Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 Bakers Re-cap

This is what 5th place looks like
Yes, another year and another great day for racing on the farm. Bakers was, as usual, another hammerfest of epic proportions (ok, maybe not epic), but none the less, pretty darn exciting and of course fun.

This year the temps were in the 80's and limited wind; couldn't ask for better conditions.

For the last three years, I have raced three different classes: 2 person male open (2nd place), 2 person co-ed (3rd place) and the ultra competitive 3 person co-ed (5th). This year I teamed up with my usual female counter-part in Liz, but we added Alex to the mix this year and teamed up for the 3 person co-ed.

Now, I can honestly say that I knew we would finish pretty high up because of our make-up. Lipstick
My wife loves my clash
and blush can really make a difference in how a man feels about himse…wait a minute, this is not going in the direction I thought it was. I have raced against Alex for years and knew what to expect from him. Last year, I was a little cautious with my first race with Liz, just because I had actually met her AT Bakers for the first time right before the race. I quickly realized that I didn't need to be cautious at all and quickly gained a new friend and race partner. So this year, we were poised to quick some butt.

Now, I look over the numbers in every category, not just the one I am in. I know what teams are going to be there until the end and the ones who will decide when to call it quits. I know from the past races, that the 3 person co-ed is a very competitive class. Super fast women and men, so we were not going to have an easy task at all. Now everyone on our team is 45+ years old and the teams that finished 1-4 are all in there 20's and early 30's; not hard to do the math here now is it?

Just good times with my friend Matty O'  from AFC

I was extremely happy with how I rode. It was the best Bakers I have had, at least from a consistency stand point.  My lap times were very close and got faster as the day went on-38:18, 38:17, 38:54, 37:43, 37:29, 40:13 and 46:35 which was a slow lap just to ensure a 5th place finish. I ended up doing a double night lap for Alex because he wasn't to keen with riding at night. All good. We finished in 5th place with 19 laps for the day and the Ritchey rode amazing. The farm is littered with roots, ruts and rocks everywhere and the bike handled it without a whimper. It was the first Bakers that I didn't come away feeling like I had just been beaten in the streets of downtown Baltimore and left for dead. The Bontrager RXL (dt swiss hubs) were super fast-no joke. I felt fast and the wheels certainly helped in that arena. I was passing geared guys all over the place and my frien Mark Stahl said he had trouble catching back up to me (he is fast) on his geared rig. He finally gave up. I had it geared at a smart 32x17 this year-perfect. I did throw a chain a couple of times, still not sure what caused it, but no big deal.

The team as a whole was spot on every lap as well. These types of races, especially near the end require a bit of strategy in order to keep pace, so it is great to have a team that you know how fast they are and when you can expect them in to the timing tent. It was a good fit this year and everyone was very excited to be there and just keep churning out laps. Liz was her usual, consistent self and is a great competitor. I am lucky to have her as a friend and team mate. It was also cool to finally get to race with Alex and not against him. Spending all the time running didn't hurt his riding abilities at all.

This is by far one of the best races around. The people, the course and the promoter all make it worth the drive and the time spent racing. You can catch up with people that you don't always get to chat with on a daily basis, but that is what makes the whole mountain bike scene what it is. You just pick up where you left off just as if you had just spoken with them the other day. I also got to see Jonathan Zawacki (friend of the shop) on the trails with the AV kit in all of it glory. At one point, I came up behind him and told him I was passing on the left…he paused and then yelled out "F-you, you are gonna have to earn it!" I had to keep myself from laughing out to hard for fear of choking on the dust, but that is what makes these races fun. Shout outs to Jon, Marc and Jeff Calderone, Robbe Smith, Ray Mercado and his crew and to all of the other cool people that I call my bros in the mtb arena that were all in attendance and of course my wife who always supports me on these crazy days.

This year saw a lot of crashes, some on the "eeeks" scale, but everyone was alright in the end. I came away unscathed. My wacky nutrition for the race was: saltines, peanut m&m's, water and Heed. I felt great all day. No soreness, no fatigue, no cramps…perfect.

If you have never tried a race such as the Bakers Dozen, think about it. You will make some lifelong friends and you may just have a bit of fun to boot.