Monday, June 27, 2005

Cowbell Challenge 12 hour

I just finished the Southern Lights 24 hour race two weeks ago, and took the next two weeks off my mountain bike. I spent plenty of time riding my road bike in between, but didn't even look at the Blur. Well, we were going to leave for the Cowbell Challenge 12 hour on Friday, so on Thursday I took my bike over to my friend Mark's place (he was going to replace the drivetrain for me). There I discovered a broken spoke and a messed up rear hub and rear derailleur. After three hours of running around to local shops in panic, Mark was able to replace everything but was not able to fix my rear wheel. He let me borrow an old heavy wheel of his, now taking my 27 lb. bike up to probably 28 lb. I wasn't thrilled, but I figured I probably wouldn't notice the extra pound on the tank. At least I would be able to race.

We got a late start on Friday night and didn't arrive in Charlotte until after 12:30am. The race started at 9am, so we set the alarm for 6am and hit the sack. 6am came early, but I was ready to go. My goal for this race was not to win, but was to try out a new nutritional strategy as I always have eating, drinking, and bonking problems during long races. I wanted to get in 12 laps at least, and 13 if things were going really well. Having never ridden the course, I had no idea what to expect. Also, the course had been shortened by several miles from the past year, so I had no lap times to compare against. We arrived at 7:45 am, barely enough time to meet our support crew (Paige and Paige), register, and get dressed. We started with a short run up the hill to the bikes. I was in no rush here, and was close to last into the woods. My first lap was going to be my pre-ride, so I took it slow as molasses. The trail was really nice, lots of fun stuff, nice downhills, but some climbs that would prove to be killer as the day went on. I pitted after my 2nd lap, and decided that I would come in every 2 laps. That strategy lasted about 4 laps, and that's when my back really started hurting. I took 2 advil every 2 hours for the next 3 hours, and my back pains still got worse. It was worse than a "normal" knife in the back soreness that I get sometimes. I dropped into my granny gears and slowed my pace on the climbs, it just hurt too bad to push bigger gears. After 5 laps I asked Taylor (RD) if there was ANY way I could transfer to the 6 hour solo category, from the 12 hour. Of course, he said no way. I tried to rationalize with him that I wouldn't win the 6 hour anyway, so it shouldn't matter. He told me I could quit/DNF, just take a long break and finish up at 8pm, or keep riding. Of course, since he put it that way, my only option was to keep riding. I was still on track to do my 12 laps at least, so I reluctantly headed back out. At that point, I started coming into the pits after each lap. Devin (the racer that Paige and Paige were supporting) broke his frame after lap 7, so they all hit the road. Eddie and I were left on our own for self-support. The worst part of this was that I had no one to make me leave the pits, so I just sat there and wasted time. The longer pit times ruined my plan of doing 12-13 laps, but I didn't care at that point. Clifford and Lisa from Atlanta stopped by and it was really great to see a familiar face. Clifford mentioned to me that my fork was not right...I had noticed that it had been spewing oil rapidly...not good. And, the rear wheel that I had borrowed was in sad shape too. Well, I figured I might as well go back out...not knowing whether my bike was going to make it, or if I was going to make it. I had to start walking some of the steep uphills, hoping that it would make my back feel better, but no such luck. Before my last lap, I finally ditched my camelback (WHY hadn't I done this sooner?!?) and took 2 Aleve. I grabbed a bottle of plain water and headed out. I started out at a moderate pace, knowing that there was no rush as I had to finish my last lap after 8pm...I didn't want to go back out for another. Then I realized that the Aleve seemed to be kicking in, and that in combination with knowing it was my last lap, and not carrying around an 9 lb. camelback on my back, I felt pretty darn good. I picked up my pace and rode as hard as I could, with my goal being to ride everything on that lap...all the hills and all the obstacles. And, that, I did. I think my last lap turned out to be my fastest. I was pretty pleased with that...and caught up to the rest of the riders waiting at the top of the hill for 8pm. At 8pm we all rode down and called it a day. The results were really screwy, and they had several disputes. I couldn't even make sense of them. But an hour later, the awards were announced, and to my surprise, my decision to keep riding squeaked me into 3rd place for the solo women. I had thought I'd done 10 laps, but I actually did 11. It was too easy to lose count, as they were not posting results immediately, or at even all. I didn't have a support crew keeping track of lap and pit times and numbers either, so in any case, I was pleased with the result of my long day. Eddie rode an impressive 20 laps, and had two 30 minute laps towards the end, after someone told him that he was in 2nd place (which, of course, was a mistake...he had been in the lead comfortably, all day). Anyway, I'm really proud of him too, as he was just coming off the Southern Lights 24 hour as well. I was really glad to have him out there, even though he passed me way too many times :)

Thanks to BURN Energy Drinks for the race entry, Paige and Paige for willingly supporting Eddie and me, Clifford and Lisa for coming by for support.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Southern Lights 24 Hour

We arrived Friday evening and set up camp. Dan O and Jimmy met us there and Eddie cooked up an awesome pre-race dinner. I wasn’t really nervous for the race, which was surprising because I usually get nervous for everything. I felt good, though, and I knew I was well rested and hydrated. I was hoping the tropical storm would stay away for the weekend, but I also knew better. It was early to bed, and early to rise Saturday morning. Charlie Martin from Cartecay Bikes and Richard Walker (Support Crew Leader) arrived Saturday morning. No wonder Eddie wins and podiums at so many races, he has the most fantastic support crew ever!!! I was feeling very lucky that they were going to help me out too. The race started with a parade lap on the bikes, no run thank goodness! I started out towards the back of the pack as I wanted to let all the team riders get in front of me. I didn’t want to start out hard, so I just stayed relaxed and rode out my first lap..and it was great! I don’t think I have ever felt better at the start of a race. I cleaned everything on that first lap, even a couple tricky sections that slowed me down during my pre-ride. Everything was pretty uneventful until the third lap when I dropped my chain and it wrapped up behind my cassette everywhere it should not have been. I tried and tried to yank it out, and there was no hope. Peter Rajcani and Andrew Gilchrest both stopped and tried to help me, but nothing. I had to carry my bike out back to the pit and have Charlie look at it. Luckily he was able to fix it, but I had lost at least 45 mins to an hour by the time I started riding again where I had left off. I was pretty bummed, knowing I had dropped at least 3 places at that point. I was also worn out from hiking my bike out and through all that I realized I had not been eating or drinking, and it had been over 3 hours since the race had started. Lap 3 was not fun..I had little energy, and my stomach was growling. Luckily the sun was not out in full force otherwise I might have passed out. I started concentrating more on getting in some fluid and calories, and started to feel a little better, although my upset stomach and heartburn never went away for the rest of the race. The rain held off until about 1am, and then the skies let loose. It was a matter of minutes before the rain transformed the trail into peanut butter. The trail is tight, twisty, and rooty, with some rather technical descents, and the rain sure brought all that out. I rode carefully, and steadily through the night, and faired pretty well. I caught up with Jen Wills early in the morning when the trail was a total mess. We slowly rode/hiked a lap together, thanks for the company Jen! Chain suck was getting so bad at that point that I couldn’t ride up any hills, so my last lap (number 11) was quite a bit of hike-a-bike, which anyone who knows me knows I hate hike a bike more than anything. That lap was a good 2.5 hours long for me! I ended up finishing 3rd out of 7 solo women. Eddie won the solo male category with 17 laps. It was an incredibly fun and enjoyable first solo 24 experience. Congrats to all the folks that ended up on the podium…Eddie, Gary, Andrew, Kirsten, Kerry, Brint, Sherri, Norma and the rest of the Dirt Divas, Crew Zen, Brandon, Tracey, Mark and the rest of the BOD group…and congrats to Jen for finishing 4th in the solo females…it was her 1st 24 solo too, and she rocked and had a great attitude. Everyone that was out there racing, volunteering, or supporting deserves the same congratulations. I'm going to go enjoy my recovery now. Pictures HERE.