By now most of you know I won my category at Worlds just over a week ago so this post might be a little anti-climatic in nature. Still, I didn't post up much detail in the previous post, so now is the time for the detail and some related thoughts. And since this was a big event (for me at least) I'm going to supplement it with more than it's fair share of images, because as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. The images are a mix of pro shots, iPhone shots and point and shoots so the imagery will vary in quality but they all add to the mix.

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Saturday morning started off sunny and warm a great way to start the day. We got up to Solo pit row to set things up a few hours before the race start, leaving enough time not to have to rush around. We were pitting next to Iain Hackett (an endurance racer out of Austin, TX) who I have been coaching for a while. This was Iain's second 24hr Solo race and I must say he did an outstanding job, Iain completed 14 laps which had him placing 4th in his category, nicely done! Iain stayed in the guest bedroom at our house in Calgary during the week preceding the event and he also stayed with us in the place we rented in Canmore. I'm sure Iain is still decompressing from his whirlwind trip, it was within a matter of hours of landing in Canada that I had him on the race course in Canmore so he could see the course terrain, he adapted like a pro. During his time here I would take him out on trg rides in the local area and out on the race course and we'd also hang out and discuss the upcoming race, training in general and any number of subjects. Even though Iain is back in Austin right now, this morning we pushed a couple of emails back and forth between ourselves joking about future Taylor Training Camps as part of the Taylor Training System (pickup at the airport not included, doing laundry can be offset by volunteering to mow the lawn, haha). But I'm already digressing...

From the time we all woke up Saturday morning the sequence of events played out predictably leading up to the race gun. I had enough time to go over the bikes again, lay out my stuff and sit down in a chair and get my head in place.



Call-up went smoothly and pretty soon there were 100+ soloists staged in the massive transition tent with 10mins till the gun. The temps were interesting at 36 degrees (100 degrees for our US friends) I'm ok with that heat so that was fine by me. When the gun went off we had a 1500 meter run to get to the bikes... that, was, hard. I managed to stay up near the front of the pack, even making up some spots and jumped on the bike with my eyes bugging out from the effort, running isn't exactly my thing.

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Hopping on or off the bike in front of the pit is one of those bittersweet points in a race. It's the moment where you get to see your pit crew and it's what you've raced towards for an entire lap, only to spend a brief period of time at it and then head out for more racing.

And what did racing look like? Well here's a shot of an area only 5mins after leaving the pits, it was a short steep pitch that I out of the saddled on every lap.

Leaving-transition

singletrackAfter a bunch of climbing you would eventually get in to some singletrack, definitely where I was happiest. The course was rugged and challenging, with lots of tight sections and tons of places to make mistakes if you weren't focused. While the legs were being worked over due to exertion the roots and rocks were choppy enough to start really pounding away on the rest of the body.

I really enjoyed the course, it wasn't your typical pristine and obstacle free race course designed with just leg fitness in mind. It really was a mountain bike course with all of the challenges that mountain biking offers, including a lot of high speed opportunities requiring out of the saddle work as you bombed down rooty sections.

My Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper performed flawlessly on this course allowing me to nail whatever I wanted to, it didn't even blink at the stuff I threw it at. I've had this bike for 2yrs now and this year during BCBR and Worlds it really proved it's abilities. Kyle, the owner of Sugar Cycles, put me on this bike and I have to say it was a fantastic recommendation. Thanks for all the good advice and support, Kyle!

rooty

The image below shows me tearing down a steep open section at velocities that would get you a speeding ticket. You wouldn't know it to look at the image but this section was faaaaasssttt!

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mountain-backgroundThis image is a perfect example of an interesting race feature. There were approx 1500 other racers out at the event who were doing it as teams, some of the teams were very competitive and others were out there for the weekend grassroots camaraderie and adventurous fun. As soloists we had large sections of singletrack dedicated to our course, the team racers had other sections of more open fireroad dedicated to their course.

If you look in the background you can see a double wide fireroad, this is a section where we would pop out of some technical singletrack in the woods and ride next to team racers who were on the double wide as we were on our own fast and snakey singletrack hardpack (you can see a soloist in the background on the singletrack). The next time we would see team riders again would be approx 15mins later.

Unlike BCBR, where I was racing so fast and hard that I didn't know what color the sky was, during this race the pace was different so it was easy to soak in the views of the mountains and the expanse of beautiful scenery in the Bow Valley.

dazeEventually, with lots of racing and lots of scenery, things start to get a bit blurry around the edges and focus begins to disintegrate on easy sections of the course. This image shows the beginning of the 1000 yard stare.

Interestingly enough, at least to me, considering how aggressively I was attacking this course I didn't have a single wipeout or slip off the bike. It was a relatively flawless ride in regards to bike handling and I think BCBR really helped in that aspect. I also believe the advanced level of core training I've been doing and some of the other diverse aspects of my trg plan really helped me to manage this course much better than if I'd approached it from a one dimensional 'lungs and legs are fit' plan.

Approx 6hrs into the race the weather started to change with lightning and thunder flashing around us. By eight hours in the temps had dropped considerably and we were getting rain. It was shades of last year's Worlds and the weather last year was a full on assault. But no point in worrying about the things you can't control and so the foot remained on the gas pedal.

Eventually day turns in to night and here's that same spot, just 5mins out of the transition area, climbing up the steep little hill and heading off in to the darkness. While night riding you don't have the luxury of a photographer lighting up the entire course for you all the time, so a few seconds later I was back in my comfortably dark world with my helmet lighting system providing a cone of illumination in front of me.

night-hill

I enjoy night riding/racing, it opens up a whole new world of riding experiences, kind of like scuba diving in daytime and scuba diving at night... wwwaaaaayyyyyyy different. If you can imagine the image below would have been completely black except for my helmet light, it's hard to understand what night racing looks like until you've done it.

night

The funny thing about night photography (besides it being frustratingly difficult to get good shots) is how as a racer you will be bombing down a flat open fireroad section in your own little dark world and all of a sudden you will see a couple of guys up on the trail in the middle of nowhere warning you they are going to get a shot. I decided to go with the 'Rock On Power Fist' with this one. If I was the lead singer in a mountain bike rock group this would be the cover of our album.

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At some point during the night racing I started to kick it back a bit in the pit, the gap between second place and myself was starting to increase and with a 90min lead I was feeling pretty comfortable. That's not to say getting that lead was easy, I worked like a dog for the first 12hrs of the race to gain that advantage and the guy in second place was no slacker. He was pushing hard and I had to keep my eye on him throughout. Some of my pit breaks were way too long and I only have myself to blame for that. Doreen kept pushing me out of the pit through a sophisticated system of techniques she has honed through quite a few endurance races, one of the key techniques is making me feel like a slacker but in the nicest possible way, which only Doreen can pull-off.

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The shot above (and the image below of me on the podium) was taken by Russell Baker who was traveling with the Aussie contingent. When he wasn't busy cheering on Aussie racers and/or overseeing his race timing system, he was out taking photos which can be seen here 'the race' and here 'the awards'. Even though it seemed like I was dogging it out there, it sort of looks like I was making an effort coming through and in to the transition tent area.

Eventually nighttime gave way to the early dawn and I had increased my lead over second place to over 2hrs. Now the strategy became what was the minimum amount of laps I needed to do in order to secure first place. Call it lazy but I decided I wanted to do the least amount of laps necessary. While I was out on the course I still hit it hard on the technical, flats and downs, it was the uphill sections that were starting to wear on me and I was starting to push the bike more and more on the really steep climbs. I was enjoying being on the bike still, so that was good, and it looks like I had enough juice in the final laps to get a bit of rear wheel drift going around the corners, caffeinated Infinit might have helped with that. Speaking of Infinit, that's another 24hr event racing on nothing but Infinit liquid nutrition. In the last couple of years I've done hundreds of hours of racing on Infinit and countless hours of trg on it. It's all I use now - I love that stuff.

into-transition

After 23+ hours of racing I crossed the finish line with 16 laps under my belt. GPS data shows approx 28,000-30,000 vertical feet of climbing (and an equal amount of descending, haha) with a whole pile of fast flat sections in-between. As I sit here thinking about that it sounds like a tough race, and I know it was but the memory plays tricks and somehow it doesn't seem as hard right now, I remember the good times much more so than the tough not-so-fun times. It was challenging and enjoyable in that perverse 24hr solo racing sort of way. This race, unlike other endurance races in the past, had me showing up with great fitness and a pretty decent amount of depth in my legs. BCBR three weeks before impacted my race a bit, I think, particularly in the last phase of the race where I felt a fairly deep sense of fatigue climbing up the hills. But I executed a smart recovery/add-on/taper/peak plan after BCBR and it seemed to work well, I was glad to have the opportunity to study the puzzle of a hard seven day stage race followed by a 24hr endurance race.

Finish-line-23hrs

I took this event seriously, it was my biggest event of the year and I'm happy with my results. I went into it with a smart training plan, I executed well on race day and I learned a few more things along the way. I secured this year's racing goal of earning the jersey that I've had in my mind since standing on the podium in second place last year... yaaaaay jersey! Truthfully I'm most happy about coming to an intersecting point where the intangible and tangible stuff collide to make a difference in results; stuff like smart trg, precise execution in-race, nutrition, psychology, pacing, hydration, core, good equipment, experience, etc, etc, etc. Of course none of that means I have endurance racing completely figured out, if it's even possible, the more you do it the more you realize how much there is to learn about the sport, but mainly you realize it's about learning more about yourself.

Blue-steelEven though I took this event serious... really serious... I don't think you have to take yourself so serious that you can't have a little bit of mocking fun. This shot was taken just after crossing the finish line, all I heard was "let me grab a shot" so I threw down my patented 'Blue Steel' pose, also known as the 'Rock On Power Fist' pose.

I hope our boys don't adopt my Derek Zoolander-like Blue Steel pose, because it's mine, all mine. ;-)

Once back in the pit I got to kick it back and have a laugh or two with family and friends, there was a video camera in my face at one point though I'm not sure what I said. If the video footage ever goes up I'll post it this way. Hopefully I didn't give away our banking account passwords or mention where we have the gold bullion buried in our backyard. Things like that always tend to slip out after a 24hrs event.

(Please don't dig up our backyard looking for the gold, but you are more than welcome to come over and mow the lawn.)

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Here's a great shot of Iain and I post-race hanging out on 'his side' of the combined pits. If you look closely enough you can see the dirt outlines of the Specialized helmet venting system on my forehead, am I the only one laughing about that.

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Later that evening we went to the post-event awards ceremony at 'The Goat' which put on some excellent quality food. Hanging out with the other racers was a fine way to top off a great weekend. As I sat out on the back deck of The Goat, with Doreen and Iain, a beer in my hand and surrounded by the mountains, I finally felt the weight of the event slip off my shoulders. Happy to have succeeded in my quest and grateful for the opportunities that allowed it to happen.

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And who got me to this smiling, jersey-wearing point? No doubt my sponsors were a big part of it. Stuart Dorland who puts on the 24hrs of Adrenalin series deserves a round of applause. My pit crew (Doreen and Doreen's dad George) who have looked after me and worked so hard in several of these. The inspirational athletes I coach who have cheered me on. All the support of friends and well-wishers who have made all the effort easier. A double honorable mention goes out to Doreen who through the years has supported me in my quests no matter how questionable they were. She has allowed me to fixate on endurance racing, simply smiles and shakes her head when I come up with a 'new technique', knows when to push me and when not to, has given me her unfailing love. It took three years of Worlds to get something to dedicate to her and so that jersey (even though it's mine, all mine) is dedicated to Doreen (it's a medium, you can't have it, it's just a dedication).

Love you, honey.

Worlds is in Australia next year. I'm not sure of the dates, or if it will fit into the family plans. For 2010 I'm already registered for BCBR, so there's at least one big event on the horizon. Worlds in Australia does sound appealing, the boys have never seen a kangaroo in the wild before, they like hanging out on beaches building sand castles, since we left Texas the BBQ quality has dropped and I've heard the Aussies throw a good barbie? Time will tell.

For now, it's time to get back on the bike and do some fun riding with friends in the mountains.

14 comments:

John F said...

Outstanding!!!

Shaun Taylor said...

Thanks John!

Kevin said...

Congrats Shaun

KevC

Shaun Taylor said...

Thanks Kev!

Andrew said...

Great job Shaun, you and your hard work deserve this for sure. But where's my credit for telling you to drop the boat anchor Powertap wheel? We know you wouldn't have won with it weighing you down!

Shaun Taylor said...

Thanks Andrew, you mean you have received it yet? I mailed it to you a few days before the event, it's such a boat anchor that I didn't see the need for it anymore. ;-)

cammayfield said...

Well done Shaun, you seem like a genuinely good person and I'm happy to see you success smiling upon you. Keep up the great work and posts, as a fellow 30 something with two kids I draw a lot of inspiration from your blog.

Shaun Taylor said...

Thanks Cam, if you have two small male velociraptors like we do, you deserve a Championship jersey as well. ;-)

aka Kathy said...

Congrats Shaun... Doreen and George! (It may be a solo event, but you know you can't do it with out the support crew.)

Shaun Taylor said...

Thx Kathy, no doubt about it, Doreen and George are the Formula 1 pit crew! Anyone who can put up with me in race mode for 24hrs should get a medal.

Bill said...

Beautiful photographs. Good job in the race ...o/o

Shaun Taylor said...

Thanks Bill. I just went over to your site for the first time and saw the links to the videos. If you don't mind I will post them up on my blog, just a note... the audio is crippled on the first one (I haven't watched the second one yet).

gregparham said...

Good job, my friend, and awesome fu-man-chu you got going on there. You look incredibly fit, more so than me. I now deem you "the master". Gonna be back in Texas in October?

Shaun Taylor said...

Thanks Greg, I was hoping the Manchu would strike fear into the heart of the course, it worked for a few laps and then it started dishing it back. ;-)

I just slid over to your blog, great job on the Breck100, a serious event that is all-yours next year.

As for heading down there in Oct, that's an awful long way to travel for you to kick my ass. ;-)