This is why...
The 24 Hours Summer Solstice Mountain Bike relay race. Well let's start at the beginning...ish.
Giant and I headed to Albion Hills, the race venue on Wednesday to pre ride the course (which we did for one lap), and to race in SuperflyRacing's weekly Wednesday nite Albion race (which we did for one lap). It was all good. Our first impression after only two laps, was that the course was relatively easy...not technical...and no significant climbs.
So on Friday, I head up to Albion with Matty Tee (my son and race support; as I was racing solo and would need that help).
We met up with CptSydor, and VVagabond who were already there (and were also solo racing), and got our camp and solo racer (Giant would also be racing solo) tent and table set up. So far, so good...
John and Katrina eventually showed up and got the Rock & Road tents set up (I was actually poaching on their site...thank you guys and gals!!). John was racing on a Rock&Road 5 man team...and his teammates were to show up Saturday morning.
Friday saw us meet other racer friends. BobOfSwords racing his single speed as part of a 5 man team (The Trail Bullies). Unglued, and 14Stone on a Lapdog's team. mtbmeister racing on a team. Jeremiah was racing solo, but I didn't see him all weekend! Irishman up from the USA to race on a team. EnglishJim had set up a 5 man team including Jamie, NewfieSteve, and PowerPaul.
Friday night was cold! Got down to about 7 degrees. We woke up Saturday hoping for better weather...forecast was for a low of 17 degrees for Saturday night....much better! Much to his relief, John's teammates eventually showed up Saturday morning. MattyTee got my bike and race food ready...as I tried to get myself prepared...
CptSydor, VVagabond, Giant, and I made our way to the start paddock. It was starting to fill up quickly. Once there we also met thedumbopinion (racing on a team), and Ross (racing on the Trail Bullies 5 man team).
Before we knew it the race was underway! Giant was off like a rocket! CptSydor, VV, and I took a 24 hour pace right off the start...actually there wasn't much real choice with a mass start of a gazzillion people (no exaggeration there at all either!)...(As my mother used to say, "A million times, I tell you, don't exaggerate!! Booo...ahhhhh!!")...
About a half ways into the lap the field started to thin out enough I found my proper pace and made my way...trading places with CptSydor...making a few passses...letting a few faster pacers get by. Through most of the first lap, pass our pit where MattyTee and the guys are cheering....pass the LapDogs Pit, where 14Stone was holding a sign that said '10 Kms to go!!' (about 300 metres from the finish). Almost made me quit...
Through the transition area, into lap 2. Lap 1 in the books, just over an hour. JeffS was at the start hill cheering me on for lap 2...letting me know I was currently in 3rd place...I know dskunk and JohnR (two of my faster-than-me competition) had both passed me on lap1 so I knew I was back some. A brief stop at the pit after lap 2 to grab new water bottles and nutrition that MattyTee had all set up and ready for me...MattyTee informing me i was now in 4th...still not so bad...lots of time left...and on to lap 3. And so it went...
Until lap 4. Hit the first wall....which I typically do after 4 hours or so. The body uses up its glycogen reserves....and is using faster than it can take in....and starts the process of gluconeogenesis (and that's all the science I will cover today)...all you can do is continue to hydrate, eat, and push through it...which is what I did...
Well...kind of like that...but not quite...
Anyways...kept going. I had warned MattyTee ahead of time (as he had agreed to help me out), that as I get tired/exhausted I may get a little emotional...short tempered and even bitchier than normal. However, didn't really happen...except maybe to Fig. Fig made some comment as I stopped to rehydrate/eat after a lap...and I snapped back somewhat over the top. Sorry Fig. You may be a bit of a goof sometimes....but you are not a 'C-head'.
Lap 6 had to stop and install lights for the night laps (although it was so nice and bright out; summer solstice and all...that didn't need to turn the lights on till lap 8 or 9!). MattyTee snapped the bar light into place and handed me the spare helmet he had set up with the headlight...Not quite like this spare helmet...
Matty was certainly on his game, helping me out! As this went on Seth (who was racing on the Rock & Road 5 man team) grabbed my bike and re-lubed the chain...thanks Seth!!
Lap 7 and 8, something was wrong. My hands were getting very beat up. My fork had stuck on lock-out and I was riding rigid. I pulled into the pit after lap8 and Kyle (who was racing for the Rock & Road team, and who is the shop mechanic) had a look at the fork and within two minutes had it functional again! Thanks Kyle!
Something else was wrong. CptSydor was in the pit in his civies (non mtb clothes). He had to quit after 6 laps...his IT (Ilio-tibial) band was inflamed. Too bad, man!
FYI...VV was still out there maintaining a steady pace and killing it! Who else was killing it? The R&R 5 man team was tearing it up! With 5 fast dudes (John, Kyle, Seth, Fig, misconceptionz) they kept a steady lock on first place in their category!
And ApexTed and his team were also putting in a 24 hour shift! Out on various different parts of the course taking pics....there are some great ones at ApexRacePhotography!! Check them out! I will be downloading a few to include in next weeks follow up post! (psssst, I am plate 51).
Anyways...remember back at the start of this post when I said it seemed like there were no significant climbs on this course? Well, at this point of the race it seemed like every hill was a full mountain. That stupid rutted gravel hill passing GetGroen trail...baking in the hot sun. That stupid never ending hill past the solo pit area. That stupid rooty road hill with the mud pit sign on it. That stupid rooty road hill with the 5km to go sign on it....just to remind you that the last 5k still had the hills of HotAugustNights trail, and HighRoller to go. What were we thinking?? No real climbs my aching arse!! Each one sucked a little more life out of you...every lap...
MattyTee informed me I was now in 5th place as I headed out for lap9. Lap9 was my first lap of pain. My hands were getting blistered, my arse was getting sore...but mostly it was my lower back. A dull thud of pain was growing...and it was starting to cramp up. Every climb made it worse...I had to pull into the pit after lap 9 and take some time to stretch out and try to ease the pain in my back. MattyTee grabbed me some ibuprofens...good old vitamin I. He also brewed me a coffee to put in my water bottle for lap 10....that coffee tasted like heaven on earth!! So after 15 minutes or so of stretching and trying to pop my back...headed out for lap 10. The first real night lap.
It was starting to cool off. Blaze had lent me his R&R vest (he couldn't race due to his broken wrist)...I threw it on over my BicycleWorks jersey. I just hoped no one mistook me for an R&R race team member...
Anyways...Lap 10 felt better...and the race results show it. Lap 11 not so much...the discomfort in my back was becoming severe. Every climb was a repeated stab to the lower back... Adding to that, I was starting to fall asleep on my bike....very much like driving tired...and just as dangerous. I had to pull into the pit after lap 11. More stretching...a brief nap...more stretching. MattyTee informed me I had pulled back into 4th. I'm not sure how...must have been on lap 10. If I had any chance at top 3 I had to keep going...I had already stopped too long. CptSydor offered me some T-3s...I took a couple...as he lubed my bike chain again. Thank you CptSydor!!
I wasn't the only one suffering. Giant was pushing it too...his rocket-like start was now taking it's toll. While he was in first place in his category early in the race, he had now dropped to second and was struggling to stay ahead of third. However, this guy is one of the most competitive/stubborn people I know. He was hurting...but he kept going...
Matty had put new fresh lights on my bike and helmet and I headed out for lap 12. Excrutiating. But the night song of the bullfrogs (where the course passed water there are bullfrogs, and at night they sing the strangest sounding songs) gave way to the early birds. And with the first sign of birds, you knew day was coming...there was hope. Lap 13, my back was cramping from my butt to my shoulder blades. It was all I could muster to keep the pedals moving. Then Giant caught me and we rode together for awhile, both of us so happy that the sun was coming up. Within that one lap it had gone from night to day...but I had to pull into the pit on lap 13.
I stretched again. Ate...took in fluids. I really wasn't sure if I could continue. I sat at the picnic table to stretch some more...and fell asleep with my face in my knees. I'm not really sure for how long...but I woke up falling to the ground. misconceptionz was in the pit sleeping in a gravity chair...my falling had woke him. He said "Either get in a proper chair, or get back out there; after all this is the 24 hour of summer solstice race...not the 20 hour." He was trying to motivate me, I think. But in my exhausted painful confusion I wasn't sure if I should punch him in the face (isn't that what good friends do?? kidding of course)...or get on my bike and get going.
Yeah....something like that. Not really... Anyways, MattyTee said, "Here Dad, you can do it.", as he handed me my helmet with the light removed, and had taken the light off my bike. So after an almost 2 hour break (far, far too long), I headed out for lap 14. Thank you misconceptionz and MattyTee for spurring me on!! I was still in fourth place....could I catch third??
On lap 14 I caught VV....she was steadily chugging on....well done!! Lap 14 the pain was still there. The back cramping repeatedly, the hands now well blistered, legs depleted of all energy, and the stomach actively fighting against any more food. I was on the verge of vomiting several times. Every climb was now in granny gear...a full on struggle to the top. I passed by the pit...I knew if I stopped I'd be done. On to lap 15...if I had any chance of making top 3 I had to keep going. On lap 15 I ran out of water. On the way past the solo pit area (where that stupid never ending hill is), I stopped at the pit where the lady who makes the orange signs was, and begged for water. She very graciously gave me water and gatoraide!! Thank you so much!! I continued on...
I stopped at the top of the hill on Pinecombe Express to stretch my back again. Then I continued on..
I passed the pit...on to the transition area. I checked the results. I may have had just enough time to get another lap in (I was moving so slowly at this point)...but I would not have caught third place. Yes I was still in fourth. In the interest of not doing long term damage to my back; I called it quits, I turned in my timing chip.
Fifteen laps, fourth place, not what I wanted, but not so bad.
How did others do??
Giant finished second in his category (solo male age 40 -49), with 20 whopping laps!! That is just F'n amazing!!! So impressed!!
SinglespeedSarah finished 1st in solo female with 19 laps (yes on a singlespeed...unbelievable!!), Juliette of Team R&R finished 3rd with 14 laps. VV (R&R) finished 5th with 13 laps. Well done!!
EnglishJim's team (4 good riders and one shitty one....yes that is what Jim named his team!!)...bounced between 1st and 5th during the entire race, but ended up with third place in the Five Person Team age 200-249 category. Nice!! Bronze medals for the boys in the BicycleWorks jerseys!
And the Rock & Road team destroyed their field in the Five Person Team age 150 - 199 category with 27 laps to take 1st place!!!
This is what a gold medal and winners jersey look like (thanks for the pic misconceptionz!).
So another race in the books. I will do it solo again next year. I can do better. With some adjustments to core workouts over the winter, and some adjustments to my bike set-up I think I can deal with the back issues, and compete better. Let's see how it goes.
A huge thank you to the Rock & Road race team for their help in assisting me to survive this thing.
A huge thank you to MattyTee for his work, for 24 hours straight!! You make a Dad proud!! (Don't worry, hopefully you won't be pushing my wheels for a few years yet). What an awesome Father's Day!!
In the meantime, I need to get to ApexRacePhotography site to download some pics for next weeks post....and there is another O'Cup race to get ready for.