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12 Hours of Santos

Ocala, FL
Saturday February 21, 2015
by: Amy Horstmeyer

First off, Santos is one of my favorite places to ride and it’s only about an hour drive from my house. This race is one that I look forward to every year. I raced the 6 hour solo category for the first time last year and took the win, so I had my mind set on doing the same this year. The first race of the season is always a bit nervous because you finally get to test if all the work you’ve been putting in is paying off or not. Needless to say, I was putting a bit of pressure on myself. About a week before the race I developed some kind of chest cough that was keeping me from putting in the work I wanted to leading up to the race. So, I hoped my legs would be “well rested” instead of sluggish and unresponsive. On to the race… Friday, after a day of teacher life, Pauline and I drove down to Santos for some pre riding. We know the Vortex pretty well, but we wanted to scope out the specifics of the race loop layout and open up the legs a bit. After two laps and a couple little crashes here and there, we were feeling good about the race. The temp was going to drop to the 30s that night so instead of the usual pre race camping, I opted for a drive home to a big meal and warm bed. Race day!! The start of a race like this a super important. It’s a le mans style start, so you get to run as a crazy herd up a hill to find your bike. If there is one thing I learned from racing NCC races, it’s get to the start line and wait way earlier than you think you should. I did this and got a great starting position. I had a solid run and held decent position during the parade lap and into the woods. After about half a lap of fighting for position with dudes that either don’t want to ride behind a girl or be passed by a girl things finally buff out and you can settle into your pace. I was pretty sure I was leading my race at this point and it was shortly confirmed. All I had to do at this point was hold my position for 6 hours… My coach, trainer, mechanic, and special man friend, Ben, was updating me every lap about the gaps to my competition. I knew I had a substantial lead after a couple laps, so I didn’t need to take any risks and could just keep it smooth. At the finish I had about 10 minutes on second place. I really couldn’t have asked for a better race. No crashes, no mechanicals, and awesome weather. I was free to just grind out a hard pace that I knew I could hold. One thing that a lot of people don’t realize about racing mountain bikes in Florida is that there is hardly anytime to recover. You are constantly power climbing, maneuvering technical sections, or grinding out on the flats. This makes eating and drinking difficult. I tend to not eat or drink much during racing, but with this one being so long I knew I needed to make myself to avoid bonking. I picked a section when I saw a house in the distance to cue myself to eat each lap. I ending up eating 5 GUs and 1 Larabar. I also drank 6 bottles of Gatorade and 1 final special Monster bottle. Gone Riding puts on top noch events and this one was no different. There were tons of racers and spectators to keep things interesting during my 6 hours of racing. There were relay team categories racing too. It’s always a bonus to be able to jump on someone’s wheel who is out doing a single hot lap. This, along with trying to chase riders down, and all the awesome cheering spectators really kept me going. Stats: 1st place 6 hour solo open women category out of 17 20th place out of 115 total racers in the 6 hour category 58 miles, average heart rate 173, max heart rate 197