. Thankfully my wife and I had our German Shorthaired Pointer, Stella, curled up with us in the sleeping bag, which is like having a heated blanket.
The race started Saturday morning at 10am, which gave us time to do a quick warm up lap. Jay and I had never ridden Santos and it was nice to see it before going full speed. The start/finish was located in a technical section of the trail called “The Vortex” featuring steep climbs and rocky descents. It took some skill and concentration right from the start and certainly got the heart rate up! The middle of the course was quick, flowing single-track similar to Munson Hills.
It was a Le Mans start which means you run up a gravel road from the start line to your bike and then hop on and start riding. Ever run on loose gravel in your cycling shoes? It’s…interesting. J.C. started us off and found an clever alternate use for a top tube adapter, which made it a whole lot easier to find and grab his bike.
Each lap was 7.5 miles long. With several hundred riders out there, it made for a crowded course at first, but thankfully things spread out as the laps went by. When the 6 hour solo race was finished the trail cleared even more.
Our laps averaged about 42 minutes. We’d each do a lap and trade off to the next guy. You’d push hard for 40-45 minutes, then have almost an hour and a half to recoup some energy before your next lap. It was tough work and the brisk temps and wind cooled you down quickly when you weren’t on the bike. Luckily we had a fire pit which the ladies kept stoked. Caffeine was essential to scrounge up some energy as the day progressed.
At sunset we still had a few hours of racing to go, so all of our final laps were in the dark. This added some fun to the mix. You know what I mean if you’ve ever done any night-riding in the woods. It slowed us down a little, but we still powered out laps in the mid 40-minute range.
In the end, we finished with 16 laps. J.C. did the first and final laps. We were 16th overall group and 10th in the sport class. We were the 1st three man team. Maybe we were a little overzealous to register for sport class (with two of us having never raced endurance before) and a move down to base would have resulted in a 4th place finish! No one can accuse us of sandbagging. Maybe next year we’ll train a little more seriously!
All told it was a great weekend and a good taste of endurance racing. I don’t think I’ll be entering a 12 hour solo anytime soon, but being part of a team made for some fun riding and a good time.
For more information on the race and results see the event website.