Wednesday, September 9, 2009

24 Hours of Racing?

Endurance Racing is not my thing...

Last year sometime, I made the proclimation that I would infact dabble with endurance racing in the 2009 season. I really have no idea why I might have done this... Last season, I found myself cramping and coming unglued at cross country races that were on the north side of 20 miles. Of my 10 cross country races last year, only one was under 20 miles. That one was offset by 4500 feet of climbing in +95° heat with 357% humidity (it felt like I had the slug from .357 mag lodged in my head after this race). In summation, as far as I can recall, I cramped and/or came completely unglued at every race last season. Why I decided that I'd want to try endurance racing next year, is truly, beyond me.

Endurance Racing is my thing... Sorta.

This season, true to my word, I took the plunge. I started small with a muddy, early season 4 hour race, followed that up with a mid season 9 hour race, and a 24 hour relay in the waning days of this season.

The first race, 4 Hours of Iron Hill, I was a fool. I went out too hard and didnt drink nearly enough fluid. The second half was a downward spiral which cluminated with my last lap of doging mortar shells. I wasn't quick enough.

The second race was one of the best grassroots cycling events I had ever witnessed. The official race was 9 hours. My race which was riddled with shouldering trees, cramping and general soreness, only lasted 6 hours. After 4 hours, dry clothes, folding chairs and coolers full of ice cold brew were taunting me. By hour 5, those three inanimate things had launched a barrage of fire onto my morale and motivation. At hour 6, I succombed to the attack and called it quits. Fortunately, my partner in crime - Adam - had a strikingly similar mental battle brewing, pun intended.

My first two endurance races were clearly less than stellar. Oddly enough, I still found them fun.

Seven Springs Champion Challenge 24 hour MTB Race

This past weekend marked the finale of my 2009 racing season. And what a finale it was. After all my displeasure with endurance races, Seven Springs blindsided me. I had heard that 24 hour relays are "fun," but admittedly, I was wrongfully skeptical. I was pleasantly surprised that everything about this weekend was laced with fun. Epic, masochistic, fun.

The Lemans Start...

For those of you that don't know my history, I'm a bit of an ex-runner. As such, I feel quite at home doing LeMans Starts at bike races. In fact, I'm reigning LeMans start champion at the early season Marysville Team Relay. I saw no reason to let my undefeated status slip away here. Not surprisingly, I claimed the holeshot with authority. It took 6 miles for my singlespeed and I to be caught. The guy that caught me, was shredding, so kudos to him. I finished out my first lap without incident, although the half mile run did take its toll. I ended up finishing second wheel, about 2 minutes off the lead. Lap time: 1:06:34.

Lap Two

Lap two was my fastest lap - by far. I felt like I was on fire for this one. I was rockin' the descents, railing the corners and hammering the climbs. I finished this lap in 1:04 and change which gave me a top ten lap time overall and 3rd fastest on lap 2. I was pretty stoked and felt great. Lap time: 1:04:27.

After this one, my next lap was going to be around 1:00am, so I needed grub and sleep. I gorged on some great food prepared by John Plewa and other friends and teammates (without you all, this would NOT have been a good experience). I plugged in my lights and got some sleep.

Lap Three

After a couple hours sleep, I rolled up to the team HQ feeling fresh. I prepare my gear and start setting up my lights. I'm excited to try out a new light that I had just received the week before. I'm a little wary about the fact that I am relying on an unproven light during a race in the dark. I'm comforted by the fact that I have my trusty NiteRider HID as well. Wouldn't you know? 10 minutes till start and my NiteRider is shorting out. Perfect.

Now, I'm considerably more nervous about running a shady, new, unproven light on smokin fast, dark and twisty descents. The light held up, but my lack of confidence showed. Lap three was my slowest lap by about 5 minutes. Oh well - lesson learned: Check your gear DAYS before the race, not minutes. Lap time: 1:14:40.

Lap Four

Lap four would be my last lap, starting around 7:00am. For me, this was the toughest lap. I was tired, I was cranky, and I was cold. I didnt want to get out of bed, nor did I want to suit up. Once I got out there, though, everything was A-O-K. The course was great at getting you going. The whole first three miles are downhill, so it really pushes you to race your lap rather than sit back and ride. After the long climb just after half way, I raced hard. I was redlining because I knew that our race as a team was close. Our main competition had some type of mishap overnight, but I knew they were coming for us - and they were hungry. It was all I could do to muster up a sub 1:10 final lap. Lap time 1:09:51.

Finish it up

The race was out of my hands now so it was time for a beer - at 9:00am - which felt totally normal and tasted delicious. Ron put in a nice final lap. KTown amazed everyone with what was nearly her fastest lap of the race. Federer rolled out a good lap and Campbell managed to hold off the final charge of our competition by riding in his flat tire to clinch first place in our 5 person coed division. KTown, Ron, Campbell and Federer all rode well to contribute to our team victory. What better way to end an epic race than with a top spot on the podium.

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