Monday, May 26, 2008

Burn 24.

This was my second attempt at a 24 solo event. I will be the first to tell you that 24 solo racing is not my bag (yet). I don't train for them and even though I have participated in about 15 of them (all on teams), they are probably my least favorite races to do. Don't get me wrong, I do like them it's just that they are so hard on me and it takes me a few days to recover after one. Plus riding in circles for 24 hours gets pretty damn boring. Still it's a challenge and that's what keeps me going.

I arrived at the venue for the Burn on Friday night with a few goals in the back of my mind. First, I wanted to push through the 12 hour wall that I knew would come at midnight. Second, I wanted to finish in the top 20 and get at least 20 laps which would give me 150 miles - my longest off road ride ever. Last, I wanted to be safe and not crash. I set up and met teammate David Nice who rode a bus from Denver to Winston Salem and then the final 60 miles from Winston Salem on his bike - a fixed gear Jabberwocky. (Some of the things David has done on his fixie are just insane.)

Look ma one brake.

Overnight a front came through with rain and cooler temps but by race time the weather was primo. Jeremy got there Saturday morning and just a little while later, Misty from Vassago made it after having a game of hokey pokey with airport security.

There was a lot of people there and that's always a good thing. With 50ish solo riders and all the teams, the first lap was sure to be a jam no matter how many measures were taken to spread it out before we hit the singletrack.

The LeMans start actually wasn't that bad and put me on the trail in pretty much mid-pack which meant HEAVY traffic. In several spots, I found myself doing trackstands while I waited for the trail to clear (and while team-racer types were going all apeshit and running through the woods). I was gonna be there all day and night, I had no reason to get excited. Climbing on a singlespeed in traffic is a real bitch. Basically it is like doing a trackstand and pedaling every other second. I had a plan though and I wasn't going to waste any energy by passing people I didn't need to pass or racing with people I had no business racing with. I stuck to my plan and that made me happy. Even with all that, my first lap was 44 minutes and my target was 1 hour. I didn't feel like I rode to hard so all was good.

By 4:30, I had ridden 5 laps more or less non-stop so I took a break and had some food and a Coke. Up until that point, me, Jeremy, David and Misty were like ships in the night - we hardly saw each other. Misty announced she was going to get dinner in a while so I did a couple more laps and had PIZZA. Mmmmmm. After all day of drinking some energy concoction that tastes like boiled ass (at least what I would imagine boiled ass tastes like), having pizza was like eating at a five star restaurant. It was a treat.
(Edit: Eddie and Namrita bought the pizzas and Misty got the cheeseburgers and fries (that I totally forgot about, they were great!) Thanks Eddie and Nam and Misty too!!)

I was feeling pretty good and had been riding and climbing well. It was hot and that bothered me some but what bothered me most was a huge blister that had formed on my left hand ( I later figured out that my left grip had gotten rotated down some causing the problem, once I fixed that, it was good.)

The one thing about the Burn course is that it is full of roots, holes ups and downs. You never really get much chance to rest except for a couple of doubletrack sections that are really short. If you choose to ride only rigid bikes, you can expect to get pounded at the Burn. It was gonna be dark soon and I knew I was going to hit a wall so I tried everything I could think of to save energy which included walking some of the steepest climbs that really take a lot of energy and searching out the smoothest lines possible.

Speaking of climbs and the course. The Brushy Mountain Cyclist Club really did a great job with the Dark Mountain Trail that the race is run on. They had some new construction that added about a mile or so to the course and it was obvious that they really put alot of time in to get the course ready.

It got cold quickly when the sun went down and I got a chill while I ate pizza. Getting back on the bike cold and wet was really hard and I decided the best way to stay warm was to ride all night. That's worked fine until about 1:45 and I had to stop. I had long since lost my motivation to ride and I forced myself to keep going (this is where the 12 vs 24 hour race thing gets really hard. My body expects to stop after 12 hours and when I don't, things get bitchy). I crawled into my sleeping bag and shivered myself to sleep. Night time is a horrible time at a 24 hour race. You have no way to gauge how you are doing. You feel like shit, everyone is passing you like you are going the other way, it's dark and you feel isolated. The next thing you know the aliens show up and fit you with an anal probe.
It's no wonder people hate the night. It can be scary.

Sunrise brought warmth and a renewed spirit. It is amazing what a couple of hours of crappy sleep and cold pizza with coffee will do for you. It seems that over half the solo field had the same issues I had because I only lost one position during my 5 hour sabbatical. I rode 3 laps back to back and my legs made a surprise appearance for a while and I was climbing everything again. At about 10:30, half way through my 14th lap, I decided my 15th lap would be my last.

Doing a 16th would only move me from 25th to 23rd and that wasn't worth the suffering at that point. On the final climb, I was surprised to come up on a very slow riding Mark Hendershot ( don't know why he was riding slow, he was only on his 28th lap). It was odd but refeshing to see that everyone suffers in these races. I passed him at the top of the climb and he didn't look so good but he was still turning over the pedals like a machine. Mark won last year and this year he would finish second to a kid that did an impressive 30 laps. I rolled through the transition area and straight on out for my 15th lap with only a fresh bottle of water and a mouthful of Twizzlers.

I rolled back in at about 11:40 and called it a day. I didn't quite do what I came to do but I did finish 25th with 15 laps which was better than last year. I rode a total of 113 miles and roughly (I am guessing) 15,000 feet of climbing (that's a pretty big deal until you realize the guy that won rode 226 miles and about 30,000 feet of climbing!!!) and I never crashed or had any mechanical failures. I also learned a lot that will help me in future races.

Oh and I had fun.

It was great to hang out with Misty, Jeremy, David, Eddie and Namrita. The weather was perfect and the race that Eddie, Namrita and all the volunteers put on was great. Dollar for dollar I don't think you'll find a better 24 hour event period.

I can't wait for next year.

A big thanks to Nancy for the pre-race food prep, to Misty, Eddie and Namrita for the Cheesburgers, Pizza and Coffee, to my teammates Jeremy and David - it was great to hang out with you guys, and to Vassago Cycles, as the team continues to grow, we are proving that big wheels do keep on rolling and the big wheels to be on have a Vassago head badge attached to them.

A quiet moment in the Vassago pits

2009 Prototype Vassago Tricycle (as tested by Mr O'Dea)

The latest in endurance racing fashion ala Rich Dillen.

The kids.

1 comment:

Hmmm.... said...

Dude...awesome race and awesome time! Love the write up. When you really know what boiled ass tastes like...keep it to yourself! :) Love the Dicky pants and the kids! Good to see you again!

PS: Nam and Eddie bought the pizza - I bought burgers/fries!!!! Like to keep you full of junk when you race!