The fourth edition of the Brazil Ride mountain bike stage race wrapped up a week ago Saturday with stage 7. In the men’s race, the lead had changed three times during the week, but on the final day, Henrique Avancini and Sherman de Paiva (Caloi Racing Team) claimed the overall title. Rebecca Rusch and Selene Yeager (Specialized Racing) won the women’s overall.
By Melissa Liebling
As dusk rolled over the hills of New Mexico, it was time to mount my bike light and prepare for a long, lonely night on the trail. It was my first solo single speed 24-hour race. I had one Light & Motion Seca 1400 that I borrowed from a friend, and no crew. I knew I could take care of myself, but it would require extra time at my pit. I believe it was only the second or third year for 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest and I was racing for the experience as I knew I wanted to become one of the best solo 24-hour racers around! I decided to use the time it would take to mount my light as a necessary break to rest, stretch, and eat a decent snack before tackling the night. I ran my light on low as the course was not especially technical and the single battery lasted through the entire evening! I was impressed! At dawn, I finally had to rest for a significant amount of time, but I had done enough to secure the win!
I took on 24 Hours of Fury as my second solo 24-hour race and arrived to the event both physically and mentally prepared to put in a much harder effort. This time, I had an amazing crew, miles and miles of training, a nutrition plan, and two Seca 1400s which again I borrowed from a friend. The first 7 laps were smooth and consistent. I set myself up with a lead going into the night and felt very comfortable on the trail. I varied the level of light I used throughout the night, depending on the terrain, and loved having both handlebar and helmet mounted lights! My crew changed my batteries every two laps to ensure that I never ran out of light. It was a much better system with the ability to have two lights and multiple batteries and I knew these were the lights I wanted to race with as my career progressed. As dawn arrived, I put in two hard laps to finish the race with a 1st place female solo single speed title and placed fourth among the men. The result was definitely worth the pain!
I had less than a week to recover before I headed to Culiacan, Mexico for a night 12-hour race. My flight left on Thursday and although I was mentally motivated, I was concerned that I would not have enough energy to race hard for 12 hours in the dark. I was told there were several strong females registered for the race and it would be a tough night!
My crew arrived at 7:30 pm to pick me up and we headed to the venue. Everything was set up and I briefed them on what I would need throughout the night. Communication was difficult because I do not speak Spanish, but I was assured that they were ready to support me. I had plenty of Bonk Breaker Energy Bars on hand and would be running the same two Seca 1400s as the previous weekend. This time, I’d be running them almost the entire race! We decided to change out the batteries every three laps because I would be riding a bit faster and I was able to run the lights on low for almost half of each lap.
It was a Le Mans start so I took off as fast as I could knowing that I wanted to get ahead of the other females right away. There were fireworks and lots of cheering spectators. It was awesome! I was pedaling hard and racing to win! After about 6 laps, I was only ahead by 10 minutes. These girls were tough and continued to chase me the entire race! Finally during lap 9, the sun started to rise. My lights worked great the entire night, but I was thankful for morning. I was tired and pedaling slower, but I dug deep and finished the remaining two laps for the win! There was much celebration when I entered the transition tent for the last time and I was overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness. The race organization, my friends and crew, my competitors, and the spectators were unbelievable! At this point in my career, 12 Horas en La PrimaVera was the toughest race I ever won!
Following these three races and the success I had riding with Light & Motion bike lights, I knew that they were the ones for me! They performed without a hitch and I will need that type of reliability and quality to advance my mountain biking career. In addition to those characteristics, their extensive run time and ability to light up the entire trail and its surroundings are critical when racing through the night. The lights are lightweight and super easy to mount in a hurry. Not only were the Secas ideal, but in my experience, the selection of performance and commuter lights that the company offers is superior to any other products I have used.
Light & Motion’s company ethics and environmental concern provide many reasons for me to represent, support, and promote them. Designed and built in Monterey, California, the dependability of the products cannot be matched. They are built there because they can do it better than anyone offshore and can be proud of what they’ve accomplished. These are the small details that make all the difference! Thank you L & M for getting my endurance racing off to a great start!
Melissa Liebling is passionate about racing in the 24-Hour Solo events – watch for her at the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo this next February! Registration opens on October 15th!
By Brian Rusiecki
The Cascade Crest 100 is an ultra in Washington State in the Cascade Mountains, held at the end of August. The 10:00 AM start and the 21, 500ft of elevation gain means that every runner is going to have his and her share of nighttime running. The aptly named “trail from hell” and Thorpe mountain sections of the course are technical sections of the course and primarily run at night.
The Solite 250EX gave me the confidence to run as fast as I could over the technical mountain terrain. I used the light in the 80 lumen setting for the fire roads, bumped up to 125 lumens for most trails and used the 250 lumen setting sparingly only for the most technical down hills of the course. I had 9 hours of night-time running and had battery capacity to spare at the finish!
For more information on this epic run check out the site: http://www.cascadecrest100.com/index.php
Ta-dah! The Light & Motion 5-person coed team captured the win today at the 24hours in the Sage!
The team fell behind in the race early losing almost an hour to equipment failure and spills – see the battle wounds – ouch!! The team rallied and laid down some heroic laps during the night (aided by the New Seca 2000!) and early morning to gain the lead and land the win!
Congrats to Evelyn Dong, Will McDonald, Nate Miller, Zeke Hersh, Nate Bird, and Dax Massey a.k.a. “Thrasher” who ran support for the team! Thanks to KOA Dave and all the volunteers for putting on the 24 Hours in the Sage known among the locals as one of the best parties at a bike race! See you there next year!
Photographs by Devon Balet who was at Sage on assignment for Light & Motion.
Team Light & Motion rides again at the 24 hours of Sage, in Gunnison, CO this weekend. The 24 hours in the Sage is one of the favorite endurance races of the season due to the old-fashioned hospitality accorded the racers by the promoter and event organizer, Dave Taylor a.k.a. “KOA Dave”. The race epitomizes what 24-Hour MTB racing is all about: community, good times, and a spirit of camaraderie among all the competitors. Over 50 teams are expected to kick up the dust in Gunnison for a weekend of good racing and tasty fixings and food provided by KOA Dave!
Light & Motion’s five-person coed team, is a 3 x winner of the 24hrs. in the Old Pueblo and runner up in this year’s 24hr. Nationals. The team’s riders will be Zeke Hersh, Evelyn Dong, Nate Miller, Nate Bird, and Will McDonald. Team Captain Dax Massey will be holding forth at the Light & Motion Demo Van and supporting the Team’s run at the win at 24 Hours in the Sage.
The race begins at noon on Saturday and riders can expect a riding start since KOA Dave doesn’t like to run. An hour before sunset all racers are required to have lights. Night laps won’t be an issue with Team Light & Motion. With blazing Seca 2000s which are brighter than a car’s headlight, the team’s riders will turn the dark Gunnison wilderness into day! McDonald, a newcomer to the team, quipped “I’m Looking forward to racing with some ridiculously bright lights!”
For other riders looking to increase their fire power during the night, the Light & Motion Demo Van will be on site stocked with Seca 1700s, 1400s, and Stella 300s. Battery charging will also be supported throughout the event!
Contact Ryan White to rent lights: email@example.com
Check out the results on Sunday: www.24hoursinthesage.com
By Meredith Miller
For cycling enthusiasts, there’s one golden rule during the month of July – don’t look at social media unless you’re prepared to read about the Tour. The Tour de France, that is. It’s a 21 day race that touches almost every corner of France and then some. It’s the biggest and most prestigious race of the year. It’s the race that can change a rider’s career and life by winning a single stage.
The riders have put on a great ‘show’ this year. Barring catastrophe, the yellow jersey seems to be safely positioned on the back of Brit Chris Froome all the way to Paris. But, the fight for the remaining two podium steps is intense. It’s anyone’s guess who will round out the podium in Paris.
By the time the Tour reaches Paris, the riders will have accumulated 85 hours and 2004 miles on the bike. Unlike any other sport, the cyclists “play” for 5 to 7 hours each day for three consecutive weeks with just two rest days along the way. 2004 miles. 85 hours. 21 days. 2 rest days. 1 Grand Tour.
Each team starts with nine riders. Each one of those riders has been chosen for a specific reason depending on his strengths. A rider may be selected because he’s an opportunist, he can win the sprinter’s jersey, he can contribute to a strong team time trial or, even better yet, win all the glory — the maillot jaune (The yellow jersey worn by the leader of the Tour). Each team will have different goals at the Tour and each team will build its roster accordingly, but one thing that is necessary on every team is the support rider, or domestique. Some domestiques are part of the lead out train for the sprinter, while others are the caretakers of the climbers in the high mountains. Regardless of the stage profile, a victory is hardly possible without the help of a team’s domestiques.
Whether it’s for one day or for 21 days, a domestique’s role is tireless, selfless and most often goes unrecognized. Domestiques finish 10, 15, 20 minutes behind the leaders in the mountains. Domestiques cross the finish line after the winner has already showered and is giving interviews. Domestiques lead out their sprinter in the closing kilometers and then sit up to watch the last 250 meters as their guy crosses the line with his hands in the air. Thanks to the relentless, committed work of a domestique, it’s the winner’s name that goes down in the history books.
Women’s cycling isn’t any different in this regard. Just as the men’s teams pick specific rosters for the Tour de France, so do women’s teams pick their rosters for each individual race. Whether a criterium or stage race, the roster will include the team leader(s) and the best suited domestiques for that race.
For the last ten years, I have played the role of domestique. While my resume isn’t full of personal victories, it is chock-full of team victories, or victories in which a teammate won and I played a major role. Stage races or one-day races, you name it, I have been the rider going back for bottles so my team leader doesn’t have to expend the extra energy herself. I have been the rider on the front chasing back a break so my team leader doesn’t have to worry about losing time. I have been the rider pedaling into the wind so my teammate can sit on my wheel and conserve as much energy as possible. I have been the rider selected as first in the lead-out train for my sprinter, assigned the task of going as hard as I can to deliver my sprinter to the line first. I have been the rider, because of this, that often crosses the finish line last or doesn’t even finish at all. I have been the rider to usher my teammate into the hills and bare the heaviest workload so that my teammate can pedal away when the time is right, leaving me to pedal squares to the finish hoping that I make the time cut.
That is, by definition, a domestique — gives 100% for a teammate and repeatedly sacrifices personal glory to achieve a win for the team.
I have many memorable stories of playing the role of domestique, but a couple in particular stick out in my mind. At the 2009 US National Criterium Championships my team (Team TIBCO) was 100% focused on racing for our sprinter extraordinaire, Brooke Miller. She had been on fire all season long, winning race after race. My teammates and I were throwing out attacks and counter attacks all race long to whittle down the field, weaken the other sprinters. In fact, I was off the front solo when they called the mid-race $500 prime and easily gobbled up the money. The field eventually brought me back and as the laps ticked down. No one or nothing was getting away. Clearly, the race was going to come down to a field sprint. With several laps to go, my teammates and I started to amass near the front of the peloton so that we could take over the lead out with a lap to go. Colavita was also there fighting us for the front to put their mutli-national criterium champion, Tina Pic, in perfect position. My teammates and I muscled our way to the front where we lined ourselves up perfectly, one after another, with Brooke sitting behind us calling out instructions to go faster, faster, faster. It was a picture of flawless team unity.
I was chosen as one of the first riders in the line up because of my ability to get the pace blazing fast so that no other team could come around us. I put my head down, gritted my teeth and basically sprinted for 500-600 meters before my next teammate took over. Just past where I pulled off the lead out train was where the figure eight came together, and it happened to be a perfect place to watch the finish. Not concerned in the least about my own finish, I rolled over to my viewing spot and watched as the riders came around the last corner for the gallop to the finish line. I was jumping around and screaming at Brooke to “go, go, go”. I had goose bumps. Unfortunately, Brooke did not win, she was second, but regardless of the result we, the domestiques, had that lead out dialed and that was a great feeling.
A funny part to the story is that in order to collect the mid-race prime I had won, rules stated I had to finish the race. It was a rule of which I was somehow unaware. Fortunately, another teammate knew that I had to cross the finish line to collect our $500. My mechanic had already taken my bike away so I hopped on a teammate’s bike, which was too small, and pedaled around to the finish line so that the team could collect the $500.
Cycling is a team sport. Yes, only one person wins a race, but an individual win is a win for the team. And it is the hard-working, unselfish domestique who repeatedly lays it on the line for the team. Being the domestique may not be glamorous, but the satisfaction I get from helping a teammate win is worth more to me than anything I could achieve alone — especially when I know my teammate couldn’t have won without my help.
Domestiques may not be the ones to steal the show but they are the ones who create the show. Maillot jaune Chris Froome wouldn’t be dominating the race without the unconditional help of his teammates. In particular, this year we’ve watched Richie Porte tear the peloton to pieces as he sets such a blistering pace on the front of the peloton that no one can follow on the climbs but his leader Froome. Although Porte has displayed phenomenal talent himself, his sole job is to set the stage for Froome.
Meredith Miller rides for the women’s pro cycling team TIBCO
For this year’s Transylvania Epic the training was in the legs, the bike running great and many other pieces were fitting perfectly. Travel and routine if anything was something that I was unprepared for, and these, although I couldn’t put my finger on what went wrong, could have been the factors that hurt me most.
The early stages went great with the legs and body feeling great and I had been racing smart. Then in the middle of Tuesday night I woke to a sore throat. My heart sunk of course, as I could tell this was no dry throat, but an actual cold approaching. Immediately I knew that the next day was my last day to race, at close to 100%.
The racecourse at Raystown, PA was so damn unreal and fast and I put my game plan to work and hung on a wheel for most of the first lap and a half. Then on a steep climb, I sensed a little weakness and made and attack. This gained me about 2 minutes on second place and got me on the top step of the podium for my last time of the week.
The next couple days I suffered more on my bike than I can remember ever doing. The cold had hit the lungs and head and I just plain did not feel well. I knew the overall was out of the question, but I wanted to hang onto third place in the GC if I could.
Suffering and all I was able to finish the race and hang onto third! Not exactly the result I had wanted, but it was a podium at a 7-day stage race.
In all the suffering, I still found the trails in State College amazing! The Transylvania Epic was epic to say the least and toward the end of the week, my PA rock riding skills had come full circle after being scared shitless on the second day of racing.
Even though there are a few pieces in the puzzle to get right, I had an unbelievable time racing at the Transylvania Epic!
You can follow Zeke Hersh’s “Dirt Riding and Racing” here: http://ezekielhersh.blogspot.com/