Wednesday, August 18, 2010

24HOGG Re-Cap

The cannon went off and then 24 hours latter it went off again, in between there was a lot of racing to be had.

Ok I guess I can write a bit more than that, especially since I've been given a hard time for not having a write up ready to go on Monday morning. Jeez TWAF fans have high expectations!

This was my 14th go at the race, and my fourth go as a solo, but my first running it solo on a geared bike (got all of that?). In addition to gears I ran the Big Mama so there was plenty of squish to keep my back a bit more comfy. Add to that that K has had me doing planks and some core work (when I remember) and for the first year in a long time my back was not really an issue, other than general fatigue.

The weekend started on Friday when I drove up to get our camping area set up so that Saturday morning would be a bit less hectic. I found a spot in the solo area and set up the Bridgton Academy pop up as well as our actual sleeping tent. I picked up my registration packet and drove home so that I could have dinner with my family as my sister was home from Colorado for a super short trip for a wedding. (If you're looking to book a group for skiing at Eldora give Sony Cole a call!)

Saturday morning I packed up early and thought I'd be heading up hours before K and the girls, but a transformer blew in the early AM near our house leaving us without power, so the female contingent headed up to GGTOC soon after me. I got camp set, bikes set, food set, and then headed over to the tent for intros and the captains meeting. It was cool to meet Laird Knight- in many ways the father of 24 Hour Racing, being the promoter of the original 24 Hours of Caanan. He still oversees Granny Gear Productions and handles timing for a number of events.

I got my intro as the forum moderator and then grabbed a seat in the crowd and listened as we almost had a major change to the finish rules go unchecked. Laird was talking about the timing system and said you didn't need to have a rider on course at the time of the finish- which would have broken a 14 year tradition- I asked Howie (the GM at GGTOC and the Auto Road) and he agreed that we didn't want to make that change at this point so he got the attention of the crowd and got the issue resolved. I was glad as having to be on course at noon sort of keeps me motivated to keep riding. If I could go out and ride for a few hours and knew I didn't need to do at least that last lap I could see myself really mailing it in.

After the meeting I headed back to camp, stopping to catch up with people I seem to only see at the 24HOGG but who feel like long time friends. That is one the parts I love about bike racing is the "culture and community". While I don't see a lot of these people all the time they are people who I get to suffer with on course and who share a lot of common stories. Many I can't even remember their names- but I can tell you that I know their faces- and many of them I can pick out their ass out of a line up, having spent hours over the years riding behind many of them. Some may only recognize me by my ass.

The family was over at the camp and K was getting ready to be the Pit'B for the race. JJ had planned on doing it, but realized that watching some of the race would be fun, but staying for the full 24 might be overkill. Which I can understand. It was a bummer not racing with JJ, as this is a race he and I have done together many, many times. I'm looking forward to him being all healthy and un-broken next year. Who knows, maybe we'll do a two person or maybe a full bore TWAF reunion race with a 4 or 5 person team next year.

I found my way to the start, K had the bike, and you could feel the energy build. The race starts with a run around the pond for a LeMan's style start. Having done this race enough I know you have two choices- run like hell and try to stay at the front so that you can actually ride the Blueberry Hill, or walk around the pond and get to your bike a minute or two after the main field but then catch most of them on the Blueberry Field hill anyway. I let experience dictate the tactic and walking was the choice. I mounted up and rode with Mike and found that our prediction was spot on.

The course was DRY and very rideable. And that allowed the field to string out pretty fast as we didn't have a lot of crashes on the single track clogging things up. By the time I wrapped up my first lap I didn't feel the course was congested at all, and that made for good riding.

The course is just over 8 miles and has 1000 feet of climbing per lap. You climb a lot and you climb often. Most of the climbs are not technical at all, but traction can be a bit of an issue. I found myself using the granny gear a fair amount and it was very different than past years when I was racing on a single speed. In that same vein I definitely noticed the additional weight of the bike on the climbs, but enjoyed the descending and root eating ability of the Big Mama the rest of the time.

The laps started to tick off and I felt pretty good. It was HOT so I was blasting through water and gel and the occasional Cliff Bar. K was doing feeds and keeping the Enduolytes coming as well, but I was already falling behind in hydration, a fact that became very clear on my fourth lap. For those who have followed this blog for awhile you will remember "Pam and Tommy" my infamous inner thigh leg cramps that I first dealt with during the Jay Challenge at a time when my mind as starting to shut down. Anyway Pam and Tommy began to "fight" about halfway through my fourth lap and had me standing on the side of the trail trying to stretch. I'd ride a bit, then have to walk a bit and I was getting concerned that this might be a bit like 2008.

I limped my way through that lap and really started hammering the water, a full bottle while in pit along with another bottle on the bike. I headed out for #5 with Mike and the idea that after that lap it would be time for some real food as we'd be approaching having been on the bike for nearly 6 hours.

Mike and I took it easy and it felt pretty good, the cramping wasn't always on the verge and when I could feel it coming I could walk a bit to work it out. We wrapped up lap 5 and I was stoked to get some food. I headed to the pit with the girls and K made me a sandwich and I hammered the liquids. While I was sitting there I saw Mike go out for another lap, which got me all wound up as I was ready to have a beer and kick back for a bit, but soon I was kitting up and hoping I could get in number 6 before A) it got dark and B) the Moat stopped serving their Pulled Pork BBQ.

I headed out and rode fairly comfortably, with only a few minor slips on a few roots showing a bit of moisture as the temps began to fall. I rolled into the tent with about 10 minutes till the Moat BBQ shut down so K headed over to grab me a plate while I rolled back to camp to clean up a bit. Any yes the food tasted fantastic, especially with a couple Long Trails to keep the fluids going!

At that point we called it a night and climbed into our tents, and while I can't say I slept great I slept enough the when I woke up a 5am I was feeling ok. I kept hammering the water and headed over for a quick breakfast and coffee before embarking on another six hours in the saddle.

Morning is always interesting, as when I went to bed I was likely tied for third place in my category, but by the morning I had dropped like a rock down the standings. While I was feeling somewhat refreshed and ready to go, so of the other riders where looking like hell- and they should have, having ridden all night.

I kitted up while the bag piper ushered in the hour of 6am, and headed out- determined to ride strong until the finish. The course had held up well over night and the laps felt good. K was giving me good feeds and encouragement and I actually felt ok. As 10am approached I was trying to figure out if I wanted to give it a bit of a go and try to see if I could make 12 laps or if 11 was going to be more realistic, as I finished #9 I realized that I would really have to crush #10 and #11 to possibly make it in before noon so that I could go out on #12- and the ability to crush had left the building.

Once that realization was made I just put it in cruz control and tried to ride smart and smooth. I heard the cannon go off while climbing Dugway, and knew that I only had about 15 more minutes or riding to do.

I was riding with Chris Meier and we took our time rolling around the course. But as we got closer to the finish I could feel myself wanting to ride fast, but there wasn't any juice left to get me moving much quicker than I was going.

I crossed the line at 12:23 with 11 laps, about 90 miles and over 11,000 feet of climbing.

It was a good year, missed my goal by 2 laps, but still came away happy.

Next year will be my 15th run at the race, and I can't wait.

Thank you to my wife Karen and the girls for pitting, to the Morgans for coming up and cheering us all on and shooting some cool pics, the Webbs for checking out all the craziness, Big Al at, and everyone else who raced, cheered, crewed, watched, cooked for, sponsored, worked on, volunteered, and whatever else I'm forgetting.

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