Wednesday, May 27, 2009

burn 24 hour: 6th place. 23 laps. 170 miles. jetson's rocket car feet...

so may 23-24 marked the 9th annual burn 24 hour mtb race. it was held at the dark mtn trails at the kerr scott reservoir in wilkesboro, nc. sam, megan, and i met friday morning to stake our claim to a pit area for our RV/tent city. it was quite nice. friday night darcy and i prepped food, ate pizza, and stayed at the hutchens estate to avoid driving as much saturday morning.

saturday morning flew by. we're prepping clothes, lights, batteries, food, shoes, bikes, minds, and all of a sudden its like 11:56 so i make my way over to start/finish to do the run. blah running in bike shoes with stuff in my pockets. not fun. basically the next few hours involved riding my cannondale f29'er then realizing i started out too hard again (like last year) -AND- a hardtail is not the ultimate 24 hour racing machine. so i got something like 4 laps in 3 hours, at a bit too much food, and my hands/arms hurt. so i switched early to my trek fuel ex and it was kinda odd at first, being back on circus wheels... i just kept riding my bike. trying to make quick pits and getting back out there for the next few hours and soon it was nighttime so i did a clothing change and got my helmet with lights installed on my head. ready to go.

it was quite nice to have a change from the oh-so-sweet-fake foods that we all know and love. i went with hammer sustained energy, hammer heed, and clif shot electrolyte apple drinks. i kinda slowed my intake of these and switched to plain water and small cups of chicken, along with almonds (i'd been eating these since 1pm). i got kinda beat down and began cramping a lot so instead of stopping to stretch i realized you can grit your teeth, go to the small chainring, and keep pedaling through leg cramps. thankfully i had no arm/hand cramps although they were fatigued. our local massage folks muscle works advised me to stretch my hands/arms while riding and so of course, i listened. after a few slow laps with 22-34 as my primary gear we got the coffee going so i was feeling alot better mentally and physically. my legs cramps were quickly gone. yes. coffee (espresso strength. thanks donovan) is an ergogenic aid. my wonderful wife darcy was there helping sam with feeding me and just in general trying to keep me happy. soon we got into a decent groove with nighttime food stops including chicken, coffee, and soup. i kept riding through the night, saw shaw, sarah, chelly, dan w, paul e, and others. seeing my friends from boone was quite nice and gave me a boost.

midnight seemed to come quickly and eric marland turned out a fast lap for his birthday. i just kept on trucking and soon 3am was here. these night laps were hard and i resorted to thinking about silly things to keep a smile on my face. i thought a little about my honeymoon trip to ireland, although soon my real positive thinking turned to positive hallucinations or something. i had a thought about my feet involving small fairy like creatures that were flying along helping to push my feet in cirlces. soon this morphed into small jetson's style rocket cars existing attached to my pedals instead of feet. these rocket boosters definitely helped get me through the night. the night laps were fun and it was nice to know i'd ridden through the 3-5am hours which i slept through at last year's burn.

at some point it rained and made the trails a bit more difficult as there are lots of small roots peeking through the trail as a result of erosion and the huge numbers of riders this trail sees. i know the rain started and i thought this is nice. its cooling things off. then i hit a root section and thought twice... soon morning came and boy it was a relief to look up through the trees and see blue sky peeking through. i did another clothing change at some point in the morning, and climbed back on the bike determined to stay in my middle ring a bit more, like i did my last few night laps. it seemed easier to go faster in the middle ring even though my legs barely worked anymore. soon there were just over 2 hours left and i thought maybe i can sneak back through the start finish at like 11:58 and have time for another lap.

nope. my brain and my legs and my ischial tuberosity did not want to do any more laps. i told sam as i came through around 9:55am that 'i think i have time for two more laps.' sam and darcy both gave their approval and i could tell they were glad i was still thinking positively. after my 22nd lap it was around 11:05a i thought i have to go out for one more. i should surely can finish it before 1pm and so off i went. it was very hard to ride some of the steeps on the fish dam creek trail although somehow i made it. the climb up the entrance trail on the frontside was hard too, but i kept telling myself this is my last lap, step up. do it!! i cruised through the snake switchbacks, which i had been cleaning all day, night and day and found myself at the lowest point. i went to my granny ring and began climbing the snake trail to the checkpoint and i had to get off and walk my bike. i did this last year as well and i did not feel ashamed either time. people passing (through the night AND morning) would realize who the solo racers were and tell me great job solo -or- keep it up, last lap!!! and this stuff combined with the words of encouragement from our boone bike team and the betty project and other locals made for a very motivating last lap. after passing the teeter totter i realized the hardest part of the lap was over, then climbing out of the lake loop was tough, but i knew every pedal stroke got me closer to being finished, and seeing my wife and friends for hugs and high fives. erik nielson caught me and i quickly realized he was the winner (finishing his 29th lap), we talked for a moment, congratulated each other and made our way down the fireroad and through the DH course. coming out of the trees the last lap is something that is indescribable.

hearing cheers from BMCC tent, magic cycles, middle ring mafia, other random team tents, then from our tent city gave me the boost needed to stand up and sprint even though it was unnecessary. i tossed my bottle down to get rid of excess weight and stood up and gave it all i had through the straightaway and around the grassy twisty stuff for the last time. as i could hear the announcers they called out rider 133 another solo rider is finishing up its joseph grimes. i again heard cheers, applause, and at the same time silence. nothing at all. i zipped my boone bike jersey, crossed the line. and slowed to put my head on my handlebars. i don't really remember everything at this point except that plenty of people i knew and didn't know continued to tell me great job. i drank my recovery drink and tried to spin around easily enough to get back to the tent without completely falling over. i soon learned i got 6th place out of 38 solo riders. 63rd place overall out of ~120 teams/solos/duos. that our boone bike boys got 2nd to inland construction a team made of pro racers while successfully dethroning the middle ring mafia. i heard it came down to 40 seconds. wheew!! the betty project seemed disappointed to finish 2nd, although i was very proud of them and grateful for their positive words through the night and morning. i found a chair, sat in tent city, and drank and ate. i think i did a better job eating than last year as i weigh the same now (a few days later) as i did before. maybe the burgers and chips and ice cream was a bad idea monday... anyways.

thanks to all. having smiling faces and encouragement lap after lap through the night and morning hours kept my legs moving. shaw pointed out 'Sun May 24, 2009 1:00 pm Replacement middle rings are in stock at Boone Bike and Touring...' sam, darcy, christie, brown, mrs brown, eric, kim, fawley for push-offs, dj thatcher, matty, andy, megan, eric, beth, caroline, kathleen, melanie, chuck, dc, matt, evan, kinsay, daniel, wendy, jason, martin and anyone i may be forgetting... thanks for being there and making this year's burn great.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WOW son! this is the first time I've seen your writings in a long time. I've got to remember to check it out more often. It was wonderful reading about the burn 24hour. I have to admit, I actually have a few questions. Maybe when you are here, we can look at this together and I can ask you....congrats for your hard riding and 6th place. You did very well. I wish we could be at one of these again, now that you've got more under your belt. Maybe you could let us know well in advance and we might be able to plan to come up this coming year???