February 17th, 2018
Race season is about here! This weekend I traveled down to Santos, FL to participate in the 12 Hours of Santos. This event was put on by the fine folks of Gone Riding.
Last year was my first year racing in this race. It was a blast. Last year, a buddy from FL hooked me up with 3 other FL local guys to team up with. This year we decided to keep the same team to race again. I arrived in town the Thursday before the race. After searching around, I found a Sprint car race taking place in a town really close to the trailhead we’d be racing at. Thursday night I enjoyed the dirt track life and camped at the track for the night.
Friday morning the trailhead opened up to campers and racers for the weekend. The team and I planned to meet and ride Friday morning. The Santos trails are a blast! I always thought FL riding had no elevation, but it does! The course flowed around ‘The Vortex’; a bowl in the mid-forest where trails navigated in and out of, giving them some tricky technical sections and plenty of short punchy up-down features. We got our preride in, and then off to rest for the long day ahead.
The 12 Hours of Santos race offered several classes to participate in. Solo 3, 6, or 12 hours, or even 12-hour team races. We raced the 4-man 12-hour team class. The premise is to race as many laps as possible in the 12 hour racing window; from 10am – 10pm. Normally, teams have each rider charge for 1 lap then hand off the baton to the next rider. The team members continue to ride-rest-ride until no more laps can be completed before the 10pm cutoff.
The largest decision for us was what order we’d race in. The team member who started the race did a Le Mans style start; running to their bike up a steep hill; among hundreds of other racers. Our team order was Josh, Pete, me, then Sean.
The race was off and I was set to be on the trail around 1130. Laps were shorter this year, between 30-40 minutes. With such a variety of riders at different speeds, the trail can get congested at times. I took to the dirt my first lap seeing several others on the 7 mile course. The start of the route sent us directly into the ‘Vortex’ section of the trail. This took advantage of the more technical terrain before we shot out into the second half of the trail. This trail was deemed ‘Twister’ and lived up to its name with countless left-then-right turns through the flat forest section. The final miles of the lap took riders straight through the campground, offering the spectators close-up views of the race. The most spectacular (as was last year, as well) feature was the home-made fire jump. It evolved since last year, but this time it included a metal jump concocted with propane fueled flames.
Each member of our team completed 4 laps during the 12-hour race. Between laps we traded riding stories, visited with neighbors, and fueled up for the next lap. This is a great all-day event to hang out between rides, visit fellow friends and riders, and cheer on the racers. I’m glad I have such a fun group of Florida riding buddies to hang with on long weekends.
Once Sunday morning rolled around, I explored Santos for a third day. With the 85 miles of trail to choose from, you could spend an entire day out here and not get bored. I’m already looking forward to the 2019 12 Hours of Santos!!
Read even more and check out over 1000 pics on BikeMinded’s blog at https://blog.bikeminded.com/2018-fle-4-santos