Race day started at 7 AM with the traditional hearty breakfast at Perkins. I need to give a huge THANK YOU to Buchanandale and Amy for deciding to pit for me. It was a last second decision on their part on this busy Labor Day Weekend. They joined me for beakfast. After that it was time for the 2 hour drive to the race venue. Going into this event I knew that it was going to be tough. The course at Boone is a great XC course, but racing on it for 24 hours is a nightmare! The course never lets up...you are either climbing or decending. So needless to say, your body is always fighting the roots, climbs, the wildlife, and rough trail.
Once we pulled up to the venue, we promptly set up our pit for the 24 hour slog. The weather was calling for rain, but the forcast was changing all the time. It started at 70% chance of rain...then dropped to 40%....then by race time it was down to 10%. So with those words, I took the mud tires off my main race bike and decided to run the Maxxis Ignitors. My back up bike kept with the mud theme and stayed with the Medusa's. While sitting around he pit, I began to "eye up" the other solo's. The main guy that I had my eye on was Dennis Grelk. Having won here before, he knew what to do to get the job done.
The race started at noon. I felt good to go, and my legs felt pretty good....or atleast I thought. The race began with the blowing up of a bicycle tube. During the run I was the 4th person to my bike. Going into the singletrack at the start of the first lap was a team rider, Dennis, myself, and another team rider. The pace was just right, as the 4 of us began to pull away from the rest of the field. I let Dennis ride in front of me. During this time I watched is body language, and his riding habits on certain parts of the course. At about half way through the first lap, I came around him on a short open climb. I then continued on with my normal 24 hour pace. Shortly after getting away, I caught the lead team rider. Passing him, I pushed on. Shortly after that, a team rider from the Rassy team passed me. I finished out the lap in 2nd place.
My pits were short. Once again I was keeping them in the sub-15 second range. I contnued lap after lap and was gaining time on Dennis who was in 2nd, and Squirrel who was in 3rd on a singlespeed. After getting in numerous laps, I was told that I was 15 minutes up on Dennis, and 22 minutes up on Squirrel. Laps were around 6ish miles, and taking about 45-50 minutes to complete. I kept pushing on.
At about the 8 hour mark, that is when I started to feel the effects of last weekend. The short steep hills where starting to strain the lower back. Also, the legs were getting that "not so recovered" feeling. Also, at this time, I was getting ready to saddle up for the night hours. It was then, that Buchanandale told me that I was in 2nd place. WTF?! Here I had ridden alone for almost 8 hours. The only riders to pass me on course were the leading team riders. Buchanandale said that there was a rider on a red hardtail who was turning 40 minutes laps. WTF?! I barely turned a 40 minute lap during the first hours of the event. But here, this rider was doing this 8 hours into the race....then 15 hours into the race....then 20 hours into the race. Did I mention he had a multiple lap led on the teams? WTF!!!!
Anyway, with all the drama in the air I pushed on. At about 11 PM, things started to get bad. We had some light rain earlier in the event which made parts of the course greasy and ice like. My Ignitors would clog up with the clay-like soil. I had no traction on the off camber sections of the course. Once back to the pit, I switched bikes and began to turn laps with the Medusa equipped RUSH. The tires hooked up like velcro. Only problem here was me. I was totally cooked. At the 1/2 way point the pain in my leg muscles and lower back were insane! Every pedal stroke hurt. I no loger had the power to go up hill. This led to a lot of walking.
I came in at around midnight and was told of the current situation: I was in 2nd by 1 lap over Dennis. Squirrel, who was in 4th was dropping. The supposed leader was still turning faster night laps than day laps and had a huge lap lead over me...and the teams.
After midnight, I was in damage control. My lap times which had been in the sub one hour mark were now getting close to 1.5 hours in length. I was forced to walk more than ride. When I did ride it was slow and not smooth. I would look down and see 3mph or 5mph on my CatEye computer. OUCH! When I did ride I was all over the course. Fatigue was causing me to crash in spots that I had been cleaning. Plus, I was starting to do more harm than good. At around 3 AM, I came in from a lap and sat down. My lower back muscles were screaming! Even with the heat pack on my back for several hours, I couldn't muster the want/need to get back on the bike. It would be at 3:30 AM, under clear and cool skies, on Sunday that I would pull the plug.
I then got cleaned up and caught a few Zzzzzz's. I woke up at 7 AM to see that I was now in 3rd, but the other riders in the top 5 were still out riding. Dennis had moved into 2nd, and some other riders were slogging out their laps. We stuck around till around 9, then headed back to Waterloo. When I got home I recieved an e-mail stating that the first place rider had been DQ'd for cutting course. There had been numerous riders complaining that they were seeing this guy cutting course. Oh well! He has to live with it! That would move me up a spot to either 3rd or 4th (exact placing to come with official results).
So, I can finally say that what i did the last 2 weekends is not an easy task. I tried to do back to back 24's to see if I could do it. I almost did it. It was hard on the body....and mind. Not sure if I will try to do something like this again anytime soon, but I can say I will be back to Boone in the near future for this 24 hour event. Hands down it is one of the hardest course to race a 24 hour format.
A huge thanks to....
Carl and Amy for staying up late and giving me food and water.
DQ and other pit people for the on-course heckling.
Cam for not beating me up.
Paul J for the rider pics in this post.