I posted a condensed version of events in the Endurance Racing forum, but I thought I would post a more Turner-specific version of events here.
Three weeks ago I did my first 24 hour race. Unable to find any teammates, I decided to do it solo. I was nervous as hell about whether or not I could stay on my bike for the better part of 24 hours. Later on, I found out that the guys at my LBS were taking bets how long I was going to last.
A view from the high point of the course
Going up the first climb of the day
And down the first descent
The day started out as unseasonably warm. I started out as the slowest guy on the course. I felt good and just followed what my HRM told me to do for a pace. It was amusing to watch people ride away from me, knowing I had 23+ hours to go. I was just hoping that my survival strategy would work out. First lap: 1h 30m
1st Lap down
On the next lap, the temperatures had started to climb into the upper 80s and some of the people who were riding away from me on the first lap were now cramping or walking some of the climbs. Halfway through the lap, the wheel I failed to rebuild before the race broke a spoke. Bummer. I nursed the bike back to my pit area at the end of the lap, pulled the wheel from my Spot I had there as a backup, adjusted the brakes and derailleurs, and rode off into the hot afternoon. Second lap: 1h 35m
Leaving the pits after the second lap
The rest of the daytime laps were uneventful. Ride. Replenish calories and fluids, rest a little, get back on bike. Third lap: 1h 41m Fourth lap: 1h 47m
About the time darkness was coming, I figured out that I wasn't going to be able to make it for 24 hours on Gu and Gu2O alone. I was really friggin' hungry. My 1 man pit crew did a great job of getting me fed and hydrated. I put on a couple of layers as the temperature had dropped 25 degrees from the afternoon, mounted the L&M lights, put the iPod in my jersey, and hit the trails again.
The first nighttime lap rocked. The iPod was pumpin', the HID kept the trail lit, and I just kept pedaling. After another break with more food, more drink, and more rest, I put on another layer and went out for a lap at about 10 PM.
Now it was really starting to get cold (about 40 degrees F). I had not packed my midwinter stuff for the race, so my hands and feet were really starting to get cold. Braking was a little difficult when I could barely feel my fingers. I muddled my way through this lap to a reward of more hot food and a little bit of rest. I put on 4 layers on my upper body and went out for lap 6.
By this time the Red Bull had lost any effectiveness and I had the same reaction times as if I was drunk. That and my brain turning the vegetation into various animals made that lap simply one to be survived. I finished lap 7 and got back to the RV around 3AM and decided that it was in my best interest to get some rest.
I woke up around sunrise and decided to sack up and do one more lap in the first light. I bundled up again (it was probably about 45-50 degrees at that point) and did one more lap. The final lap was the most difficult of all. There was no gas left in the tank and the HR would not get within 30 bpm of my anaerobic threshold. I was slow and tired. I rode the last lap in about 2h 30m feeling fully bonked for almost all of it. The words of encouragement I received from the other riders as I was suffering on the last climb of the race reminded me why I love this sport so much.
I finished my last lap, finally got out of my bike clothes are 23 hours, and made it over to the food concessionaire and ate the best pancakes I've ever had. Then I had to wait and see where I was going to place in my age group.
At the end of the 24 hours I had finished 8 laps. Total distance was 120 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing. It turns out that I outlasted the other 2 guys in my class and won! My first (and probably only) time that I got hardware for racing my MTB. I shocked the guys at the shop who were thinking I was good for 4-5 laps.
Finally, the finish line
Now for the Turner money shot: I think the Flux is just about the perfect bike for this sort of racing. The suspension was the perfect balance between being firm to prevent too much power loss and plush enough to keep my body from getting too sore. The stable handling is perfect for navigating the bumpy sections at 3AM and still be able to zip through the tight singletrack that made up a large part of the course. Interestingly, there were 2 other Fluxes in the field, both under other solo riders (including another class winner).
The happy winner and his machines
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Thread: One Long Day