Last spring was the inaugural event for HereForTheSwag at the Leesburg Bakerâ€™s Dozen 13 hr race. This was a 3 person co-ed team new to endurance racing, and actually, racing in general. We couldnâ€™t have picked a better event to get our feet wet. The atmosphere and ambiance of the event was perfectly enticing to racing new comers and helped foster an interest in endurance events. It was as serious or fun as you wanted to make it. A few tents down from us were team racers with blinding fast laps, and on the flipside, the guys next to us cracked a beer after every lap. The course is just under 8mi of twisty, tight and fast single track with no long climbs. Itâ€™s fast, and thereâ€™s enough obstacles; rocks, logs, and small drops to keep the course exciting. With the fun of LBD fresh in my mind it didnâ€™t take much arm-twisting from a HereForTheSwag member to convince me a weekend in northern Virginia was a good idea. After a bit of prodding the Trek of Pittsburgh stores provided me with a travel buddy and I was on my way.
Friday was a slow day and slow pre-ride, as it is usually for us. Some picture taking and playing on obstacles drew the 7 point something miles out to about an hour and half ride. The course was slick Friday. It was a crunchy mix of ice and snow that sapped your momentum outside of the tire tracks. The area west of DC was also colder then I expected. Each night we were there was below freezing which was a good thing for the trails. Aside from an inch or two of squishy cold muck in some areas, the trails were covered in a granular snowy ice mixture that kept speeds high.
A bit of disappointment with my heart rate monitor led to an idea on improved design. After the pre-ride and some hot showers the three of us pre-gamed with stowed growlers from The Church Brew Works here in Pittsburgh then headed to a Dogfishhead brewpub for some sustenance. No mountain bike trip should be complete without good beer, so these were essential points on the weekendâ€™s itinerary. I wished it wasnâ€™t the night before a race and I could have enjoyed the setting properly, but Dogfishhead may have been the catalyst of us being a (wo)man down when it came time to race.
Pulling up to the farm slightly later then planned and minus a rider we realized that for the ass-end of January, the private farm in Leesburg was still a big draw for mountain bikers. There were a couple hundred racers, many gleefully anticipating a few laps around the course in pretty frigid conditions.
After I got my bike set up and my grabbed my packet and timing chip, one pivotal moment of the weekend was comically documented. I turned from the registration table when my friend approached with camera raised in hand poised for a picture of my face. Before he captured the moment he asked something like: â€œGuess what you forgot when we changed cars this morning?â€ I replied: â€œNo ideaâ€¦â€ The subject of his reply might have been the difference of a few positions for both of us: â€œALL the water bottlesâ€¦â€ Those might not have been the exact words since all I clearly remember was saying â€œAhhh F*#@!â€ Neither of us were in contention to win the race, and it wasnâ€™t life threatening, or would it prevent us from riding the race so we had a few laughs about it and moved on. Water would have been nice though (and it wasnâ€™t only my fault). The beginner class was the first to line up and head out. My riding buddy and I stayed next to one of the fires as long as we could and lined up near the rear of the sport group hoping to absorb an extra bit of warmth. After some traffic on race day the trails were widened and packed enough to make riding much easier then Friday. The course was a blast to ride and much faster then the pre-ride. There were a few slight alterations to the LBD course. Most notable was that Snotcycle was ridden in the opposite direction. In either direction the course is fun, although I missed riding down some of the small drops at Snotcycle.
Knowing I didnâ€™t have any hydration I started the first lap at a pretty tame pace hoping to save some energy for the final lap. I did little preparation for the event that only consisted of normal commutes to work and a few indoor trainer sessions. Accepting that I wasnâ€™t that well prepared I was hoping for a mid pack finish. About a mile into the first lap I lost my buddy due to an icy rock and proceeded to pick off a couple other sport riders. My second lap was the quickest. The pack had thinned and the course seemed to be in the best condition. Somewhere around my 15 mile mark I started to feel the effects from the lack of hydration. Although I was comfortable in the cold thanks to some great kit items the lack of water and electrolytes on my unconditioned body was taking its toll. While expert riders were hammering past me on my final lap I was fiending for the promises of fire, smores, and a Daleâ€™s Pale Ale. I finished the race without any mechanicals or crashes and headed straight to the large bonfire. After absorbing some warmth I headed over to the finish line and waited to catch a pic of my friend Matty finishing the race. When he crossed the line we headed straight for the car and some Daleâ€™s. Iâ€™m grateful those werenâ€™t left behind. A few laughs, turkey sandwiches and smores later we were packing up and heading out.
Leesburg proved to be a great venue once again. Itâ€™s too bad for this group of riders that we didnâ€™t jump on the LBD sooner. The 13 hr. race hosted at the Leesburg farm in April is already capped at 400 riders. To preserve the grassroots feel of the race organizers cap registration. This year the LBD race was full three days after registration opened â€”kudos to the promoters and organizers. Thanks to all who helped and organized the Snotcycle event and congrats to the fellow Pittsburghers who placed well. Iâ€™m looking forward to riding the farm again.
Click here for race results.