12 Hours of Bradbury Mountain 2022
by Kevin Ryan • October 19, 2022
If I’m doing the math correctly, 2022 was my tenth time competing in the annual 12 Hours of Bradbury Mountain race. It has become an institution for me and as it is pretty much in my backyard, not participating in the race is unthinkable. The race is always held in late September, when trail conditions in Bradbury are typically at their best (read – dry). The trails can be quite fast when dry, but race conditions can get dicey when Bradbury is wet. Those who frequent the park know that the trails are replete with roots that when wet become quite slippery. This year was a good one, and trail and weather conditions were nothing short of perfect. I was also happy to learn that the race was to be run in the opposite direction than it has been the past several years.
For 2022, I again raced as part of a 3-person men’s team with former racing partner (of several BB12 races) Channing Jones and Team Bikeman Racer Brendan Joyce. A bonus for this year is my parents came from NY to visit for the weekend, and hence got to check out our local race scene. My seven-year-old daughter, Lily was also in attendance.
I brought two bikes with me this year – my 2021 Kona Hei Hei “downcountry” bike and newly purchased, barely used, 2022 Trek Fuel EX as a backup. Also, if the race went like last year and we had a solid lead, I planned to take the EX out for a lap or two just for fun and to compare my lap times with the more race-oriented Hei Hei.
This time around, Channing did the first lap, Brendan went second, and I went third. Over the twelve hours we ended up completing five laps each. The rundown of each lap follows:
Lap 1 – I passed several racers and ended up chatting while jockeying positions with a former enduro racer from Bangor. He eventually pulled away toward the end of the lap. The few people I passed during the lap put our team in second place. I was in better shape this year than last, and so came in 10+ minutes faster than my first lap in 2021. Luckily Channing was waiting at the transition zone for me even though he admitted that he did not expect me in so soon.
Lap 2 – I passed about 15 people, but somehow managed to pop my rear tire in a rock section not far from the end of the lap. I managed to ride very carefully over the finish line, losing minimal time. Bikeman ally Neal Larrabee, who we were sharing a campsite with, did the exact same thing. As our lead was only a few minutes ahead of the third-place team, rather than just ride my other (heavier) bike, I swapped out the rear wheel and put it on the Hei Hei.
Lap 3 – Smooth sailing! No mechanicals or crashes and passed a handful of other racers.
Lap 4 – It seems there’s always a low point in the 12-hour race and just before this lap was it. I was able to push through and come back to life during the lap. Another racer on a 3-man place team passed me, but he mentioned that his teammates were cooked, putting me at ease that we were not losing our position.
Lap 5 – I ended up with the night lap this year. I lucked out and early in the lap ended up riding up on a racer going at what was then the perfect pace. I stayed on her wheel for the remainder of the lap and had one minor crash when my handlebar clipped a tree. My knee bled a bit but luckily my bike remained unscathed.
At the end of the day, we held onto our second-place position, coming in four minutes behind the first place team and almost 13 minutes ahead of the third place team. Another solid race on the books!