27 May 2012

24 Hours Round the Clock - day 2/2

Did I mention yesterday that it got cold at night…? Well it did. Reports from around the camp were that the temperatures hit the upper 30s. Brr!

After completing lap #3 last night I was still in a bit of an amped up state but by the start of lap #4 the initial adrenaline-fueled enthusiasm had abated and I was now needing to pump myself up. And it was pitch black! Holy cow was it dark. On the upside the stars in the sky were amazing (the moon was insignificant) and when it's truly dark your lights work so much better.

I kept hanging around the transition zone as they had erected a 'dismount bar' so riders wouldn't go zooming into the tent at warp speed and have some massive, tragic accident. Surprisingly I never say anyone get clotheslined by this bar…


Lap #4 was fun. It was dark and I slowed down perhaps more than I thought I would but it was still a blast. There were some rock gardens on the course that I was not feeling comfortable plowing through at the same speeds as I had during the day. It was also the case that the beam from my lights was reflecting off of the dust particles in the air and since there was a TON of dust at times it was like riding in super dense fog. There is a great descent right before the finish straight and on this lap I had to grab my brakes as there were three bikes in front of my throwing up dust. Damn.

Hanging out after lap #4 was the worst. It was cold, it was dark and we did not have a heat source or even a light source at our camp. That's another lesson learned. After changing out of my cycling clothes and eating something I jumped into my sleeping bag with all my clothes on and tried to nap.

At this point my brain was a bit foggy and so I had to triple check that my alarm was set properly. I kept doubting myself and wondering if I had two hours left or three. In the end I think I slept about 30 minutes and then I had to get back into my damp, COLD cycling clothes. Yuck.

As I was standing under the propane heater in the transition zone waiting for Aaron and our chip it started getting much lighter out. As 5:00 AM came and went I asked someone what time racers were allowed to remove their lights and when I heard "5" I immediately started tearing at Velcro straps and handing all my lights and batteries to Jesse. I got it all off just in time. Yes.

I rode lap #5 with a LOT of clothing. In an attempt to keep warm I put on an extra set of socks, knee and arm warmers, a heavier undershirt and my rain jacket(!). Let's just say I never got too hot and my hands got numb. Turns out lap #5 was my slowest! Even one minute slower than the one I rode in the middle of the night. I guess the cold took it out of me and I was probably getting tired.

And that bigger gear? Yep, it was getting kinda heavy on the climbs by this time. Whereas I had been able to stay in the saddle for part of every hill so far, this lap I had to stand pretty much all of every hill. Kind of a grunt.

The sun does wonders for your mood and for your body. By the time I finished lap #5 rays of light were hitting the campsite and it was warming up.

So far we had stuck to our rotation schedule which was me, Tony, Jesse and then Aaron. While Aaron was out on course on his 5th lap and I was still walking around in my non-cycling clothes Aaron rolls up and reports that one of the aid stations called in and reported that Jesse had suffered a mechanical and was walking his bike.

The rules stipulate that each rider has to finish their lap and that you can only transfer the timing chip to someone else in the transition zone. What to do? Turns out this aid station was not that far from the finish and there was a shortcut to get there so Aaron loaded up his pockets with tools and headed out while I started to get dressed. The plan was for Aaron to help Jesse with his mechanical so he could finish and then I would get on the bike earlier than normal.

It seemed like only a couple of minutes had passed when Jesse's girlfriend Lindsay walked up and said, "Jesse is waiting for you at the transition!" Shit, better hurry.

I grabbed my helmet, made sure I had something in my water bottle and swung my leg over the saddle and pedaled off to the start. Jesse handed me the chip and I was off.


ASIDE - I learned later that Jesse had broken his chain. Not having all the tools required to fix it he was reduced to walking down the trail. Turns out a solo rider stopped and let him use a chain tool and gave him a master link to repair his chain. How cool is that? Very, that was a rhetorical question. So Jesse was able to ride back to the start before Aaron even got out there to assist him.

Not surprisingly lap #6 was a little faster than #5. I was much warmer, in fact I took off my wind vest and arm warmers during the lap it got so nice. I was also a little inspired by Jesse's sudden appearance. Of course inspiration will only get you so far when you are beat down but still, it helped a little I think. :)

On this last lap I was blown away by the number of people that I passed. Where was all this traffic coming from? They were all so encouraging and nice and saying such positive things as I rolled by. I was duly impressed. And found myself returning all the well wishes.

Through out the race I noticed that on the flats and on the descents I would struggle to keep up or just plain get passed. But on the climbs I would reel people in, even some of the faster geared bikes. On this last lap I was using each climb as motivation to pass one or two more bikes and found myself pushing to summit just in front of others so that I could get the 'hole shot' to the next section of singletrack. It was fun.

I got to the top of that last climb just before the long descent to the finish right in front of three women and sprinted over the summit to give myself as much momentum on the descent as possible. And this time there was no one in front of me so no dust and the sun was out so I let it rip. I even got down into a tuck. :)

One woman, I think she was on the Cycle U PopCap team, did manage to catch me on the flats before the finish and came roaring past shouting, "HOP ON!" Right. Here you are in the biggest gear your bike has to offer and I'm supposed to catch your draft? I lasted maybe 50 m and then she rode away from me.

I handed off to Aaron and then I was done with lap #6!

And then we all started to look at our watches…

If Aaron was able to ride his lap in under one hour then we would be able to head out for one more lap. Jesse was toast. Tony was willing but had told me that he was totally empty after his last lap. I thought about it, thought about it some more and finally decided that we were done no matter when Aaron showed up. I think it was the right call. If we had been battling it out for a top-3 placing the motivation would have been there but as it was I would have had to put a time equal to my fastest lap just to have a chance at 12th place. Not gonna happen. And besides, our goal this weekend was just to have fun. So far that goal had been achieved so I didn't want to jeopardize it.

To his credit Aaron managed to post a sub 60-minute lap. I asked him and he said he just wanted to see if he still could. When he pulled up and we told him we were finished he was fine with the plan and we promptly posed for the group photo.


And since we hadn't stuffed enough food in our faces yet we also promptly got in line for the lunch provided by the race.


Good times! All of us would do this again. Huge thanks to Lindsay for coming along and helping our team fulfill the volunteer obligation. Here are some things I learned.

  • Make sure your camp has heat and light! Sounds obvious but it's stuff I never bring when I go camping but camping at a race is different. You want as many comforts and conveniences as possible. One team even had their own porta-potty!
  • Conditions really do change a lot in 24 hours so bring warmer gloves.
  • Who rides tires with inner tubes? Only idiots. Get tubeless tires and use sealant to avoid flats.
  • If you ride a single speed bike know that all courses are NOT equal and sometimes you might have need for a larger or smaller gear than what you normally use.
  • Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem makes a great recovery drink when you have to go out and ride again soon.
  • One gel just prior to every lap and one bottle on the bike was just right. Most laps I only drank half a bottle. Partly because there were only so many places where it was smooth enough to drink but also because I did not need much more. Each effort was just one hour.
  • I thought about warming up for each lap but the enthusiasm just wasn't there. And luckily I did not feel like the lack of warm-up hurt me.

Here are all the pictures.

Sleep Maybe 60 minutes total? I think I took two 30-minute naps.
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Workout Food on the bike - bottle w/1 tablet Nuun
off the bike - Perpetuem, Nuun, HEED, gel, various solid foods
Time of Day lap #4 - 12:30 AM
lap #5 - 5:00 AM
lap #6 - 8:45 AM
Workout Type race
Weather upper 30s to mid 60s, dry, partly cloudy, calm
Course 15-mile loop, mostly flat, hard trails. A few short climbs and descents the longest climb was maybe .5 miles.
Results 13th - 4 Person Open
official results
Equipment Mountain Bike
Clothing at night - double socks, knee warmers, bib shorts, Craft short sleeve undershirt, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, full finger gloves, rain coat, cap
during the day - bib shorts, Craft short sleeve undershirt, short sleeve jersey, full finger gloves, cap

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