Monday, July 31, 2006
Tired & Beat Up
Sitting at the computer before 6am on the morning after the 24 Hour Nationals is not what I had wanted to be doing. My post race sleep dilemma continues as I maybe got three good hours of sleep before waking up around 3am and being very uncomfortable in bed. Every year this happens and for the next two days I'll look like I've been run over by a few trains(which did happen courtesy of Chris Eatough and Nat Ross).
I'll have to admit that for having raced a lot over the last twenty years, this event made me the most nervous the two days leading up to it. Saturday morning started with a massive storm front with high winds and rain. Once at 9-mile County Forest everything went well getting the pit set up along the course until I picked up my race packet which contained the number "1" plate from being the defending solo champion from 2005 at 24-9. Having this number and the attention from it caused the pre-race nerves to get really bad. It was only a number plate, but it made me not feel worthy of it with 6-time world champion Chris Eatough and the defending national champ Cameron Chambers standing on the starting line with me.
Once the race started and I survived the Le Mans run to my bike. The first lap went by pretty smoothly after being surprised by the course changes from my pre-ride the week before. The course was wet with water standing from the storms during the night, and by the second lap it had mostly dried up. Everything seemed fine until I wasn't able to really eat or drink anything of nutritional value while getting sick at least three times in the first eight hours and my head felt as though it was going to blow off. It was tough only being able to only spin at a slow speed as I watched racer after racer fly pass me while feeling like I was dead in the water. Around 6pm I had decided that I had more than enough of this suffering after two good crashes on top of the heat and lack keeping any large amounts of food in my stomach. What happened next was a miracle, as a group of five or more of my co-workers showed up with signs and cowbells to cheer me on and at that point I realized that I had worked too hard for the last eight months to throw in the towel and quit. I didn't feel good right away, but Steve Elmer, my trusted friend with a background that includes interning at CTS, the Olympic training center, and now with Gatorade out in Salt Lake, slowly brought me back to life as I chugged out laps and started passing racers again. With my brother Mark, Pete Esser from Specialized, Fred Esser, Scott our head mechanic from work and my wife, I had the best support team(even if they never told me what place I was in until sunrise since I had been as low as 25th place at the beginng of the race when I had my problems)that would eventually get me to the finish even though I still had a few issues. Once I started feeling somewhat better with most of the stomach issues behind, my left knee started bothering me enough that all I could do was spin at a high cadence on the climbs and standing wasn't even an option while climbing as the pain would get worse. As I looked forward to the sunrise I started calculating out how many laps were still possible when the worst storm I've ever been on a mountain bike in hit with a massive downpour, lightning and strong winds. I barely made it to the first checkpoint on the course as both of my lights stopped working in the rain. The race was stopped for safety reasons until 6:45am when it was officially started again. After the restart I was in the process of being close to finishing my 16th lap when course official stop myself and another rider telling us that the race had been officially stopped because another storm front was approaching.
Yes, I was glad to be finished, but dissappointed about the results ruling which was based on how many laps we had a 5:30am when the first storm hit and the race was red flagged. I officially was scored with 14 laps in the 19.5 hours of racing that was used to determine the final places. The second storm never did hit with the rain continuing to fall as the clock neared the 24 hour mark. Overall, I'm happy to have finished and placed in the top ten at the NORBA 24 Hour National Championships. Maybe next year will be better as Wausau and 9-Mile will host the race again. Thanks to all my sponsors and especially to Katie at Rudy Rack for being awesome this season with the support they've given me. That's racing...