Needing some personal inspiration for training, I pulled up an old race report from last years 24hr Big Bear race. Since now I have this blog thing I though I would share with whom ever is out there. This type of motivation can go a long way.
June 18-19, 2005
Big Bear Campground, Hazelton WV
24 hours of Big Bear (Granny Gear)
It has been a slow season thus far with a sideline injury for a couple of months this spring, and not being able to race the two pre-season 12 hour races originally planned, put a damper on the beginning of the season. Thursday, June 16th we headed up to Big Bear, West Virginia which was surprisingly only a 7 hour drive from Columbia.
On Friday (E&I) went to the race site, and I was able to reconnect with an old friend, Cameron Chambers from Great Bend Kansas that I first met in British Columbia for the Worlds and have since kept in touch. We pre-rode the course together and noticed that there were plenty of slick rock gardens, slow grinding climbs (1630'+ climbing per lap) and high speed descents on the 12.19 mile course. In addition to the challenging course there were several pro riders registered for the solo division including: Cameron Chambers (Gary Fisher/Subaru) who recently won the 24 hour National Solo Championships, Mark Hendershot (Santa Cruz/Syndicate) and last years winner and local rider Ernesto Marenchin (SpeedGoat/Asylum). These three riders finished in the top ten at the 2004 World Solo Championships. Along with a handful of other riders that were also World Solo Qualifiers like Jonathon Kinding and Steve Schwartz, the competition was going to be tough, but a real chance to prove myself.
Calmly lining up for the start, ready for another 24hr. beat down. Ready or not it's time to run. The opening LeMans run (sprint) is never a favorite of any rider, especially in carbon fiber sole shoes. I lost about five minutes on the first lap getting stuck behind the overzealous team riders bottle necking at the start of the single track. I was able to elbow my way through some team riders and passed about 30 more on the trail. Running on pure adrenaline and way above my lactate threshold, I managed to make my way up to around 25th overall by the end of lap one. Ten minutes off the solo pace, I began to settle into my own pace and prepare for a long day and night in the saddle.
With the race briskly under way, the next task was to get fluids and calories down and keep the tank topped off. The opening laps were taking around ~1:30 to complete. The bottles of Accelerade were only lasting about :30 min. I should have communicated this to Erin (pit crew/wife) earlier; but caught up in the race I failed to. I was stopping midway during the laps at the hydration tents to refill my bottles. Most 24 hour races have 45 to 60 minute lap times, but since this loop was longer and more technical than other races I have done in the past I needed to carry twice the amount of fluids & food with me, which is something we learned after a few laps. Grabbing up calories and additional fluids at the start of every lap would be my saving grace. This was actually one of the first races I was able to eat and drink the whole race, without feeling sick, but some other riders were not as lucky.
There is no way to fully prepare yourself for the night laps at a 24hr. race, but this is when I am usually able to make up time on the rest of the field. I was using NiteRider lights on my helmet and handlebar. Luckily Mark Roberts let me borrow his helmet light and I was greatly appreciative, without it we would have had trouble keeping enough batteries charged to make it all the way through the night hours. I moved up from 6th place to 4th place overnight with only one 27 minute break to change my wet clothing I was able to gain a good bit of time on the rest of the field. I had one trip over the handlebars at about 2 a.m. and got an up-close look at West Virginia’s soil composition. Fatigue was starting to settle in, especially in my hands and back, so I slowed the pace a little bit to prevent any injuries, and decided to just keep to forward momentum.
The sunrise is always a welcome event in a 24hr. race. I was so happy it was up; although I unconsciously decided to take a quick cat nap while riding. Yeah this is a real talent I have not mastered. Quickly realizing I was fading I had to snap back into it. There were only 6 more hours to go. Stopping for a brief moment to scarf down a greasy blueberry muffin and a red bull for breakfast, I was feeling much better. I began to fill a bit rejuvenated and tried to hold the wheels of passing team riders for some pick ups in my pace. This helped me lap some other solo riders, which would give me a little assurance for the closing hours of the race.
Upon completion of my 11th lap, Erin informed me that Chambers and Hendershot had decided not to complete any more laps. This would put me in third if I would complete two more laps with out getting passed by another solo rider - sounds simple. With my overall goal of standing on the podium in my grasp I had to go for it, so with more food and calories I was back out on course. Trying to hold pace as best as I could. If you can't ride it - walk it, just keep moving - this was my motto for the last four hours. On the last lap the top four places wound up joining up together out on the trail all separated by a lap per position. So the final positions had been set in stone, but we all had to still finish the course. It was evident that the terrain and sheer mileage of the last 24 hours had taken a toll on all of us. We all were reduced to walking and cursing every hill the trail had left to throw at us. It was finally over - 3rd place, 13 laps, 160 mi. with 22,000' climbing for the completion of my 9th 24 hour solo mountain bike race.
I would like to thank all the folks who helped me throughout the race and before the race ever started. With non stop support from family and friends alike. For my sponsors Harrell's Bicycle World, Raleigh Bicycles, and The Tack Room - THANKS for believing in me. Until next time, it's time for some rest.