So it has been a long time, the wizard of pain has come and left. Hmmm, so in order to stop being harassed, here is your recap.
The 24 Hours of Afton/Salsa Fest was not on my radar this year. I had no plans to race it, much less solo. An e-mail in early July set my mind in motion and I decided to do it again. Now leading up to the race my mind was not in full "Rocky Prep" mode. Long rides were neglected, and things like the Thursday night Buck races and Tuesday night Rochester TT's were put on the front burner.
A quick note about the course. It is about 7.5 miles long and over 1,000 feet of climbing per lap (I am not sure exactly, but I think it may be over 1,100 ft). On this course you are typically grinding up a steep long climb, or flying down one. This course has about the same climbing as Moab, but in half the distance.
Set up went fine the day of and I found a lot of heavy hitters. Those that I knew of for sure were Dan Dittmer (3 time winner), Cody Larson (3rd overall in MN series in Elite), and Chris Schotz (several time WI Endurance Mtn bike series winner). My plan was to ride the first lap like I would ride the later laps. The granny gear was used liberally on the first lap. Although I was most definitely not worried about it, I think I held the lead for the first several hours. Chris seemed determined to sit on my wheel for as long as he deemed necessary.
The temps that day were very high. Add in the fact that most of the climbing is done in the open and you have a hot time on the bike. This ended up taking its toll on most people as I soon saw Chris and Dan in the pits looking for relief. I too would stop with heat and nausea problems for a little bit, but I figured I would just walk climbs if needed. The theory was that at least I was still moving forward. Cody would take the lead at this point with Ben Popp (unknown to me, but a very accomplished endurance racer, including RAAM) in second. I would roll for a long while in third, I think.
Night time came and the cooler temps were much appreciated. I started to stop for shorter times and felt better and better after suffering in the heat. The cramp pings stopped and I always love riding at night. Somewhere around 2ish in the morning I would head out for a lap telling Mark (Super Pit Crew) that the witching hour was upon us and things can always fall apart for people. Well, I didn't think that would be me as I felt pretty decent. At this point I was told that I sat in 2nd with Cody about 10 minutes up on me. Ben was about 30 minutes behind me.
I was close to half way through the course when Chris Fisher would pass me, helping his team in their domination. We exchanged a few words and he was on his way. At the same time I was thinking about how I was really going to have to stop at the pits and get some food in me, calories were needed and the gel was not going down well. I was not worried as I had this happen several times already and was able to ride out the lap fine. Right then my light prematurely died on me. My back up light (small 3 led camping light) batteries were "luckily" almost dead and reverted to an emergency mode. I had about as much light as you would see with a bic lighter, if that.
So as I very slowly fumbled through the dark with hunger pains setting in I hoped to come across another rider. Finally another rider came by and I latched on. Well, I latched on up until I crashed really hard into the hillside. I sat there hungry, tired, and determined just to get back to the pits. Back on the bike I found myself on the bottom of "manhandler", which I would walk for the first time, slowly; very slowly.
Somehow I made it back to the pit, and with the desire to eat a greasy burger. Well, my food variety sucked. Mark lent me his pasta salad that I nibbled on, and then I scavenged the Trekvelolag camp for food. My stomach was in extreme pain, extreme hunger, and heavy nausea. More pasta salad would be consumed one bite at a time with a long pause to allow the stomach to settle. I was in need of calories, but could hardly eat.
That essentially is how the race ended. I couldn't eat enough to safely get back on the bike (mental note, lots of cooked bacon would have been perfect). I am pretty sure I was dehydrated and that contributed to the problem. So, I spent about 17 hours on the course. Usually after a race like this the next couple of days are spent consuming everything in site to help the body resupply and recover. Well, my stomach was so messed up that I could not eat a full meal for almost 3 days. Needless to say my recovery has been slow even though only my stomach and sleep seemed to be really effected by the race. The legs/back were not that bad off.
Congrats to Cody for taking a well deserved win, Ben for toughing it out on a 26" hardtail for 2nd, Jeff for being consistent to take 3rd, Dan for rallying to pass me for fourth, and the rest of the riders. My laps gave me 5th place for the day. My Superfly 100 was perfect that day.
So there is you're recap.
Get ready for tomorrow. I had an e-mail conversation with Paul B. that is sure not to disappoint. Letter to Paul B. part 2 to come.
I was raised in the "hood", self-taught to survive on scraps of old inner tubes and changing bike tires with my teeth. Life is a struggle for me not to be another statistic that so many become after being raised in a caucasion middle class family. I now am a husband, bike mechanic, land lord, stay at home dad, and wannabe mountain bike racer.