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.

1 comment:

bluecolnago said...

there's something special about an overnight endurance race. hard to explain, but it's there. good on ya!