Challenging the BURN 24, singlespeed style
So, in 2007, I made the BURN 24 hour one of my 'A' races of the year. I was going to go back to crush it...on my singlespeed no less. Everything was in place..I was feeling good thanks to excellent coaching by Eddie O'Dea, and my new Vassago Jabberwocky that fits like a glove. I wasn't nervous, I didn't even know who I would be racing, but my goal was 24 laps on the 6.5 mile course. The course is "good" for singlespeeding, as it has very little flat sections. It's really either UP or DOWN. The climbs are really nice, and the downhills are a blast..sometimes so fast they are scary fun.
I won't bore you with the lap-by-lap breakdown, but here are some of the highlights:
Lemans start: Holy crap that run was long. Nothing else to say about it...it was just long, hot, and long.
Lap 1: Quite a back-up on the trail, lots of people slowing, dabbing, not as bad as at 12 hours of Razorback but still slightly annoying. Oh well, I should have run faster (even though there is no way I could have).
Lap 2: Reba fork stops working, it feels rigid, can't tell the difference between the fork being locked out and open. My first thought was DAMN..why didn't I just use the White Brothers fork! Kicking myself!
Lap 4 or 5: Figure out after playing with shock air pressures, that it must be a rebound problem. Rebound was set to fastest, but the fork was not coming back up.
I began to just leave the fork locked out. For the most part, it wasn't bad, but the rooty descents and the really fast sections with stutterbumps were killing my forearms, elbows, and hands. I hadn't planned on riding rigid!
Sometime at night: Eddie scored some lighterweight fork oil, and Mark Hendershot's mechanic from Paceline Bicycles in Winston Salem agreed to rebuild my fork to hopefully fix the issue, but I understood that nothing was guaranteed. I waited until I had a 2 lap lead on 2nd place to stop because I knew this would take some time. Sure enough, I sat in Hendershot's pit while the expert went to work. I lost tons of time here, but it was fun to hang with Eddie, Lisa Rolf, Roberta in the meantime. I lost a big part of my lead, but I was still about a lap up on 2nd.
The fork worked well for awhile, but it began to feel rough again after a few laps. I was frustrated, but there was nothing I could do except suck it up and deal with it. The low point of my night was when I really thought it was 5:00 am, but in reality it was 1:30 am. How the hell did that happen?!?! I was really depressed after I figured this out. It really was going to be a long night. Sometime around 2 or 3 am, maybe, I made the mistake of eating a peanut butter Powerbar, when I need to stay away from peanuts while I'm racing. I spent the next hour freaking out that I was having an allergic reaction. I spent about 30 minutes on the side of the trail debating what to do with myself..I didn't have my epipen with me. I decided to walk/ride to the mid-way SAG stop on the course, where I sat there and sipped Gatorade for about 30 minutes until Jen (2nd place solo female) arrived. I was still one lap up on her at this point, but decided it was time to start riding again. Having her to ride with was good motivation. This is when I realized that all this fatigue crap was all in my head..I just needed a little motivation!
While my stomach was not feeling 100%, my legs seemed to be doing fine. I was still riding everything except dabbing or walking the short switchback section that was now taking too much energy. I could climb anything as long as it was straight, but the steeper switchbacks were wearing on me.
Sunrise couldn't come soon enough, but when it did, I felt the energy. That has got to be the best feeling in a 24 hour race...a total sense of renewed energy...sunlight...everyone is smiling, and saying "good morning". I love that.
OK, so that energy didn't last for too long. I started to slack off on my eating and drinking because of the bad heartburn I'd been having. This took a toll on my riding and my attitude. My goal had been 24 laps, and I could still make this happen with the hours left..but I just wanted to stop. Jennifer kept riding though, which forced me to keep at it. Looking back, I'm so glad...I wish I had the mental fortitude at that point to just block everything out and go for my goal of 24..but I finished with 22 laps at 11am. It was good enough to secure 1st place, so at that point that seemed good enough for me. So, I still have a little work to do on the mental side..but don't we all.
I was all in all very pleased with my race, and extremely impressed with another first class event directed by Eddie O'Dea. Thanks to all the sponsors of the race--there were some killer prizes there!! And, of course, thanks to my personal sponsors as well: Vassago Cycles - 55nine Performance - Twin Six - Tifosi Optics - Bike29.com - WTB - White Brothers - Industry Nine - Defeet - PowerBar - Ergon - Wicked Fast Sports Nutrition - Dr. Josh Glass - Collette Ragan massage - Coach Eddie O'Dea. Also thanks to Scott Hodge from Addictive Cycles for the last minute work on my bike before the race, and, thanks again to the best pit crew I have ever had, Lisa Rolf. You are the best! Way to go Jennifer Dilworth, with 21 laps!
One more thing, check the podcast thanks to Joe Polk from mtbcast.com --I have a pre and post race interview on there. Here are some links to race photos:
The solo prize was $250 cash thanks to 55nine Performance plus some other goodies from BURN, Thomson, and Twin Six. I was also lucky enough to score a kiss from the race director..SWEET! :)