Monday, July 12, 2010
That's right, if you can strike fear into your competitors' hearts, strike it there on the shaft of a flaming crossbow bolt, then you've got an advantage before you even leave the start line.
But the intimidation wasn't something I was counting on. Clearly, when I signed our 5-person co-ed team up on BikeReg.com, the competition knew. They knew, and they were scared. So scared in fact, that they just didn't show up. But we did.
That's right, sometimes you win, just for showing up.
And, as the only 5-person co-ed team, I can, with some conviction, say that we raced the 24hr race solo. I'll leave it at that.
And now on to the fun stuff.
Our 5-person team consisted of Jean, Jamie, Tom, Rick, and myself. Also, Rob and Renee were each racing 12hr solo, and Pete was racing 6hr solo. All in all, it was great to be up there with everyone.
The course was about 5-miles long with a bit more than 800ft of climbing per lap. I pre-rode the course a couple of weeks ago and HATED it. I changed my mind at the race, but I'm getting ahead of myself. We drew numbers to figure out who went in which order.
I typically ride a fully rigid singlespeed, but for this course, I converted one of my bikes into a 1x9 with front suspension. Not so much for the gears, but definitely for the front suspension. With virtually no flat sections, the only time you can catch your breath is on the downhills, and they're rough enough that with a rigid fork, you're getting a beating (mad props to Rob for riding that way for 12hrs).
I figured I'd do two laps to give some other people some rest. And, again, since we had already sewn up the 2010 Pat's Peak 24hr 5-Person Co-Ed Team Championship, we really could catch some shut eye at any time. I figured I'd get some night laps in, then Rick, then we'd see where we were time-wise.
I started up the trail and was having fun. My new light was VERY bright, and at times, too bright, as the reflection was sometimes disorienting, from the wet rocks and the fog. Anyway, I was having a good old time until I realized that my steering was way off. I looked down to see my handlebar cocked to the side--my stem was super loose. How did that happen? I figured that one of the other 5-person team members that didn't show up had hidden in the woods and sabotaged my bike. After what seemed like an eternity, I dug my multitool out of my pack and tightened the offending bolts. Steering was much more precise after that.
When I hit the top of the mountain I was rewarded with an amazing sunset. I really, really wish I had brought my camera, but I was dumping water on my head every few minutes because of the heat, and water & electronics don't mix so well. Anyway, the sky was beautiful and the distant mountain ranges were shrouded in mist and fog--it was totally reminiscent of the Smoky Mountains. Absolutely stunning.
I finally rolled in and then Rick went out for his virgin night-ride.
While Rick was battling the rocks and the dark, I took my chain apart so I could get the wheel off, then removed the rear cassette so I could get the chain out, then took the derailleur off so I could bend the hanger back, then put it all back together. Oy!
It was midnight, Pete was already home with this family, Rob and Renee were done with their race and off to some well earned sleep. And we, well, decided to make strategic decision to suspend some laps until the morning.
Everyone rolled back to their tents, except for Rick who guarded our tech site (i.e., he slept in his truck).
The next thing I remember was Jamie taking the team baton from the entrance of my tent to head out for our first morning lap. Then, I distinctly remember thinking that I should get up so I can take the next lap. Apparently, that thought lasted almost an hour because I fell back asleep. Fortunately, Tom was on hand to take the next lap, then Jamie & Tom each did another lap after that. Jean and Rick decided to chill, so I decided to do another double lap, bringing us to the end of the race. To add to the mix though, a regular cross country mountain bike race was going on on the same course on Sunday, so at times, the course could have some congestion.
I was having a great lap, and really worked the climbs. I was probably going to have a personal best lap time when I came across a rider down. He had apparently taken a header down one of the short steep downhill rocky sections. He was awake, alert, oriented, breathing, and he had his brother and a few other people already on hand. The summer version of the "Ski Patrol" had been mobilized and were on their way. Everything seemed okay, so after a few minutes, I decided to keep going.
For my next lap, I had about 1:45 minutes, because I didn't want to finish before 12:00noon--that would force another lap. I had time to stop for a cup of coffee (in retrospect, not the best idea), and then just totally took my time. I was chatting with some of the other cross country racers (not 24hr racers), and they just didn't seem to be having as much fun. Weird.
Still well ahead of schedule, I rolled past our campsite which was being expertly broken down. I hung out and chatted for a bit and then rolled back through to again wait just in front of the finish area.
So there it was. We were done. We "won." We had a great time, not only racing but also cheering the other racers on. It was time to pack up, clean up, refuel, get our hardware (i.e. medals) and head home.
And now, I've got a mountain of laundry to wash, camping gear to air out and sore muscles to rest.
Hopefully, you'll soon hear some other perspectives from Rob, Renee, Jamie, Rick, Tom, Jean and Pete...