Damn, that was an awesome race.
As most of you know (if you’re reading this), I had my doubts going into this race. I wasn’t sure if I was ready, mentally or physically. While driving out there, I did a little bit of thinking and told myself that I know how these things play out. I’ve been here before, I know how these races go, at least on a general level. The fastest guys out there aren’t always at the advantage. The stubborn insomniacs, however, have an upper hand of sorts.
And I am certainly one of those.
So, I went out there with one goal in mind: Don’t sleep, and stay on the bike as much of the time as you can.
There aren’t many 24 hour races that I can claim that I pulled off the ‘no sleep’ move, maybe 3 out of the (now) 8 solo attempts that I’ve undertaken.
But this was one of them.
Before I dive into many more details, I first want to send out an enthusiastic Thank You to the crew that put this race together. They did a great job, and put together one of the funnest, fastest 24 hour courses I’ve ever been on. The race course was 16.8 miles of flowy, fun, beautiful singletrack. I swear there was less than 1/4 mile of road on the whole course.
They did a great job with the rest of the details as well, and I really hope they do it again next year. It’s definitely one to add to the list.
Anywho, if you’re looking for the long and short of it, here’s the short: 11 laps, 184.8 miles, 2nd place solo singlespeed. 9 total solo singlespeeders, and my race number was 7.
And here’s the long…..
Before I jump into the race details, I should mention a bit of a last minute snafu that I had which had to be ‘creatively’ remedied. I am currently riding in a pair of Sidi Dragon’s which are a little over a year old at this point. The soles are pretty worn on them, so I put in an order from colorado cyclist earlier last week to get a new set of lugs for them.
When those lugs arrived on thursday, I discovered that I had ordered the wrong ones. (in my defense, I ordered the ones for the non-carbon-sole dragon, not the current carbon-sole ‘dragon 2′).
Either way, they were happy to exchange them, but seeing as I was leaving the next day for the race, the new ones were definitely not gonna make it in time. The problem was not so much the traction issue of not having good lugs on the shoes, but more of the outer lugs being so worn that all the force was being transmitted to the pedals on the inside arch/ball of my foot. Short rides – no biggie. Long rides – major foot pain.
So, I ventured down to the shop at work, found a couple scraps of plastic, fired up the bandsaw, a drill press, and a heat gun, and made quick work of my ‘issue’ with a little creative arts and crafts.
Voila! Instant lugs.
Zero traction, but perfect support on the pedals. Problem solved.
With that out of the way, I loaded up the car with all the necessary gear, Claire, and my sister (who’s now living out here for a little while). We rolled out early evening on friday, and hit the staging area right around 9:30 new mexico time.
The race start was fairly uneventful, with everyone spacing out nicely during the first 3 miles of road (which was subbed in for the first lap to help combat trail congestion). I believe the total numbers were right around 200 total participants on 100 different teams.
I cranked out the first few laps without too much issue, knowing full well that the ‘real race’ doesn’t start until around 1/2 way through. Goals at this point were to just keep riding and not blow up too much.
I made a nice transition to the night laps, and cranked out the first one before stopping for dinner. The night laps were just about perfect temperature. I think every single one of them I would start out with armwarmers, and then have them down around my wrists by the time the first 4 miles were done. Couldn’t ask for much more.
When I stopped for dinner the wind and sweat started to get to me, which meant I was shivering pretty badly after sitting for a few minutes. I bundled up as much as possible while I chowed some pasta, but I quickly realized anything short of a shower and a down jacket wasn’t gonna cure me of the shivers. So, I did the only other thing that I thought would warm me back up: got on the bike again.
Funny how logical something like that sounds when you’ve got 100 miles under your belt already……
My sister said to me when she took this picture “You look like hell, smile at least” I did my best…
The next several hours were a steady routine of come in, eat food, change clothes, change batteries, start shivering, start riding.
Just how it should be.
The sun popped up during my 10th lap, and I came rolling in to see how far everyone was behind me. I knew that Fran Bach from Bach Builders was pretty solidly ahead of me in 1st, but Judd and I had been doing some trading back and forth through the beginning of the night laps. Lo and behold, he wasn’t that far behind, so I took a bit of a breather, got some breakfast in me and headed out for number 10. Number 10, where I got a flat, and took just about forever making it around. Total time on that one (including the break before the lap) was 2:33, and I imagine I was well over 2 hours of actual riding time. SLOOOOOOOW. (most of my other laps were between 1:35-1:50 actual riding time).
He didn’t quite catch me, but I figured number 11 was gonna have to be pretty decent to make up for that one.
So, fueled by a bagel, a banana, and a starbucks doubleshot (my favorite source of caffeine in these things, redbull tears my insides up), I went out to do some damage.
Total time on the bike 1:35. I have no idea how I did it, I felt like I was running on fumes, but I just kept pushing. I think that was one of my top 3 lap times during the whole race.
I should mention that this race had the rule that all laps must be completed by 11:59:59 on sunday, so I knew there was a decision coming up. If you come in after noon, your lap doesn’t count.
The last lap was filled with nausea and time calculations.
I know that if I pulled out a fast lap time, I would have enough time left for number 12.
I knew that if Judd was motivated and pulled out a quick one as well, so would he.
If I arrived after about 10:15, fitting in another lap before 12 would be iffy.
If Judd left after about 8:45, fitting in 2 before 12 would be iffy.
So many scenarios, and I had no idea if I was staring down the possibility of needing another 16.8 miles or if I was done.
Just keep pushing………………..
I pushed, I looked up results, and then I sat down and stopped riding.
I arrived at 9:45, plenty of time for another one, but Judd had left at 8:50, and had announced that he was done after 11, and my legs were in a world of hurt (not to mention my ass).
Second place was locked up, first place was a lap ahead, and I was done riding. I pulled it off. No sleeping, longest lap time including breaks was 2:39, shortest was 1:30 (excluding the first one). Second place.
I later realized that Fran was in a very deep, dark pain cave on his last lap, and if I had somehow left for my last lap and pulled out something under 1:45, there was a possibility that I could have caught him. I’m actually kinda glad I didn’t know that, because I may have actually tried, and I probably would be laying out in the zuni mountains somewhere, one giant muscle cramp.
In case you want to see the full rundown, the results of the race are posted up here.
Since I’m such a numbers guy, and I was curious to see how it all played out, I also pulled the numbers from the solo singlespeed category and plugged them into a spreadsheet here. If you look at the cumulative times, you can see the battle play out between Judd and I, as Fran steadily pulls ahead through the night (although I started chipping away again in the morning…).
I should also send out a quick congrats to Steve and Chad who threw down for second place in the duo category as well. They did great for their first 24 hour race, and I expect to see them out there again with all the fun they had.
Congrats to Fran, and thanks to Judd for giving me a good run for the money. It was great to be out riding with such a fun group of folks, and it was a great weekend to be out there.