By now, most of you know I got food poisoning on the Tuesday before the 24hr Solo race in Canmore, pretty frustrating to say the least. I was feeling good about the race right up till the moment I lost 6lbs of body weight in 5hrs of bathroom time. Of course that totally wiped me out for the four days leading up to the race and in those four days I still had a pile of things to do including getting the boys (and dog) organized and packed up in the SUV with one weeks worth of vacation gear, two bikes sorted out for 24hr racing along with associated 24hr Solo race gear and pit setup, etc, etc, etc... Suffice to say, it was a hard few days but with the Orbeas mounted up on the bike rack I was looking forward to seeing if I could push out a few quality racing miles.

Orbea's ready to go

We left Rossland on Thursday afternoon, heading for Radium Hot Springs to meet Scott and Lisa and stay with some of their friends. The Thurs/Fri drive was uneventful and even though I was still wiped out and feeling like I shouldn't be driving I had a few laughs with the boys along the way.

Road trip cookie

Orbea head

By Friday afternoon the boys had been handed off to Jay and Irene to spend a few days with them at their cabin (I'm still hearing stories about how much fun they had with auntie and uncle). Less than an hour later I was out doing a pre-race lap by myself and shaking my head about the last few days of craziness. The scenery helped make it all worthwhile...

Pre-race lap

Saturday morning and the usual pit prep and organization began to unfold. George came down from Red Deer to help support me in the pit and with Lisa keeping overwatch on all things race oriented/nutrition handups I was well looked after. Before the race started I asked both of them to keep a close eye on me during the race because I wasn't sure what the food poisoning effects would be out on the race course. I still wasn't feeling great, maybe 75% of my normal race ability, pretty disappointing. Even though I had put on approx 2lbs of weight since the extreme weight drop, and even though I felt more hydrated and more energetic, I knew at some point in the race I would be struggling. Good thing Lisa and George were there to help out, more on that shortly.

My usual prep time in the pit was a bit scrambled, on top of getting myself ready to go I was also coaching a few athletes through this event, some first timers and others being seasoned veterans. It was great to see all my athletes fully dialed in and ready to rock, I couldn't have been any happier as I watched them all doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing leading up to the start gun, and I'm proud of how well they all raced on the weekend.

Soon enough the prep time and last minute coaching efforts came to an end and I found myself lining up in the starting pack. It felt good to switch over to the simplicity of racing after all the scrambling around of the days prior. For this event I decided to get to the back of the crowd as I really didn't have the energy to start off with all the top riders. A very relaxed vibe back there, enough time to take it all in and nod to a few people I know and give some last minute advice.

The seconds ticked down and eventually the starting gun sounded on my 20th 24hr Solo. As the pack exploded across the start line, running towards their bikes, I had to smile because I was getting to race just days after thinking I should be in the hospital.

The course was easier than years prior, a lot of trail work had been done and the 1550' vertical gain per lap was feeling a lot smoother. The Orbea Alma 29'er felt perfect on this course! Within 30 minutes I had passed a lot of team racers I had lined up behind and I was starting to edge towards the Solo front runners. I was making a concerted effort to race slower than I normally do, I needed to be really conservative, I wanted to knock out as many laps as I could before the food poisoning effects kicked in. Here's a view I rarely see at the start of a 24, I simply don't look in my rear view mirror at the start of these races. Until I saw this image I didn't realize there were this many racers behind me.


The laps started to click off and I was feeling pretty good all things considered.


There were lots of spots out on the course where the 29'er hardtail was super fast and fun.




My general rule of thumb in a 24 is to never stop until it's time to put night lights on, exceptions being if extreme weather comes in or I have a mechanical. The course was great, the weather was amazing and the Alma felt fantastic. Other than being more tired than normal I was having fun out on the course. Day racing started turning into late evening racing and the ambient light started to decay, making for some good contrast racing through the technical descents.



As the late evening wore on my energy levels continued to drop and I started to suffer... way too early in the race to be suffering. Gahhhhhhh, food poisoning, I even look like I'm suffering. I think I was running in 3rd or 4th position at this point.



The punchy hill spikes necessary on a singlespeed were draining my limited reserves.



After 9 hours of racing I stopped in my pit because I was a mess. I was having problems processing trails, my brain simply wasn't keeping up with my descending speeds, I wasn't thinking clearly. My fuelling and hydration on each lap had been pretty much perfect up to that point and I didn't feel like the Infinit was letting me down. It was simply the fact that I had no bodily reserves to draw from. Luckily Lisa and George were on top of things, I headed over to the medical tent with them and confessed to the medics that I was racing after a serious bodyweight depletion, I was probably dehydrated and that I was hoping to get an IV to keep racing. It became pretty clear that the IV would entail a visit to the hospital and I wanted to keep racing, so that ruled the IV out as an option. From that point forward in the conversation my options began to get a bit foggier, I wasn't processing the discussion very well and Lisa stepped in to figure things out for me. The medics figured I was extremely low on electrolytes due to all the vomiting/diarrhea/weight loss four days prior to the race and if I could raise my electrolyte levels, eat a banana and drink a bunch of water while waiting an hour I could go out again for another test lap. The last thing I remember was "It's key that you wait an hour".

Lisa and George babysat me back in the pit while I ate some banana and took some electrolytes and water. At the 58 minute mark of sitting and waiting for things to change I suddenly felt a whole bunch better. I could think again and I could see and hear more clearly. It wasn't quite instant but in a matter of a few minutes I was ready to go out and do a test lap. Thanks to Lisa and George (and the unnamed medics) for working me through a stressful time. With night lights in full action, I was off.


Sadly the clear thinking and renewed energy was only good for half a lap then things began to get dangerous again. I'm usually a good night racer but I was all over the trail and now instead of wobbling up the climbs like the previous lap I was having to walk them as I just didn't have the strength to turn over the gear, a gear that is normally easy for me. I knew I had to stop racing or things would go from bad to worse.

After nearly 12 hours I thought my race was done. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement!

I sat in my pit determined to try and get some more racing in so I switched from my usual liquid nutrition and began pushing solid food and water into my depleted system. Not something I've had to do in the past but every 24 Solo is an adventure. I ate whatever I could get my hands on and I continued to push the fluid until I couldn't face another bite or sip of water. I did that for a couple of hours and had a nap, then ate and drank some more.

Sitting in the pit watching other racers go by was maddening. With only 5 hours of racing left, I wanted to get out on the course for some more vertical gain. Scott (my racing and training buddy and all around great 24hr Soloist and friend) had also faced a tough patch during the early morning, I cut a deal with him that we would go out and do one solidly fun lap together, something we don't normally do in 24's. What a great idea that turned out to be, probably the best time spent on the bike during the weekend. Both of us mashing our singlespeeds up the vertical and then laughing and chatting on the descents. With that lap under our belts we decided to go out for another, we were both keen but already starting to hurt as we went out for the next one.


Approx 17,000' of vertical gain and I was done, I couldn't squeeze out another lap. My body simply didn't want any part of it. It was a bittersweet end to the weekend, I had mentally targeted 26,000-28,000' vertical gain for the weekend and I had fallen well short of that. The upside was I got to race my bikes when I probably should have been at home on meds and hugging a teddy bear, being stubborn and lacking common sense at times worked out in my favour on this one.

I've been back home in Rossland for a few days now, my energy levels are pretty much back to normal and I can competently ride a bike again, phew! It's good to be back in the saddle.

What's up next..? The World Solo 24hr Championships in September. I'll be doing my own cooking leading up to that one, maybe I'll just live on almond butter sandwiches a month out from the event, that whole food poisoning thing was annoying.


Dave said...

I can only imagine how well you would have done healthy. Lucky for the rest of us that you weren't. :)

You were absolutley flying.

Thanks for the last minute advice. I totally needed it.

Shaun Taylor said...

It was all you baby, you slammed that course!

I have no doubt that your Worlds race will be even better, I'll try to keep up.

Cesar Martin said...

Awesome summary of your race Shaun, it was nice to see you and Scott Sunday morning hammering the last lap !! (don't know if you remember though...) See you in September!!

Shaun Taylor said...

Good to hear from you Cesar!

September is going to be epic. Based on your performance at Spokane you are going to do great!!