A group of us traveled up to Salmon, Idaho for the 2nd Annual 12 Hours of Disco race. I remember seeing pictures of last year’s event and thought it sounded like fun to do a ‘grassroots’ style event before it got too big. The event seemed to be already a quite a bit larger than last year with teams travelling from Montana, Boise, Teton Valley and Utah. This would be my 2nd 12 Hour mountain bike event ever, with the first one being the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde in 2009. This year I partnered up with fellow teammate Michael Shaw to form ‘Team 970 – Eastside Cycles’. 970 not only refers to the area code of my phone number, but also to the sweet new Rocky Mountain bicycles (Vertex and Element 970s) both Shaw and I purchased this year from Eastside Cycles. Other teammates in tow include Eric Zuber (w/ Tim Phillips), Angela Haener (Pit Boss) and Beth Fortuna (w/ Jon Odle). Close Eastside friends that shared our pit spaces for the day included Dave (Pit/Mechanic extraordinaire) and Michelle Byers, Nancy Odle, Brent and Lisa Gorman and Mike Sherman.
As the race got closer, the forecast got less desirable for a 12 Hour race. We left Boise with high hopes for dry weather, but as we pulled into Stanley, we received an email from the race director that the event was still on, but due to heavy rains the event may be shortened to a 6-hour race. The closer we got to Salmon, the weather got worse. We arrived in Salmon mid-afternoon, and picked up our race packets. No additional information was available about the potential length and actual course to be raced on the next day. Bentonite soils in the area turn to a sloppy, sticky mess when mixed with rain, making riding a bike impossible. We met up the Zuber van shortly after picking up race packets and drove out to the race venue to stake out canopy spots for our various teams and friends. At the race venue, the race official and course director were discussing options and it sounded like the most probable choice would be to do a 4 to 6 mile gravel road circuit instead of the original 8-mile single-track course. Potential race lengths also were being mentioned in the 4-hour range. My personal goal of this race was not necessary a good race result, but rather a good intense workout of longer duration. I was disappointed to think of the original 6 hours of racing I was going to get as a 2-person team was potentially going to be cut down to 2 hours. The USA cycling official was very receptive to hearing opinions and we voiced our preference of doing at least an 8-hour event, trails or no trail. Shortly after leaving the race venue, we received another email from the race director informing us that the event would be an 8-hour event and run from 10 to 6. Course was still to be determined.
We awoke Saturday morning to partly cloudy skies and it seemed like the overnight forecasted rain did not come. We arrived at the race venue about 8:30 to set up our canopy and race pits for the day. At 9:30 we attended the pre-race meeting where it was announced that we would be racing on the original race course with a slight modification. The lap would be slightly longer to avoid a stretch of bentonite soils. This was a surprise, since we had all resigned ourselves to racing on the gravel roads for the day, but we were excited for the opportunity and hoping for dry weather for the duration. The race started with a Le Mans start and Shaw was going to get us started. Our plan was to start with 2-laps each and then probably change to 1-lap turns. Each lap was 8.3 miles and 900 feet of climbing. We estimated each lap to take about 40 minutes and thought it might force us to pace ourselves better if we did 2-laps at a time early on. Most teams, including Zuber/Phillips, chose to do 1-lap turns.
The race started with the chaos of the Le Mans start, shot gun start and with Zuber getting on his bike first, sprinting a ¼ mile up the road to a 180 turn onto the race course and through the start/finish area. Zuber was going for the fastest lap prime and had a good shot at it by getting the whole before the course turned to single track. The leaders after lap 1 came in around 35 minutes with Zuber in 2nd place behind a very fast Teton Valley racer. Shaw came in a minute or two later in 7th, but was also pacing himself for a 2-lap effort. Shaw rode a very strong first two laps and then I was off with our team in 5th overall. My first lap was kind of sloppy and I was trying to big ring the entire course and grind it out. I wish we were able to pre-ride the course the day prior, so I would have known what to expect. This resulted in my back starting to get fatigued and me continuing to ride sloppy. My first lap ended (3rd team lap) in about 38:00 according to the Garmin and I decided I needed to ride smoother and go back to my natural spinning style instead of trying to grind it out. The 2nd lap went much better, and I felt a lot more fluid in my riding. The course consisted of mostly single track with rocky descents and a lot of short sustained climbs. The course was in great condition, with very tacky conditions. The end of each lap consisted of a really fast and long downhill leading to a short dirt road climb back to the start/finish area. My second lap ended up being about 30 seconds slower than the first, but was still 38:30 minutes. Tim Phillips caught me at the end of the lap, which was exciting since the race was now on between Team 970 and Zuber / Phillips. My average speed for the 16+ miles was 13.1 mph, which I was very happy with.
Next off, Shaw took off (team lap 5) with Zuber having about 20 seconds on him. Shaw went out in hot pursuit of Zuber. I cooled down for a few minutes and then checked the leader board. Zuber/Phillips were sitting in 3rd place with Team 970 in 4th. During my 2 lap stint, I had decided that we should switch over to 1-lap turns, but failed to communicate this to Shaw as we transitioned in my half-state of delirium. Shaw pounded out a very fast 5th lap having spent the majority of the lap riding with Zuber. Zuber tagged off to Tim and Shaw came through all guns blazing as well. I yelled at him as he neared if he was going out for another, hoping he would slow down and tag out. Instead, Shaw came through en fuego in hot pursuit after Tim. Unfortunately, the 1-lap turns of Zuber/Tim got the best of us and they opened up a 2-minute lead on the 6th lap, and we fell back to 5th place. Shaw finished our 6th lap and I was out.
Riding 1-lap was a joy and very fun to rail the entire course and know what to expect allowing me to push my limits. I came through and held our 5th place position. It seemed like we were down 3 minutes to 3rd place and only 1 minute on 4th place. Shaw took off and I was very hopeful to start reeling in 4th place as we switched over to 1-lap turns. After cooling down, refueling, I was ready and waiting to go back out; 1-lap hammer fests were fun! As I waited for Shaw to return from his lap, it began to get much colder and drizzle. Tim came through and Zuber was back out on the course. I believe at this point, Tim had caught Pro Leisure Team #1, putting them in 2nd place overall in the duo category! I expected to see Shaw in the next few minutes. The 4th place team rolled in 3 minutes after Zuber, so I was expecting to see Shaw at any moment now. At this time, it seemed like we had a very strong hold on 5th place and had the opportunity to battle for 4th place and maybe even 3rd in the remaining 3 hours of the race. Additional minutes passed and both myself and 6th place Pro Leisure team rider Aaron Nelson were wondering where Shaw was. Aaron’s teammate came thru and informed me Shaw had flatted shortly into his last lap, Bummer! More minutes passed and still no Shaw! A few more minutes and Shaw arrived telling me that I would most likely have to do 2-laps since he had torn his sidewall open. As a result of the mechanical, we lost about 13 minutes.
I went out on our 9th lap and chose to ride a little conservatively in case I did have to do back to back laps. The weather started to turn and the entire lap consisted of a light drizzle. The course condition was still great until I exited the final single track of the lap and got back on the last 0.5-mile or so of dirt road back to the start/finish area. The road was super slick and I began to immediately accumulate mud turning my lightweight full-suspension race machine into a heavy, mud-caked blob. I came thru the transition area in 40 minutes, hoping to see Shaw, so I wouldn’t have to go out on another lap. I came thru and did not see Shaw, so I continued. About 20 seconds into the lap, Shaw yelled to me, and we switched riders. At this time, it was now pouring and I was convinced the race was going to be ‘called’ if it continued to rain like this. The rain continued and about 5 minutes later, the race was ‘called’ and no additional racers were let out on course. Shaw pounded out a very wet and muddy last lap ending our 10th lap with a sprint finish with another solo-category rider, which ended in Shaw sliding thru the transition area in the mud. The great thing is, Shaw didn’t even know the race was cancelled and was just going out for a fun sprint at the end of a lap. A few minutes later, Shaw came back to the pit area and asked why I wasn’t on my bike. I informed him the race was canceled and then proceeded to take pictures of a very muddy and messy bike and rider.
The 12 Hours of Disco ended with 6.5+ hours of racing, but it was still a blast! I was glad the race was cancelled early, mainly since I did not want to go back and trash my bike in the mud for another lap or two! It continued to rain heavily for the next few hours, and time was spent cleaning mudding bikes and swapping stories with other racers. 12 Hour races as a duo-team are super fun and intense. Going forward, I think I will definitely try to do a 12-hour event each year as part of a team. Definitely a different style of racing, sort of combining XC and Endurance into one event coupled with lap strategies and pit logistics.
A total of 34 duo teams raced and we ended up 5th overall. Shaw was an amazing teammate and his positive personality is a huge asset to Team Eastside. Zuber/Tim did awesome and ended up 2nd overall, while overcoming 2 flats on laps 2 and 3 (I think). Finally, Beth finished her first endurance mountain bike race! Her and Jon Odle completed 7 laps total and finished 22nd overall. This included Jon being delayed for 1.5+ after providing 1st responder care to a hurt racer on the course during the 1st lap. It turned out the racer broke their nose and neck and ended up being taken to the hospital via Life Flight. Kudos to Jon for seeing the ‘big picture’ and stopping to help!
Great job to all the racers and it was a great pleasure to meet more riders from Boise. Big shout out to Team Pro Leisure, you got a great group of riders and are super fast! Even though the race was cut short, it was a blast to hang out with so many friends in a new area!