This may be spread out over two days or more as so much happened. Some seemed like the normal 24 hour stuff, other things were so far from expected. Started out the Saturday morning waking up way to early, like usual, car was packed, bikes were loaded, rain was coming down. Was Mother Nature going to make life miserable for us? Hoping not, Driving down the rain continued, I also received first a text from my tag team partner, I won't repeat the words he used, then a phone call with more complaints about the weather. It's supposed to clear I promised him, I also mixed that in with some smack talk if he even considered bailing on me. Of course I knew it wasn't needed, Tristan always shows up, even if it's later than planned. I just hoped of better weather wasn't a lie.
Setup, warm up in the team kits, this included Brandon who was riding for a different club team, some strategy was talked about and it was just about go time. Our transition was at the top of the start climb, it gave me a chance to see the start for the first time. I'm used to being in it, what a great new perspective. Quickly made my way down to the bottom of the first single track, the leaders come through with Tristan in 5th I need to mention that there was a plan for Tristan and I, Brandon just joked around a little, who would have thought that it would benefit us. Tristan was supposed to pin in for the first half of the lap then back down just a little, good position etc. It was not planned to have Brandon come through this same section, slide, crash out a few and hold up roughly 300 people while T hammered away.
Things were good, For trade off had us with a 5 minute lead, I went out and did what I needed to do. The rain had stopped the course was drying up, it wasn't as fast as earlier in the week but still blasted out some solid laps and built on our lead. Things were good. Laps started adding up quickly, with the shorter course even double laps only added up to an hour and a half for most of Saturday. The highlight of Saturday for me? As I finished up my 4th lap, I came off the wood bridge near the finish just a little off the worn in line, caught some soft gravel and drifted out. I was safe as I slide into, wait wrong sport, my elbow and left forearm started to drip blood, a visit to the med tent was the next stop. Rookie turning mistake. The course started getting faster, this balanced out the fatigue starting to develop in the legs. Day started into night.
First off, I loved the course, it was fun and full of flow. At night though things were a little different. By then legs were a little tired and hills started to become hills. The single track also tested the best riders night riding skills, it was fun and a challenge. At this point we had roughly a 30 minute lead on 2nd, a good lead but it meant that there was no slacking off for either Tristan or I. Of course this lead to those worst hours in a 24 hour race, 1am and 3 am swaps. We lost a few minutes in both of our swaps when we both took a round of dragging our feet. Even with all my years of doing this type of racing getting out from underneath a warm sleeping bag to ride is always cruel and unusual punishment. I did get to finish my last night lap just as morning was beginning to appear. At home the sound of the birds can sometimes be annoying, you never realize how loud they are, on the trail at a 24 hour event it means the return of vision, 3/4 of the way through the event, a renewed energy. We still had about a 20 minute lead.
Daylight returned, Tristan was far from in a pleasant mood, fatigue was kicking in hard for both of us. He did what he had to do, grumbling a little more than normal, My turn came and with the vision returned I pulled a couple low 50's laps helping give us a huge cushion, this was followed up with grumbly man doing his last single lap and pulling another 51 minute lap time. Cushion was set, we had the win as long as someone stayed on course. That someone was me, the nice thing was a short visit from team coach,vice president Andrew Watson near the end of the lap, rode for a few minutes before things like hills separated us. He had been rented out from AWI Racing to his other team for the weekend. Crossed the line with one lap to go. Little did we know that the 2nd place team decided to pull the plug at this point knowing they couldn't catch us. I spun along for the last lap, just riding along, it was almost done. As the km disappeared and I crossed the 2 way bridge for the last time I started to smile more and more. Rolling into the home stretch there were guys offering beer to riders, of course I had to grab one, it was the best thing I drank over the last 24 hours, pure gold after living on sport drinks. Notice that I happen to be wearing my nutrition sponsor jersey as I enjoy that beer much more.
A repeat win for Tristan and I. Felt good, we worked hard for this one, 27 laps. Both of us were tired beyond the normal, we had phenomenal support all weekend. Walking up to the podium started the next challenge of the weekend. For those there, you already know. A scheme a month in the making, pressure of performing on a bike to make it all work, the synchronizing of it all lead to this.
Family members were there, friends were there, of course the best thing was her saying yer, the bike race was second place to this. A huge thank you to Chico racing, Adam, Sean, Matt, Ted, Hayden. Couldn't have done it without your great event. To my team mates, Andrew, Liz, Jacob, Tristan, thank you for your support. An even bigger thank you to Liz for helping with shirts and all the other to do's. To Tristan, the biggest thank you, for pedaling your heart out in complete misery at times, couldn't have done this without you buddy!!
I'm tired, today is a chill day away from work, the sun is out, some beer will be drank, some napping will occur. The body is craving a little more rest. I do believe it was earned. More tomorrow.