Catch-up time on the blog.
Nearly 2wks ago we hit the road towards southern interior BC for a couple of days, we were on our way to Spokane for some racing so all the more reason to see the sights along the way.
The Pilot was crammed to the max with four race bikes (my two plus the kid's bikes) and 24hr pit gear, plus camping supplies and a week's worth of clothes, dog food and kid's reading books. I think we had to turn Pico, our Black Lab, sideways to slide her in past the bags of Infinit nutrition.
Interior BC rained the whole time so it didn't make for good riding. Of course I was in a taper/peak mode for the upcoming 24 Solo and the weather/travel interruption was a bit of a juggling act trying to get rides in and I wasn't very successful. It wasn't a perfect taper but overall I felt pretty decent and was relying on my base fitness rather than my peak when we hit Spokane on Friday.
At the race site we hooked up with Scott 'Rockie Balboa tough' Legere and Lisa, they had saved us a pit spot next to their site (thx) and after some catching up (Worlds in Canberra was the last time we hung out) and quite a few laughs, Scott and I hopped on the singlespeeds for a quick 23km lap of the course. My legs were a bit flat from all the driving and non-riding in the previous days but I felt pretty confident the pre-lap would help open them up for the following day.
Saturday morning was the usual pre-24 routine, along with the mandatory Captain's briefing. Keegan wanted to ride his bike down to the meeting, because now he's a bike racer. ;-)
Once the race gun went off it was the usual Le Mans run for a few minutes and then scramble to grab bikes out of the bike rack area in order to get out ahead of the main body of racers. I decided I wanted to see what the new Lynskey 29'er hardtail was all about under race conditions so I started pushing the pace. The course was a blast, it was easy and fun and I felt good on the bike.
As the course wasn't technical at all (in my opinion) you had to be smart with carrying momentum and if you could do that the flow and route layout more than made up for the lack of technical challenge. There were a few grinder hills spread around the course but I've been told it was only 750' vert gain per 14+ mile lap.
I was having so much fun on the bike and feeling so strong that I just kept the foot on the gas pedal and chipped away at the soloists. Nothing was really slowing me down until late into the night when I made a major tactical error by chasing the leader into the cold temps while severely under-dressed, but my mindset at the time was go big or go home. Two laps of very cold racing had me struggling on the course, my line choices were getting compromised and I couldn't feel my hands or feet. Unfortunately (for me) the overall Solo category winner is a very competent endurance racer and it was hard keeping up to his geared bike on such a steady state course, he totally deserved to win based on the effort he put in. I should have spent less time chasing him and more time putting on some extra layers of clothing in the freezing temperatures. I knew I was in trouble when my helmet night light was showing frozen sparkles of snow in the air.
Because of my stubborn focus on racing after the leader I ended up wasting 90mins in my pit hugging hot water bottles in between a couple of laps to try and raise my core temps up. I'm not sure how Doreen could stand the whining in the pit as I was trying to pull it together; one minute I'd be complaining about losing spots while sitting there wasting time under a blanket and the next I'd be complaining that I couldn't go out because of the muscle shaking convulsions from quasi-hypothermia. Stupid.
Even though the freezing temps (and stupidity) messed with my plan to try and take the overall against all the geared soloists, I still did well enough to squeeze out a respectable 4th overall with 280 miles.
As far as race gearing goes, on the pre-ride the day before I geared up with a Mono Veloce 32 ring and a King 17 cog, it felt great but after 14 miles I figured it would be waaaaay smarter to go with a King 19 cog for race day, and 32 x 19 is what I slapped on and never changed it for the rest of the race. I'm thinking a 32 x 17 gearing would have been even stupider than the hypothermia chasing mistake I made.
The Lynskey performed well throughout, occasional chain lube and that was it. Towards the end of the race I had a bit of bottom bracket creak from all the mashing and mud but nothing to be worried about. The chain also stretched off enough by the 22hr mark that I was being a bit more careful with my pedal engagement but not really a big deal, I suppose I could have tensioned up the sliders a bit more but I was too busy racing hard to stop and fiddle around so I just got a little less 'slammy' on the engagement.
No mechanicals, no adjusting/tweaking things, no wipeouts, no injuries - it really was a great weekend of racing. The SS style seems to suit me, at least that's what I've convinced myself of. I just wish I had adopted it a few years ago. The good news is it's never too late and I enjoyed it so much so that I've decided to spend the rest of this year doing all my races on only SS.
A big thanks to Doreen who totally looked after me during the race, all I had to do was think 'race my bike' and she took care of all the other stuff - including kicking me out of the pit when I'd hugged a hot water bottle too long. My results wouldn't be as good without her, anyone who's done a few 24's will know how important the pit crew is. A standing ovation for pit crew's everywhere, and the biggest round of applause for my wife.
Another round of applause for Evan and Keegan who both raced on Sunday morning while I was still out racing on the main course. Apparently it was a VERY well organized event and the boys were super excited with their 2km race results, big medals always get kids excited. Keegan's group started with just under 40 kids on the line and he managed to podium. Evan's group was also big and he was doing well until he crashed, he still pulled off a 7th place finish. As long as they are having fun and are excited to race it's all good. Doreen's camera was out of batteries so hopefully I can get some photos from Scott and Lisa, till then it's crappy iPhone photos...
After 25hrs of racing here's my post-24 head waiting to get up on the podium.
After getting off the podium, all four boys lined up with their medals.
With the awards ceremony done we all headed back to a hotel and cleaned up to go out for dinner at a really good Italian restaurant in downtown Spokane. Scott 'flush with cash from a nice podium payout' Legere picked up the tab and then it was back to our room to enjoy some beer and scotch. My head finally hit the pillow after 36hrs of non-sleep.
The drive back was uneventful, arriving back in Calgary on Monday night. Unpack, cleanup and get ready for a U2 concert in Edmonton on Wed evening.
We got there early and sat on the sunny side of the Commonwealth Stadium, watching the crowds form and enjoying a beer. While waiting for the show to start I proceeded to tell Doreen the story of how 22yrs ago I had been on the Skyhawks and that the Commonwealth Stadium was one of the 52 show sites we had lined up for that year. It was a perfect day for that jump and after we split formation and threw our chutes I remember flying over Edmonton basically just enjoying the warm descent. About 2500' above ground level and directly above the Stadium I started to feel a vibration on my entire body that just kept getting stronger and stronger. Eventually I got low enough to understand it was the insanely loud cheering the 60,000 fans were giving off, the big Canadian flag design on our square chutes had them pumped up. It might have been the loudest cheering I experienced in all those jumps that year and it might have had something to do with the design of the stadium funneling the noise upwards - or the fact that the fans were stoked! Flying my square between the uprights and landing on center field as part of the halftime show made for a bit of a tight dropzone but it all went to plan. As I grabbed my chute to jog off the field the two football teams were running back onto the field, they were yelling 'You guys are crazy' and I was yelling 'You guys are crazy'. What a classic moment. 22yrs ago I couldn't have imagined that sometime in the future I would be sitting in that same stadium with my wife, waiting for a U2 concert to begin just a couple of days after a 24hr Solo. Life is funny, and cool, like that.
Catch-up time on the blog.