This one is going to take a little bit to recover from, where to start. Awww maybe when I woke up to what else? Rain. Not a great way to get one energetic about abusing the body for more than a few hours. My thoughts of packing the cross bike and beer were starting to look like a great idea. I was concerned.
Except for the excessive amounts of cop cars on the highway doing their best to stop and protesting drivers and making me drive semi-responsible was at Albion with plenty of time to do the meet and greet, the camp setup etc etc. For the first time ever I happened to be down at the captains meeting. I don't think I've been to one now in 6-7 years, glad I was though when it was announced that the start would be delayed by an hour. Gave the updated info to those I like, know, not competing against. This did include Tristan who was looking very nervous before the race. Mr. Spurr was doing the lead out lap, for me I toured around on the cross bike trying to get my legs working and making many jealous. Many a comments were made, after last year the answer was obvious. Half an hour later we adjusted again for the 2nd delay of start. All hell breaking loose would begin at 2pm no matter what.
That is exactly what happened, the rain stopped, the countdown began and they were off. As expected Mr. Watson came through first, what was amazing but yet slightly bad was the join up of the Shake'n'Bake twins as Jacob came through the timing with Tristan right behind him 5th and 6th. This was great for a build up but my concern for him going to hard off the line were there. It's a long race. He continued for the 2nd lap, I switched up bikes back to my Anthem and counted down till my first stint of 2 laps. Tristan's power down session gave us almost a 15 minute lead. My turn to play, sorta. Headed out and the legs were a little blah. The fact that I started climbing almost immediately didn't help. The mud added to the fun. My weak attempt at warming up was felt but kept on the gas. The first lap hurt, the second felt better. That diesel powered engine kicked in.
My thoughts on the race course at this point, the first 3-4km leading to the sugar shack sucked. Not that the trails sucked, they were awesome but the baby crap type mud that just sucks the life out of legs was not enjoyable. I'm the first to say that I can't ride power, or have the power to muscle through that stuff, have you seen those skinny things I stand on?? That section of mud at the sugar shack smelt bad also!!! From that point on it became a course was amazing. Traction came back, running dry tires was a risk but it's a tire setup I'm used to.
Things continued along rotating every 2 laps, T slowed a little and I started to get faster. This was to be expected though. It balanced out though and we continued to put more time into the other teams, we had a very comfortable lead as we started into the night. Tristan came in from his lap and we did a couple strategy idea talks. Me and my over analyzing brain. We stayed with double laps for now. I was starting to really get into a grove though as the course began to suit me more and more with the return of traction. I was having fun out there and didn't want to get off the bike. The night laps were very interesting though. because of the humidity in the air there was this haze that made it almost harder to see with bright lights. I ran my Exposure Maxx D on the bar 700 lumens on full and a Joystick which at 240 lumens was perfect.
One thing that changed for me at this race was my ability to stay vertical. I consider myself a pretty strong bike handler but this weekend that seemed to not be the case. I think the total time on the ground added up to at least 10. There was one root that took me out twice, my chainsaw and that root may have a conversation on a later date. I have the bruises to show. I did get to ride with a few different people through out the night, chatting about everything and anything. It was a rare time that the night didn't seem lonely.
I need to back track a few hours though, for some reason there were random fighter jets buzzing the ground. Yes there was some big political hoopla happening about 60km to the south but these jets were flying so close and in such a pattern that I was waiting for either the pine trees, which I was currently in while this was happening, were either going to be shredded with bullets or napalm. I never actually saw the planes but I felt them everytime. I was concerned that they thought that the largest 24 hour race in North America was turning into a protest against mother nature and they would just take a few out to keep us under control.
Back to the action, Tristan was not feeling to hot after his night laps and when he went out at 5:30 am he was not very impressed. He pushed through his first lap as I tried to get ready for the next session. We had a 2 lap lead on 2nd place at this point, T pushed around for one more lap before saying he was done. This left us roughly 4 hours of racing left. Looks like Heather was going to get me to do that one long session on the bike. My legs were sore, I opted to were my nice new compression leggings hoping that they would give me the extra strength I would need. because they are not designed to ride in I loaded up the back of my knee was chamois butter hoping it would help prevent any freaky looking rash.
The next two laps were ok but my body was getting made at me. With maybe 20-30 minutes of sleep and 10 plus crashes I was feeling the pain. The legs were weak going up the hills, the hands were the worst part, some bruising on the palms. I was tired and trashed but there was still time that needed to be spent out on the trail. One more lap meant we would still no matter what finish with a 2 lap lead. I was good with this Tristan was pretty content to not get out of the chair he was sitting in. I headed through the timing tent. Last lap worked out great. Hooked up with Erik Box of cyclocross fame and we rode the last lap together with the mentality of going slow enough to not feel like we had to do one more after that. Unfortunately we can only go so slow which really isn't all that slow at all. As we got closer to the end I had a simple reminder on why I was done after this lap. I started to cramp in my left hamstring. I don't cramp, or at least not very often. This hurt a little. Managed to control it and opted to walk the last long muddy climb. Done finished with 21 laps. Tristan with 10 and one of the fast laps of the race and me with 11. 2 laps ahead of 2nd place.
There was an interesting moment that happened out on the course in the early morning. On a big double track section that was really wide I came up on a group of riders in a single file and as I passed them way over to the left on the grass section I hear a guy make a comment to me. He says" you need to call out every pass" I responded with " Are you serious" He said didn't you go to the team meeting" I responded with " I've been doing these for a long time, I know the rules but come on. " Now what I wanted to say was "If I called out every pass, especially on big wide double track, I would never shut up. I barely stop talking as it is now!!" The woman that was in that group pulled out and passed this guy also and she was giggling as she did it. I don't want to sound like an ass but I thought it was funny.
So my thoughts on the race overall. I think the boys from Chico Racing yet again did the most amazing job with everything. They battled Mother Nature and came out with their heads up high and had everyone their happy. Again a huge thank you to my Mom and Aunt Ruth who yet again pulled off an amazing support crew keeping Tristan and I on track. Couldn't do one of these races with out them. Also huge thank you to Tristan, you rode hard, you suffered hard, I must remind you that this was your idea!!
I'll probably have more thoughts on the race over the next few days, right now I need to eat, lots!!!!