Monday, June 22, 2009

24 Hours of Big Bear 2009 - Part II

Time is a funny thing. It does just the opposite of what you want it to do. Four hours never went so fast, before I knew it, it was my time for my second lap. I went out around 9:00 with my Dionette on my helmet and Jamie's HID on the handlebars - lights wouldn't be a problem. But traction would be. Once night settled in, a layer of dew covered all rock surfaces - and at Big Bear there are a lot of rock surfaces, trust me.

Within the first 100 yards, I fell off my bike three times. Everytime I rode over a rock, my bike would slide off. I took some air out of my rear tire which seemed to help a bit. My front derailleur had decided not to work anymore, so I was stuck using my small chain ring. In retrospect, the middle ring would've been better, but I wasn't sure if I had the leg power to push it the whole race.

For a while, I had about three people behind me just for the amount of lumens I was throwing out, but my slow pace and many falls allowed them to move on.

Once I got past the top section of what I refer to as the "rollers" I started heading through some small rock drops that would eventually lead me to the large descent.

On one small rock drop that I had ridden dozens of time, all of a sudden my front wheel stopped moving. Inertia is a funny thing. Though my bike stopped, I did not. Right up and over the handlebars, but luckily I had a nice pile of rocks to break my fall. I think taking years of judo has paid off a hundred times, as it did here. Once tossed off the bike, I tucked my chin and just went with the flip off the bike. As I landed I threw out my arm to dissipate the energy of the fall. I bruised up my forearm pretty badly, but no serious injury just pain.

"You okay?" Where did that come from? As I lay on my back with my bike atop me, I scanned the area and saw a rider off in the woods working on his chain. "Well, a fall like that will wake you up," I responded. What a wit I have.

Back on my bike, and off I went. As I said, time is a funny thing. Why does 2.5 hours of rest feel like 20 minutes, but a 2.5 hour lap time feels like 6 hours? The walk up the final one mile hill felt like 12 miles.

Finally I see the finish tent. All I have to do is ride up and over the old steel bridge. But I relaxed too quickly. As I rode the bridge, a motorcycle decided to gun the throttle. I took a quick look, just long enough to catch my handle bar on one of the bridge supports, tossing me into the side rails. Sheeesh, how embarrassing, but I was too tired to care.

Finished the lap, and Mike took the next one. Warned him of the slickness (a bit of foreshadowing).

Jamie walked my bike back to the campsite for me, where I promptly collapsed into a chair. The cold air quickly turned my sweat cold. I was tired, cold, and hungry, and yet I couldn't move.

I did the math in my head, my next lap was at 4:00 a.m. and I knew I wouldn't recover by then. I had had no sleep up to this point, and my body was shutting down quickly. Dave would be doing the next lap after Mike, and I told Jamie to pass on the message that I needed sleep and wouldnt' be able to go again until 6:00. Jokingly, I mentioned that if Dave wanted to do a double lap that would be just fine with me.

At 4:00 a.m. Dave woke me up at the finish of his lap. He said he would do a second lap if he could borrow my lights. Absolutely no problem!!! Dave got fueled up, we swapped his lights out, and off he went for another lap, two in a row. Can't imagine how he did it. At least I had two more hours for my legs to recover.

To be continued...

Monday, June 15, 2009

24 Hours of Big Bear 2009 - Part I

If it's not one thing, it's another. But I'll get to that later. Not sure if I like the actual riding in 24 hour races, or if it's the preparation, planning, and just hanging out with friends that I like.

Anyway, I had enough gear for a three week epic, unfortunately I was going to be gone for only three days. Arrived at Big Bear, WV on Friday around 2:00 and was amazed by the number of people already set up. Grabbed a camping spot and set up camp.

A couple of hours later Mike arrived. I raced my very first 24 hour race with Mike two years ago. It was good to see him and catch up. Listened to the Pens win the Stanley Cup on the radio while hanging out at the campfire. Was fun to hear all the people cheer and the horns blaring when the Pens won the game. Dave arrived around 11:00, we got him settled then off to bed. Jamie would arrive the next morning to complete our team of four racing in the Veteran category.

I actually got some sleep for a change, and before we knew it, it was time to race. Jamie was going to go first since I was thinking he and Dave would do four laps while Mike and I would do three. I'm not proud, no trouble admitting I'm not the fastest of riders.

Jamie did the Le Mans start and was then off to the singletrack. Lap times were a bit slow as there was about 3/4 inch of rain Thursday night. But about an hour and fifty minutes later we saw Jamie come out of the woods and up on to the metal bridge that dumps the riders to the finish tent. But Jamie seemed to stop before he made it to the top of the bridge, we couldn't really see what happened. Jamie swiped out, Dave swiped in and off he went.

That's when we got some bad news. Jamie had pulled or torn something in his calf while on that bridge. He wasn't sure how serious his injury was.

While Jamie was staying off his leg, I got dressed for my lap. Dave came in from his lap, putting in a really good time. I took off for my first lap. I had Nevagals on the front and back of my bike, but they're bigger tires. Before going to Big Bear, I changed the rear tire to a small block eight hoping for a faster rolling tire. But now with as muddy as the course would be, I was worried that I had made a bad decision.

I went out on the first lap, I tried to not blow up my legs on the first half of the course as it's easy to get sucked into the high energy out on the course. Tires hooked up really well, small block didn't really clog up like I thought it might. I could've pushed harder on this lap, but I knew I would need some energy later. I finished my lap in what for me was a good, solid time.

Mike took over for his lap, and I headed back to get changed and get some food. I felt really good, energy was high, no bonk. Legs were tired, but that was to be expected. Not to be expected was the fact that Jamie's injury was serious enough that he couldn't continue.

We were now a three man team. My curse continued. It was my third 24 hour race in a row where I've had a teammate have to pull out of the race due to injury. My rest time just went from about five hours to about three hours. To be continued...