This race is a bit different than most 24's. The event starts at 5 PM on Friday and goes till 5 PM Saturday. I like this time format, as the 5 o'clock hour is when I do most of my training so my body is used to going at that hour, plus you can get the night riding out of the way while you are still fresh. So, on Friday morning, Buchanandale, Blue Colnago, and myself hit up Perkins for a pre race breakfast then hit the road for the 3 hour drive to north to the outskirts of the Twin Cities.
Once we got up the "Alps," we scoped out the venue and found a spot right off the race course and right near the start/finish line. We got out pit dialed and lined up our nutrition. When you get to an event almost 5 hours before start you have time to prep, rest, organize, and take everything in stress free. Just the way I like it. For Afton, I decided to organize out my nutrition for fast distribution. It worked perfect. Sorting out all my E-Caps and Wicked Fast Sports Nutrition helped to keep my pit times in the 5-20 second time frame. Also included are some Clif Shot Bloks....perfect for fast and tasty nutritional intake. I would end up going through 9 packages of Bloks during the 24 hour period.
So the race started at 5 PM. My goal was to be in the top 5 going into the singletrack and to get in 4 laps by dark. The race started with a 100 yard run. Seemed like the run was stupid fast...a lot faster than Nationals. Anyway, I was one of the first guys to my bike. Once on the bike a group of 4 of us hauled ass down a service road roadie-pace-line style towards the start of the 8 mile course. Once on trail I set into a 45-50 minute lap pace.
I kept my pace for the first 3 hours or so. During this time I could spot the 2nd and 3rd place riders down the course on earlier switchbacks. I knew that if I got a good gap before night, I could grow that gap over the night hours. On my last daylight lap before the sun would come up on Saturday I had about a 35 minute lead on 2nd and a lap lead on 3rd.
For the night laps, I decided to go lightweight. The only light that I ran for the entire night was the new CatEye Double Shot Pro. The light along with the Li-Ion battery, and the low beam setting allowed me to keep my race speed where I wanted it. The best part, was that I got 7 hours of burn time!
When night fell, I just kept on truck'n. I would soon settle into my pace that I would ride for the remainder of the event. Throughout the next 8 hours I would lap and pass team riders and other solos. The only guys that I was not staying with were those guys trying to take the top Team spots.
About half way through the night hours I would crash for a 2nd time in the same spot. The first time was on my last day lap, where a rider went down in front of me and I crashed because I ran them over. The 2nd time i crashed was on a rocky downhill right after a sharp low speed right turn. The lack of speed combined with the every changing perfect line caused me to catch a bar end on the tree trying to take the line on the left of the run. Needless to say I ended up shooting off the bike. This would result in 2 bloody knees and "Cool Blog Content Points" from the guys at Twin Six.
The sun would rise at 6 AM. Over the night hours the 2nd and 3rd place riders would change position and I would achieve a 4 lap lead. With the arrival of the sun we were greeted with clear skies and warm temps. This was a welcomed sight as the race started in grey and rain soaked conditions. I soon started to plan the final laps. The rules state that you DO NOT have to finish after the 5 o'clock hour. So, that meant that all I needed to do was to get in enough laps to guarantee the first place spot....then stop.
At 1:51 PM, a full 3 hours before the end of the 24 hour period, I stopped my race. I had suffered thru 20 laps and that was enough to get me and my pit crew the win. 2nd and 3rd place were very close to each other, so they ended up duke'n it out till the final hours. Buchanandale would ended up holding on to 2nd place to make Cannondale the top 2 bikes on the podium!
Here is a sample of some of my race food:
Rice Krispy Treats
Got to give a huge THANK YOU to the following:
Mom and Dad for pit support.
Blue Colnago for breakfast.
Guys at Twin Six for on course heckling.
Promoters of the 24 Hours of Afton for a great race!
More pictures to come soon from some other sources. In the mean time check out these impressive night photos!