Written by Kevin Ryan Saturday, 07 October 2017 00:00
I’ve done the 12 Hours of Bradbury Race every year since 2011. I’ve done this race as part of a 2-man team, 3-man team, 4-man team, and 3-person co-ed team. Now that I think of it, I’ve never raced with the same person twice. This year I was on a 3-man team with Bikeman team members Scott Burrill and Ryan Littlefield.
Scott has been training particularly hard and has had a great year of endurance racing, earning several spots on the podium. As such, we decided that he would go out for the first lap. Scott and another fast guy, Eric Oickle, came in at the same time while Brian Oickle (Eric’s brother) and I were waiting at the transition area. Brian is a faster rider than I am (Brian ended up winning fastest lap) so I followed him out. I went about as hard as I could and stayed on his wheel for a minute or two before he pulled away. I knew there was nobody on the course for me to pass (and hence slow me down) so I decided to attempt a sub 40-minute lap. Despite riding as hard as I could, I came in at 40:46. Oh well.
This year’s race bike was an almost brand-new Kona Hei Hei Race DL, and its SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain had not yet had any adjustments to it. Throughout the lap the rear derailleur did not want to shift down into smaller rings. I immediately took the bike to the LL Bean tent (Bean provides free service during the race) and their master mechanic Tim Doolittle, through adjusting various screws and replacing a cable, was able to get my bike shifting flawlessly – thanks Tim! As an aside, Kona did a great job with the Hei Hei. Several other team members also ride them and are pleased. They really have the geometry dialed in, and the frame is as stiff as it gets.
After Ryan came back from his first lap, I checked the timing tent and saw that we had a solid lead for first place. From then on, I rode fast, but also a little more conservatively – no need to risk a crash or mechanical. I did crash, nonetheless - despite having ridden the Batcave trail countless times, my front wheel grabbed a root and I went flying over the bars. I had enough time in the air to think, “this is going to hurt,” but luckily I landed on dirt and both my bike and I were unscathed.
My third and fourth laps went well. I passed more than a handful of other racers and got some ride time in with a few friends (good riding with you Tracy and Jim!). My fifth and final lap was a bit rough, as I hadn’t eaten quite enough beforehand, and managed to lose a bottle of Tailwind. I knew it was my last lap though, and had fun anyway.
We ended up with 16 laps total. Ryan and I did five and Scott did six (he got stuck with the night lap). We stayed in first place for the entire race and ended with a good lead. Great racing with you Scott and Ryan!
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