A few weekends ago I made the long trek to the "U.P." for some racing. My father-in-law and I first raced the "12 Hours of Potluck" together in 2007 and decided it was time to do it again. Four years ago, this was my first ever mountain bike race. Back then, I was a late addition, a replacement for someone dropping out. At the time I thought I was in good shape, but I got schooled by the climb. I also raced on the oldest, junkiest, single-speed bike in the whole race. This year I was ready to improve on my previous performance.
The course, a roughly 6 mile loop through typical UP forest, is just great. It's got flat railroad-grade, rock gardens, mud holes, sandy descents and my nemesis-- a mile long climb. In typical single-speed fashion, I used the hill to catch and make time on the other teams. With no way to "gear-down", I settle into a cadence and grind that hill. But what goes up must come down and the descent is fast, rooty and super awesome.
Beginning at 10am on Saturday morning, the race goes till 10pm the same night. If you do the race as a relay team like we did, then you race your lap as fast as you can then tag the next guy so he/she can do the same. While your teammates race, you sit down, eat, drink and wait for your turn again.
Jim, 59 yrs old - still hammering through the woods. - Photo by Robbie Morford
My team consisted of my father-in-law Jim, his pals Dave and Jim A. and myself. We represented the oldest cumulative aged team, but we didn't race like it. My whole team fired around the course as fast as they could each turn and held really consistent lap times for the whole 12 hours. We did not win, or really even come close, but I'm happy to say that we didn't lose either.
Me, hurting and happy. -Photo (L) Jim Ferris, (R) Robbie Morford
And the "potluck" part? A good number of racers contribute to a table full of random dishes of food. So, post-race the place becomes a potluck party. My favorite dish: Nepali Chicken, wrapped in a flour tortilla. Holy-moley, that was good eatin'!
It was a great day of racing, and one of the highlights of my summer. I'm already thinking ahead to next year and trying to improve my fastest laps again.