12 Hours in the Papago is a local’s favorite way to kick off the season. 2012 was the last time I had competed in this race, and was super excited to line up for the 7:00am start. This was my first race riding on my new NiteRider setup. The only downside to the 7am was start was that I could expect 1, maybe 2 night laps. No worries though, I had already broken in my lights proper in the weeks leading up to the race.
The only way to describe the pace of this race is fast and furious. It’s a short course, 7.2 miles per lap. I was coming in between 33 and 37 minutes for the first 12 laps. Though the total elevation gain is nominal for a typical 12hr race, the short and punchy climbs were enough to take notice deep into the race. Especially when there was traffic on the longest climb, which seemed to be almost every lap. I burned more than a few matches attempting to overtake riders on this climb, but with only 1 line to the top, it was a big challenge on the SS.
The engine was running well the entire day. I was on pace to match my 2012 lap count of 19, when I ran a 32×19. I had chosen to run 32×18 this year and it seemed to be a good call.
My son had a midday soccer game, so my pit crew was expected to show up later in the afternoon. I knew I was in 2nd most of the day and had been lapped by Hunter Keating (Harmony Systems Pro Cycling Team). Hunter looked like his bike was being propelled by rocket fuel. There was no way I was going to reel him in, and I was concerned about my gap on 3rd closing. There’s a spot on the course (the canal), where you can see riders on the opposite side. I kept seeing the same SS rider about 5-7 minutes behind and closing with each lap. I assumed this to be the 3rd place rider. When my crew finally showed up, my wife confirmed, “you’re 5 minutes up on 3rd.” I decided to get my lights on earlier than needed, grab my vest and load up on nutrition. I would not pit again for the next several hours.
Coming hot through the pit area on lap 16, I called out to my wife, “time ahead?” “Just minutes, but…….” she stopped me dead in my tracks, “you’re actually a lap up.”
The so-called “bad race intel” I received earlier, was actually a big boost and I’m better for it. I would’ve been tempted to settle into a slower pace, just one mechanical or bad decision away from losing my position. I learned after the race that once my wife had figured out I was a lap up on third, my son pleaded with her not to tell me, “he’ll slow down” he said. Love that kid!
Singlespeed podiums are serious business #12hoursinthepapago A photo posted by Rich Maines (@richmaines) on
Final Results: 2nd place Solo Male Singlespeed, 128.7 miles, 8,373 ft total climbing