Archive for February, 2011

The 12 Hours of Santos: Unpopular People Go Solo

Monday, February 21st, 2011

by Sean Hess (

Rider 443 Passes the Red Bull of Reward at 12 Hours of Santos

Rider 443 powers a 69er by the Red Bull of Reward at 12 Hours of Santos 2011

This past weekend it was the annual 12 Hours of Santos mountain bike race at the Santos Vortex trails near Ocala, Florida. Racing for Strackacobra/St. Augustine Team Realty, I competed in the 6-hour solo division. Each lap was a little over 9 miles.

There are only three reasons you compete in the solo division of an ultra race:

1. You are unpopular.
2. You are lazy taking lap turns.
3. You are unpopular and lazy taking lap turns.

I happen to fall into category “3.”

I am doubly unpopular because I own my own sponsored team and still have to ride solo.

There are even people who actually compete in the 12 hour solo category. There is only one reason you compete as a solo 12-hour rider.

1. You are dumb. (Sorry, Greg, from Bicycles etc.)

So, it’s late, and I’m somewhere in my 6th lap in a race where every muscle in each leg is in some state of cramping. I am in a hateful mood.

As I pass by a feed station I overhear some team rider on a cell phone thanking his girlfriend “for all of your encouragement.” He went on to say, “You know, I’ve done two laps today already!”

Well congratu-fucking-lations, Lance Armstrong, if you manage another lap by the cutoff we may just give you a medal.

But as he looked showered and shaved, and was wearing a clean yellow t-shirt, my guess is Lance was done for the day and had already claimed the yellow jersey.

You could always tell the team riders out on the course. They were the ones with clean legs. They were also the only ones passing. At least by hour five I started seeing some traces of dust on their bikes.

The funniest wreck I saw all day was my own.

I was exiting the Vortex over the big rock (called Challenger Gate) on my last lap. As I executed a perfect roll over the rock both my legs locked solid, straight out, with cramps. I rolled a few feet and fell over. Somehow I scuttled off the trail and gradually got enough feeling (feeling besides the shooting pain) in them to work out of my clips and get back on the bike.

As I was getting back on some team rider in a completely clean kit rolled by and shouted a lusty, “Welcome to Hell my friend!”

“No,” I answered back, “Hell would be the 12 Hours of Razorback.”

12 Hours of Santos replaced the 12 Hours of Razorback, and thus, this is the only time I’ve ever been thankful Razorback was gone. No Clay Climb, no Tire Kingdom, No Triple Dipper…

The first time I raced at Razorback I saw a rider puking at mile four of lap one. It was a devlish course to race on. The old trail is littlered with the graves of ultra racers.

But getting back to Santos. The idea was that after I finished riding I would head over to some of the crazy technical features of the Vortex and take some film. Then I would cut the movie and put it here. The trouble was I couldn’t walk after racing, so my grandiose plans of a feature film went out the window.

Instead I sat down and had a post-race Red Bull of Reward and a Hostess Cherry Pie. You can see the movie that I did shoot below, I call it the “12 Seconds of Santos.”

(To see a really quality video of the race and what it’s like to tear through the Vortex watch this video from MTBMike)