The 12 Hours (…and 1 minute) of Disco: Race Report

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Race Report submitted by Chad Dexter.

Salmon, Idaho turned Funky Town over the weekend by hosting its inaugural 12 Hours of Disco mountain bike race in its BLM Discovery Hills District. Located just a few minutes outside of town, Discovery Hills rests at the base of the Beaverhead Mountains and provides plenty of early season dry trail opportunities. With a drive of only 4 ½ hours from Helena, Chris & I loaded up the bikes, dusted off our Team BSC jerseys, grabbed our Saturday Night Fever cd and headed over to Idaho race in the mixed duo category. With a disco themed soundtrack, here’s a lap-by-lap report on our 12* times around the course on Saturday…

Turn the beat around, Love to hear percussion
-Vicki Sue Robinson, ’76

At 7:00 am sharp, 20 teams and 17 soloists “hustled” off into the hills with the thunder of multiple, and repeated, shotgun blasts. Clearly, Idaho loves its guns just as much as Montana does. I took the 1st lap (0:43:25) honors, which was the busiest given the initial congestion of racers. It was also the messiest as the local cows in the area had deposited a number of fresh pies for us on the singletrack the night before.

Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’, And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
-Bee Gees, ’77

While I cleaned the cow mess off my bike back at basecamp, Chris did a “back to back” effort for our 2nd (1:10:40) & 3rd (1:17:53) laps. The 8-mile course has some great, tight singletrack on it that constantly requires your full attention. Look down to grab a bottle, or look up to check out the snowcap’d mountains in the distance, & you’ll quickly find yourself riding through the sagebrush reaching out on both sides of the track. Rollin’ into the station, Chris’ arm warmers were down at the wrists as the morning chill was giving way to the afternoon warmth.

Ain’t no stoppin’ us now, We’re on the move!
-McFadden & Whitehead, ’79

Chris’ double effort inspired me to get through our 4th (0:42:24) & 5th (0:43:50) laps as she took some time to recover. Now familiar with the terrain, and having a bit more open space between racers this time, I tried to hit these two laps hard. The last 3 miles of the route is a crazy fast experience that, if ridden with confidence, can be ripped through without touching the brakes. I pushed my ride down this stretch with as much gusto as my wits would allow…topping out @ 30.4 mph through this stretch.

You think I’d lay down and die Oh no, not I I will survive!
-Gloria Gaynor, ’78

Chris jumped on our 6th lap (1:18:32) as soon as I rolled into the station. Throughout the day, our transitions were done very quickly & efficiently. One of our objectives was that there was always gonna be a Dexter out on the course today. The Discovery Hills looks like snake country for sure. As a result, every stick or round rock the first few times around initially jolts the rider into thinking that there’s a reptile about to start slithering (…or worse). After a few times around the track, when it’s clear that these things aren’t moving, you relax a bit and just focus on the riding. Another great thing about a lapped enduro is that you get repeated chances to clear a technically tough section, hit a difficult corner just right and get those gearing ratios just right throughout. While lap times will typically go up as the day progresses & stamina becomes taxed, the improved efficiencies in the other areas of riding performance can mitigate this a bit. In other words, keep riding…you may be getting slower, but you’re riding better than ever!

Oh, that’s the way, uh-huh,uh-huh, I like it, uh-huh,uh-huh. That’s the way uh-huh, uh-huh I like it uh-huh. (repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat,.…)
-K.C. and the Sunshine Band, ’75

With the clock showing about 1:00 o’clock in the pm, Chris stepped aside & let me get my “big block” effort in for the day. My primary training objective in signing up for the 12 Hours of Disco was to try & ride for five straight hours. In doing so, I wanted to test my new bike out (Gary Fisher’s Super Fly Elite 29er), try some different fueling product (Hammer’s Perpeteum), and see how my actual enduro training fitness was coming along so far this season (…’cause I’m not getting any younger). Lap 7 (0:47:19) was a breeze. Lap 8 (0:48:40) hurt a little. Lap 9 (0:55:01) hurt a lot! Lap 10 (0:54:11) felt better. Lap 11 (0:56:05) was good enough to convince me to go another. Lap 12 was a mistake…

Tragedy! When the feelings gone And you can’t go on It’s tragedy…
-Bee Gees, ’79

Music historians claim that disco officially died at Chicago’s Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979. Between a twi-night baseball doubleheader between the White Sox & Tigers a crate filled with disco records was blown up in centerfield. Rowdy fans surged onto the field in an anti-disco celebration. The game was quickly forfeited by the Sox, and the night came to an end with a scorched centerfield & a near riot. My night of disco in Salmon came to an equally destructive & abrupt end as well. With five laps in on my five hour block of racing, I rode through the station without stopping & signaled to Chris that I had “one more lap” in me. The time was 5:17 pm. I was averaging ~45 minute laps I figured, so the BSC team would easily lock down a respectable dozen times around the course for the day. About a 1/3 of the way through the loop, on the ride’s steepest section, a fist-sized rock (somehow) managed to jump into my rear wheel. It is truly an awful, pit in the stomach feeling to look down & see the bottom of your bike’s rear derailleur staring up at you. This means it’s broken. It’s also means that, no matter how sick & tired you may have been sitting on that bike, you’d do about anything to be able to climb back on the thing and keep pedalin’. With about 5 miles left to the finish line, the last 3 being mainly downhill, I opted to start hoofing the bike & me out by foot as quickly as possible. Now, I know Ironman tri-athletes have no problem riding a bike all day & then going for a run. Well, I do have a problem with it…especially when it comes to running in stiff-soled bike shoes through sagebrush! Run, walk, run, curse, climb, roll downhill, run, climb, walk, curse, etc., etc.. Pushing my bike to the top of the last hill, I could see the finish below. I was definitely the last one on the course. Rolling down I was pretty confident that I’d get in there before the 7:00 o’clock cutoff. The race officials were still at the finish, so that’s a good sign. Right? Nope. 7:01 pm. Race closed. One minute too late. Seriously. Ugh! The last time around the course (a gruelin’ 1:44:00), cost me a rear derailleur & netted us a total of 0 laps. Team BSC’s official result was 11 laps completed, but I think this number deserves an asterisk. Finished for the day, I grabbed the last remaining burger left in the hospitality tent. After that, we quickly loaded up the rig and headed back to the motel. An hour long shower & then straight to bed…with periodic full-on leg cramps jarring me awake throughout the night. Ah, had I seized the day or was it seizing me!?!?

Don’t let the bad ending of my race day sway you from taking in the next 12 Hours of Disco. The pasta feed that the Elks Club put on Friday night for racers was excellent. Organizers are incredibly, well, organized. The course is super, super fun and can be enjoyed by mountain bikers of all skill levels & talent. Best of all, race proceeds from this weekend’s event went to Salmon’s Youth Employment Program, Inc. This is a non-profit program which aims to foster an atmosphere of educational development, and provides employment opportunities for young adults in the community. The outstanding trail work and race course preparation was a joint effort of YEP and the Salmon Idaho Mountain Bike Association. Kudos to both groups!

If you do decide to boogie down to Salmon next year to take in the 12 Hours of Disco, my only suggestion would be maybe think about packing along a spare rear derailleur in your saddle bag. If not for you, there’s always the chance you’ll happen upon a helpless rider out there in need of one on the trail…?