Friday, August 21, 2009

24-14=10 Hours of Great Glen

My season started out with 2 major things on my calendar. One was the 24 Hours of Great Glen in early August. The other was a 2 week vacation at a villa on the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. I was feeling pretty solid up through June and July. I was even beating DEA on occasion which is not the norm. I like to tell myself it was due to my superior fitness as opposed to his recovering from injury that was the reason.

Needless to say when July 17 came, we loaded up the car for phase on of our summer vacation which was with the whole family. We hit the Baseball Hall of Fame and then went to Niagara Falls and visited family. I saw almost no time on the bike that week. Then on July 24 we flew to St. Maarten where we spent the next 11 days eating very well (the same as too much) and staying well hydrated (lots of adult beverages) and very little physical activity. I was thinking of the three weeks from my last real ride to the 24 Hr race as a nice taper. Fool.

When the race began DEA, A1 and myself hung at the back of the pack to let the crazy fast people and just plane crazy or ignorant people lead off the front. We made our brisk walk for the Le Mans start and got to our bikes. I was running my Some Juice 29er as a 32x22 singlespeed. Basically the same gearing as was DEA but a bit tougher than the dinner-plate 24 I ran last year, but it was in the tool box in case I needed it. A1 was running his 32x20 since he's a tough guy.

The first lap was pretty smooth and I was trying to be smart about what to ride and what to walk of the course. The three of us stayed together for another lap until A1 decided to not pit at all between laps and just go. DEA and I pitted after each lap to reload our water, get a gel and take care of anything that needed attention.

We rode lap 3 together and as we headed out for the fourth lap I started cramping a bit. I felt like I was getting enough water and was taking the Endurolytes each pit but was not feeling good. It was warm but not hot by any means. About half way through lap 4 My back began to stiffen. It made pushing my bike difficult let alone riding. As we hit the pits after Lap 4 I decided that I needed to take a break. DEA figured that if he stopped as well he wouldn't go back out so he got some water and headed back out. I found a chair and his leg massager stick thingie and worked on my calves.

DEA's wife was in camp with mine and they got the grill fired up and put some burger and dogs on. A few minutes later the beers were out and I decided I enjoyed this more than riding at that moment. My day of riding was over. AS a result I ended up with a snail like 14 hour lap number 5 which I completed Sunday morning.

When I did go back out Sunday morning I had checked the standings. Regardless of how hard I pushed I was pretty much locked into the finish position I was in as long as I rode 3 laps in the final 4 hours. That was not a problem as unfortunately for me I felt much better Sunday morning than I did the day before.

I ended up with 7 laps and 6th place. DEA was 5th with 10 laps.

I had a good time with the whole weekend, but I definitely was very disappointed with how I rode Saturday. I will blame the excessive taper this time. Next year I will have a different excuse.


Friday, August 14, 2009

24 Hours of Great Glen- another one in the books

Not every race starts with cannon fire that causes you to just about jump out of your skin. You’d think I’d know better as I’ve raced the 24 Hours of Great Glen a total of 13 times, but that cannon fire still catches me off guard.

Once again I found myself racing in the solo SS category along with fellow Bikeman teammates, JJ and George Lapierre as well as TWAF teammate A1. JJ and I took up our usual spot walking the lap around the pond with the knowledge that you either have to run super fast to get out front early, or take your time and catch all those running fools on the blueberry field climb only minutes after you grab your bike. Experience does have its benefits!

I got to my bike and mounted up for lap #1 with JJ and A1. The weather had finally come around and we had enjoyed a few days of fairly dry weather leading up to the race. This meant the course was in pretty good shape, and for the most part the course was rideable if you have the legs to do it. That being said the legs I would have needed are still stuck in 2006 and despite my attempts to get to them with the flux capacitor, I was stuck riding with my legs of 2009. Either way I knew it was going to be fun, and my goal was to go and ride and enjoy the weekend.

Originally I had designs on riding 100 miles, meaning I was going to need to ride 13 or so laps. The course had been shortened a bit and was coming in at 7.7 miles and climbing was just under 1000 feet per lap. The riding was going well, having broken the cardinal rule of racing on gear that I had yet to actually give a legitimate shakedown on. I was running my Salsa Mamasita that had gone through a bit of a metamorphosis. Gone was the Reba fork, replaced with an Origins 8 rigid carbon fork. Gone was the SRAM x9 drive train, replaced with a White Industries Eno wheel with a White Industries freewheel. What was still there were the trusty Ergon grips and my 1995 Shimano XT crank. The bike was working and the 30x20t gear was turning over and when it wasn’t my granny gear (me walking) seemed to be working quite well.
The first two laps JJ, A1 and I rode together, laps three and four JJ and I rode together. We were out having fun and enjoying the course. The Hammer gels and Endurolytes were doing their trick keeping me moving (along with beef jerky) and the duct tape that I used to tape my heels with after the second lap were keeping my feet in ok shape.

After four laps my goal of riding the 100 miles began to wane a bit as the miles began to add up and the reality of not having put in the hard work this summer began to show. We rolled into camp after four laps and our families were there asking when we were going to break for dinner. Dennis was thinking he was done for a bit, and I knew that if I sat down I’d be done for awhile as well, so I grabbed a Hammer gel, a fresh bottle and headed out for lap five.

I felt pretty good. No cramping issues which had been plaguing me on rides over three hours for years. The bike was running well and the course was in pretty good shape. I cruised my fifth lap and pulled into camp with the idea that a beer and a burger would taste mighty good.

I got out of my wet and muddy kit and went to sit in the river for a minute to clean up. The water was shockingly cold and any lactic acid in my legs quickly jumped out the pores on the back of my neck and made its way to dry (and warmer) land. It was that type of cold that hurts so good. I walked back to camp feeling refreshed and sat down to a feast of burgers and beers- perfect!

Of course the comfort of camp made it difficult to get kitted back up, and the company at camp made it even more difficult. We ended up visiting with good friends and somehow beer kept showing up. I looked at my bike and said, “we’ll get back at it in the AM.”

This meant I would likely not hit my 100 miles, but I was ok with that. I climbed into my -20 bag and was soon glad I had brought it as the temps dropped. I slept well, awoke to the bagpiper and decided to go get in a lap before breakfast. The sun was up and the air was beginning to warm. The course had improved in some places and gotten a bit sloppy in others, but all in all it was in good shape. I loosened up and my legs began to get into the ride. I came in with an idea of breakfast, but decided to keep it rolling as Dennis was up and ready to go. We cranked out another two laps, stopping to get gel and fresh bottles each lap and then it was time to make the call- put the hammer down and get in two more or sit up and just ride the final lap needed to be at the finish for noon. If I got two it meant I’d get 10 laps, my fall back goal, so I bid Dennis adieu and hit the trail with purpose. The lap went well and I actually felt fast in a couple of spots. I came into the timing tent at 11:35 with a lot of cheers as the crowd likes it when solo’s are going out for that last lap (little did they know I had slept for 10 hours!)

I bottled and gel’d up one last time and put the hammer down. It felt good as I was in the fifth our of riding for the second time in a 24 hour period and I was pleased that my body was reacting well. My arms and neck actually were the sorest parts of me and I knew I only had about 50 minutes left of discomfort. I found I was catching a fair number of people and starting to feel a pretty good grove. I got caught by the two lead teams, and they were FLYING, it was an impressive display. Their speed motivated me a bit and picked up my pace, riding the climbs a bit harder (and longer) and letting it fly a bit more on the descents.

Coming into the Chute the cheers were loud and invigorating. I cleaned the last tricky section and just went hard for the finish. As I rolled in Dennis was there at the dismount point with a bottle of Tuckerman open and ready, I took the hand up and rolled into the tent- feeling pretty good and pumped with the event.

It was cool to see all the Bikeman jerseys at the race. Kudo’s to George, Jason, and Dennis who I got to ride with at various points during the race. Kudo’s to the Bikeman guys on the teams as well. We were all well represented.

For those who haven’t done the race- put it on your calendar for 2010- you’ll be stoked you did.

Friday, August 07, 2009

24 hours until the 24 hours of great glen

I have Europe "it's the final countdown" stuck in my head. This happens every year before the race. I don't really know any of the words other than "it's the final countdown" and then I can hear the power cords being played.

In 24 hours I'll start getting all nervous and feeling like I've forgotten something. Then I'll start wishing the race began at 9am so I would be about to start. That's just the way it is!

So today is the get some work done, get some packing done, gather my food, clean the bikes, give the bikes a shake down ride, try to get our camping space dialed, go home and sleep and then get up and get it going.

In keeping with tradition I'm doing what you are not supposed to do, race brand new gear that you haven't had a chance to ride. That's what I do. I like doing that, it offers a built in excuse if things go south or a great way to really put something through the paces if they go well.

I'll have my trusty Salsa El Mariachi but I'll also be bringing my newly converted and refurbished Salsa Mamasita that is now a carbon forked, White Industries ENO's single speed. I did give it a short ride last night and the fit is close. I may still shorten the steerer tube by a centimeter still- but we will see.

I did build a nice custom chain ring guard out of a spent 32t chainring from 1995. A bit of grinding and then drilling out the pins that help with shifting. As usual it took a lot more time than I had planned- but in the end it worked and that's all that matters! Now I was able to use the 32t as I'm running a 30t for my front ring as my freewheel is a 20t- and yes I'm going for a baby gear, but considering better than 1000 feet of climbing per lap, and hoping for 13 or so laps- that's a fair amount of climing- so better safe than sorry.

K is going to pit for me this year, which will help, especially when it comes to bottle hand ups as I only want to carry one bottle on the bike. It will also help to see her each lap as she'll make sure I'm eating and taking the Endurolites (which I'm hoping help with the cramping).

Either way it's going to be a fun weekend. JJ and A1 are both racing Solo SS as well so we'll get a chance to ride together for a bit (I hope). I haven't ridden with A1 at all this year, so I'm looking forward to that.

That's my take at the moment- oh and in other TWAF news- NK starts work at Bridgton Academy on Monday- so two TWAF'ers will once again be working in the same place! At one point three of us worked together, and at this moment in time none of us work together so this will be like a mini reunion.

Ride safe and hope for sun.