Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Better Late than Never...

So I finished up the Burn 24 hour Race two weeks ago, but never posted a write-up. Admittedly, I’ve been distracted putting on a sweet 8 Hour race, the H8R. Unfortunately, it was last week, so all my time after the Burn immediately went towards that event. It went well, and I’ve managed to decompress a bit from it and get back into the swing of things…

So without further preamble, we’ll move onwards to the Burn 24 Hour goodness. I’ve sort of had mixed bags with the 24 hour races, but I keep coming back for a perfect one… Went with the Burn and Figured I’d try the SS to see if it might be the one.

I arrived in Wilkesboro on Friday night, and realized the field was soaking wet and full of big squishy puddles. While walking around I saw a giant pile of mangled pop up tents. Apparently, hours before I got there a giant storm came through and destroyed lots of people’s tents. Glad I missed that. I decided setting up my ragged out tent of dubious quality in the possibility of another big storm was a bit questionable so I took the great approach of sleeping at the Hotel L’Accord. Surprisingly it wasn’t so bad, and I slept great.

I hate hate HATE how 24 hour races start at 12 noon… I love waking up at 6 am and realizing I have 1 hour of prep and 5 hours to kill before the race… I hooked up with the Bike Factory Racing crew from Virginia, and they graciously agreed to help me out with some bottles and stuff for the day. I prepped the Superfly SS as my primary bike, and I had a borrowed SS as a backup, both set up with a 32x20. The burn starts with a stressful “designated runner” le mans start. Basically, this means that anyone on a team gets to have someone on their team wear running shoes, warm up, and then sprint the ¼ mile run. So for a solo rider, this means either sprinting the run, or walking the first half lap behind the entire field of riders. I went for the former and was the 2nd solo or so to the bike.

First lap started well after I cleared the traffic, and I settled into a medium pace. Since I admittedly did not train enough for this race, I wanted to do a steady pace, and start off easy to make sure I could ride the whole thing. One solo SSer passed me on the first lap, and I didn’t bother chasing. This worked well for the first 10 laps or so. During this time, I had one or two SS guys go by, and I faded a minute or two on the 11th lap. My 12th lap ended up being death.

I had been racing in 80+ degree temperatures for 9 hours without sweating, and was somehow pouring sweat everytime I climbed a roller. Riding the SS felt like someone had switched my cog to a 16t. I felt like every roller was excruciating, and when the rear tire slipped on a root, I didn’t have the power to keep it going, and had to dab many times. I found myself riding off the trail into the brush a time or too as well. I finally rolled into the pit area demoralized after dropping 20 minutes

I was crushed… I had been at this point before in 24 hour races, but usually after 15 or 17 hours… not 9. I couldn’t push the gear I brought, and had nothing else. I sat in the chair of defeat for an hour and pretty much convinced myself to pack my stuff and head home. I decided to take a look at the results and see where I was. Well, it turned out that I was passed by SSers who weren’t solo, and that I had been and second place and lapped 3rd, even with the lap of death. The SS guys that passed me weren’t solo riders…

I decided that I might as well give it one more go and see what happened on the next lap. I got ready, and rolled out 90 minutes after I stopped… I was now in 4th place, with a short jump back to 3rd, and nearly 45 minutes behind 2nd. Back on the bike, and everything just clicked… I was on, and caught 3rd place back in the first half lap. 3 laps later, and I had brought back the big gap to 2nd and rode on by. After getting back into 2nd, I backed off a bit on the pace and cruised for a lap. My rest was not long lived, as 3rd went by me as I grabbed food in my pit, and the chase was back on, I passed him, and then on a slick log, I missed getting over it, and he was right there and missed it too. We looked at each other, and he bolted… I caught him and continued a high pace, did a quick pit, and then a full XC pace lap.

Apparently his legs didn’t like that and I was able to take out a healthy chunk of time. I went back into cruising mode and started counting down the laps. I was fine, but a numb finger since 3 laps back and knee pain had me dreading each additional lap as adding a day of recovery time, for such little game… Luckily, third had the same idea, and he didn’t force me to ride the 3 extra laps I had time for, and I was able to stop at 10:30am after 171 miles in 20.5 hours of ride time, and 1.5 hours of self-pity.

This unfortunately meant over 3 hours of sitting in the sun before I could drive home… I packed my stuff and hung out for the awards and food, then headed home, and finally got to bed and slept 13 hours after being awake for over 40 hours… definitely a long weekend…

Overall, I can’t be anything but happy with the way it turned out… It still wasn’t that perfect race, but I was satisfied to be at the point of quitting, and come back from it and ride strong… Hell, I was doing full XC laps after 19 hours, I wouldn’t have thought that, especially on the SS… Maybe the perfect one is still out there… or maybe, there’s no such thing.

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