6 and 12 Hours of Temecula Race Report January 27, 2018 by Ken Winston
For this endurance mountain bike race, UC Cyclery/JW Floors was represented by the following:
This is a long standing race series that consists of a very hilly 8.2 mile course with about 1000 feet of climbing per lap. Contestants complete as many laps as possible in the allotted time, which for the 6 hour race is from 9 am to 3 pm and for the 12 hour race it is from 9 am to 9 pm. For the past few years I have competed in the 50-59 Men 6 hour solo, but this time I was motivated by teammate Bryan Taylor to take on the challenge of 12 hours. A few years ago I raced the 50-59 Men 12 hour solo category and swept the series. I decided it would be more fun to race with Bryan (age 45) in the same class. So instead of racing in our respective age groups we both entered the Open/Elite category. My hope was to finish on the podium with Bryan.
Bryan and I had been training for this by doing several 5-6 hour rides together. Each one was very painful since we pushed each other pretty hard. The key to a good 12 hour race is to start slow and save energy. Bryan had a plan to stick to a specific pace of 43-45 minutes a lap with a goal of 15 laps over the 12 hour period. He expected to negative split the last lap or two. I’ve ridden dozens of endurance races and never been able to negative split. I was skeptical, but agreed to the plan.
The first few laps required lots of patience! Our slow start had us back in the pack with inexperienced riders. This made me uncomfortable so on lap one, after about 3 minutes, I pushed a bit harder to clear us of danger, then settled in with Bryan on my wheel. We took turns pulling by alternating laps in the front. Lap after lap went by as we diligently and patiently held to Bryan’s steady lap time goals and staying locked on each other’s wheel. Bryan remained the more patient of the two of us by keeping the laps he led about a minute slower than those that I lead. He was being wiser and keeping me in check.
For about 6 hours we had no feedback on our position. Then around the 7 hour mark a friend at the side of the course informed us we were in 6th and 7th position. This upset me a bit but we decided that maybe the information was false and that we needed to stick to our plan because the competition was bound to slow down and we were still riding consistent 44-45 minute lap times. By night fall we had 10 laps in the books. We also had teammates in our pit (Monica from the 6 hour race that had ended and Rhonda who kindly offered to drive me home after a grueling race day) who gave us better feedback on our position. The word was that we were in 4th and 5th, 20 minutes behind 3rd. Neither of us noticed passing anyone in our class, but with many classes racing and no clear marking to show what class a rider is in it is easy to not notice! We had made some progress, but the rate of improvement was still disappointing to me. Bryan and I were still riding together and we discussed if we should risk a harder pace. We decided not to yet. We still had 3-4 hours of racing left. Could we possibly do 16 laps? We thought there was a remote chance but we would have to stay under 45 minutes/lap all the way to the end and the steep climbs were getting very difficult to get up. Many racers were walking the steep parts! Eleven, twelve, thirteen laps completed still holding 45 minutes/lap. Word from the pit was that we were holding 3rd and 4th position with 1st and 2nd ahead by 2 minutes and 3 minutes respectively. We held our pace, convinced now that podium positions for both of us were possible. Maybe even the win was possible now.
When we rolled into the pit together at the end of lap 14, Bryan wanted to change his light battery but had trouble locating it. This cost him precious time. Meanwhile, Rhonda was emphatic that we were now in 2nd and 3rd position and this would be our last lap. She made it clear that 1st place was 2 minutes up the trail and it was time to empty the tank. Being forced to choose between waiting for my teammate and chasing down the win, my animal instinct kicked in. I grabbed a water bottle, a caffeinated Roctane Gu and took off with a purpose. No more pacing! My legs responded. As my heart rate rose, I looked up the trail for a light that might be my prey but saw nothing within striking distance. I pushed harder while looking over my shoulder hoping that maybe Bryan was behind and closing the gap caused by his long pit stop. In my mind, the ideal outcome would be if we both passed the first place rider and then finish together, but how we would decide who would finish first I had no idea. That would be a great problem to have. But on this day the ideal outcome was slipping away. I could not see a light behind me.
Thirty minutes went by as I progressed on the lap in the dark. The most difficult climb was behind me and I was able to hold one cog smaller the whole way up. I knew the 1st place rider was near, but where? Then out of the darkness I spotted a the glow of a faint reflection. It was moving at about the right speed to be an open/elite rider. Within a few minutes I was on his rear wheel as we navigated a narrow technical trail with no room to pass. He would have to let me by or I would have to wait quite a while for the trail to open up. We had a short conversation: “behind you, can I get past?” I asked. Surprisingly he agreed immediately. He slowed and moved to the right as I tiptoed past on the narrow single track cut on the side of a steep hill. “What class are you in?” I asked, now in front of him. I got the answer I was looking for: “Open”. I pedaled faster, hoping our conversation would end. “What class are you?” he asked as I pulled away. Damn. I did not want to tell him, nor did I want to lie. So I tried pretending I didn’t hear the question. “WHAT CLASS ARE YOU?!” he repeated, louder this time. Okay, I had to answer: “Open” I said softly, hoping he would not hear and give up. “WHAT?!” he asked. Dang it. Okay. “OPEN!” I shouted and then attacked with what I had left. He did not appear to have enough in the tank for a fight! “Thank you for your pacing plan Bryan”, I thought as the gap widened between us.
One last twist to the story was that as I rolled up to the finish line after lap 15, relieved that I held off my competitor to what I thought was the end, I was told that it was “only” 8:07 pm. There were 53 minutes left and my competitor could easily do one more lap in that time. So instead of just completing the pass for first place and reaching the finish line for the win, I had to stay up front for another 8 mile lap. It turned out that Rhonda told me a little white lie about lap 15 being my last just to get me to go harder! It worked enough to get me in the lead, but I wondered if I had enough left to stay in front for another 45 minutes? I thought I did. Hmm, I wondered if there was enough time for Bryan to pass for 2nd and perhaps join me?
I rolled into lap 16, one lap farther than the pre-race goal Bryan and I had set. I spent the lap looking behind me for any head light that might be closing in the darkness. It was a lonely lap since most of the competitors had stopped racing. Occasionally I saw a light but it was difficult to tell if it was close enough to be a threat, or if it could be Bryan. The lap went by and no threat and no Bryan emerged though the darkness. Now within 2 minutes of the finish and passing near the pit complex, I heard rowdy cheering, and the promotor voice on the PA in what sounded like some sort of hype. The cheering was from Monica and Rhonda, now out on the course waiting to see who immerged from the darkness first. In addition, Bryan had stopped after his 15th lap and had joined the two girls to cheer for me. Wow, what special teammates! With all that encouragement I floated up the last climb and then dropped down to the finish to see not only my teammates but race promotor Jason Ranoa who greeted me with $100 in prize money. About a minute and a half later, Eric Zubick, AKA “the prey” rolled in. No other racers completed the 16th lap, so Bryan secured a 3rd place finish out of 11 in class and his own payday of $25.
Other team results:
Pascal’s race summary
The start with 200 plus riders is always tricky. I started at a fast pace to avoid losing time behind slower riders in the single tracks. The 8 miles course had 2 major climbs. The 2 climbs were back to back, followed by rapid and technical trails until the finish line. I crested over the top of the first punchy climb within the top ten. After a speedy downhill I entered the steep switchback climb without any traffic. Our honorary teammate and friend Cesar Mora caught me after the long downhill through the “Tunnel of Love”. For the next 6 hours, Cesar led for the technical sections where I followed his perfect lines, in return I dictated a hard but manageable tempo up the hills. After 5 laps we started to encounter traffic from riders we had lapped. Navigating the traffic in the fast downhill sections was complicated with a few close calls. However, our speed barely diminished. We knew that one of my competitors Eric Bierman was ahead of me. On lap 8 our hard work started to pay off, Eric was in sight. I told Cesar to slow down and recover a bit because all the pressure was on Eric at that point. This was a perfect scenario for me. We caught Eric before starting lap 9, our last lap. I accelerated on the first climb, created a gap, and did not look back. I won the 40-49 category and placed 3rd overall. Cesar was racing open men where he finished 3rd place, getting a spot on the prestigious podium and 4th overall. I would like to extend a special thanks to Dave at UCC for his help in getting my new S-Work Epic and Ken for assembling the new bike so quickly.
Monica’s race summary:
Prior to this race, I had raced the SoCal Endurance races as a duo - so this race was going to be my first one solo. It was also going to be one of my longest (6hr) and greatest in elevation gain. So my strategy was to set a pace I could maintain for 7 laps and follow Bryan and Ken's advice.
Ana Silva and I were both racing open - and I was looking forward to seeing if we were similar in pace to ride some laps together. Unfortunately, Ana was not feeling well due to lingering symptoms from her last illness and had to pull put early.
My first 3-4 laps went pretty quickly and I was happy with my average lap time. I hardly saw any women one the course - so I had no idea where I was in the field or how many I was competing against. On lap six, going up the switch backs, I felt a little twinge of a cramp coming on my inside quad. I doubled up on the electrolytes and luckily held it at bay. Going into my 7th lap, I was glad that I still felt descent and told myself to not make any silly mistakes. To my shock, two of my friends were waiting at the top of the switch back climbs cheering me on! It was just what I needed to climb that steep pitch for the last time. I tried to finish the rest of the lap strong and was so happy to finish 7 laps with about 20 minutes to spare on the clock. I had reached my goal and surprised myself with my overall time. I even won first place and $100 dollars!