Hardcore 24 - June 17/18, 2006
The Heat. My God The F-ING HEAT!!!!
The Hardcore 24 (Solo)
June 17/18, 2006
Packed up the E. with all the gear, B-Man and Wifey and headed up to Naples, NY on Friday a.m. Trip was a tad long and B-Man got a little cranky, but not too bad since he took advantage of the Father's Day gift he bought me (a portable DVD player) and watched Herbie about 5 times in two days.
Got up to Camp Cutler site of the my first solo 24 of the season late Friday afternoon and set up camp close to the course in the "RV section" The Element qualified as an RV/Camper due to the HC24 guys being super cool. Our spot was great and could be utilized as a 3/4 way stop or stop about 200 yards from the check in.
Once all set up I took the Dos Niner out to check out the course. At first I was not impressed. It started on a section of wood chips (which usually = splinter flats) then hit some double track followed by a nice single track climb up to a grass section. There were a couple grassy sections on the 8.5/9 mile course and they were energy suckers for sure, but the rest of the course was so kick ass that I can't hold that against 'em.
The course had some fast rocky descents, some pretty long granny gear/walking climbs, nice, flowing, rocky, rooty single track and a couple super sweet pine forest areas that were amazing. Like I said baring the couple grass sections the course was great and one of the best 24 hour course I've ever done. Not too short, not too long and a bunch of stuff to keep you on your toes. It was the balls.
Piddling around on the pre ride it took me just under one hour. It was pretty hot during the pre ride. but not nearly as hot as it would be at Saturday's noon start.
After we got up on Sat. I set off to cut some weight, on my way I saw the familiar face of Bob Anderson (who I've race with a few times) It was great to see Bob. He and his family had just arrived from Virginia so I pointed him over our way to set up camp. It was nice to have a friendly, familiar face as a pit neighbor. Of course it also meant the competitiion just got kicked up a notch. (BAM!).
I then got the El Santo all prepped for the race. The Dos was fabulous during the pre-ride, but I figured the roots and rocks would take it's toll on my bod, so I'd just go with the red hot 26" wheeled latino broad that brung me. Plus there were some sections that would require some quick front shifting and I'm not sold on the SRAM front deraileur/X.0 Twists for accurate front shifting yet. The rear rocks, but front needs some work.
By the 11:15 racer meeting the sun was blazing! They said the temps would hit about 93*. YIKES!!! Just last week I was riding in sub 70* weather, NOW I was about to race in 90+ degrees. Like I said, YIKES!!!
There were about 15 or more Solos. Bob was the only one I recognized. At noon we set off on a short run to the bikes that were sat near the Boy Scout's ampitheatre and headed out into the woods. I half ass jogged to the bike then strapped on my hydration pack. I had thought about going sans pack, but opted for a pack filled with Heed once I heard how f-ing hot it was going to be. I also went with a bottle of Perpetuem/Gel to nurse through about every 2 or 3 laps. In the heat it would have been nice to not have any added weight on my bod, but I figured I'd be more apt to drink if it was easy to access.
Once we hit the first sun exposed grassy climb it was apparent that until late afternoon the heat was going to be INNNNNtense.
I backed off from my normal slow pace to a slower below normal granny gear turtle pace. Easing my way up the climbs, seeking shade wherever possible. That fast, shaded descents were a blessing, and a chance to cool the pits off.
I was feeling good dyspite the heat, and at lap 2 I stopped for fresh Heed, a Balance Bar and to sponge off with some ice water that Wifey had ready for me. Speaking of Wifey, chicky is the Pit Queen in my book. As soon as I would pull in, she had a fresh cold bladder ready, water, Red Bull, Endurlytes, Advil, etc., Thanks babe!! Now back to racing...
After lap 4 the heat was REALLY kicking my ass. The course was a blast but it was so f*ing HOT!! At the lap 4 pit stop I desided to be safer than sorry and sit in the shade of the pop up with some Ice water and towel off with a cold water soaked towel. This was a good Idea and many other's had done the same.
Lap 5 I felt refreshed, turned a nice lap, and beat the 6:00 deadline for lights. Nice to be able to get another lap in with no lights stuck to my skull.
Lap 6 was the opposite of everything lap 5 was. I felt like I got hit by a 16 wheeled truck full of hot feecus. I was really in the red. I thought I would be feeling better at this time of day and I now I felt worse! During this lap I stopped many times to think about puking. I could also pretty much keep my heart rate just by hearing thump in my head. I made it back to the pit and at the 3/4 lap mark to get lights ready.
I tried to take my time getting the lights ready. Ate some solids, took some more Advil and after about 10 minutes headed back out finish lap 6 still not feeling good but plugging along I made it back to the check in and headed out for lap 7.
Lap 7 gets it's own paragraph title. I call it...
"Lap 7, The Undoing"
As I clocked in for Lap 7 (The Undoing) I got a little shot of mojo as the announcer calls out my number, and gives we Solo riders some props for churning out the laps. That "mojo" lasted about oh .25 of a mile. And my legs were moving, but I was barely going forward, I made it up most of the first single track hill and then started walking up (a climb I middle ringed on the first lap).
As I made it to the grassy up hill, Bob passed me me chatting to me as we were climbing. I knew he had been in 1st for a while, leap frogging with some kat from Fisher on a 29er. As we crested the hill Bob riding and me walking several bike lengths away I wished him luck and watched him pedal steadily off. (Mental Blow #1, lapped by leader).
About 5 minutes later as I pushed my bike up the hill Fisher 29er Dude passes me (Mental Blow #2, passed by 2nd place rider) He gives some words of encouragement and I tell him if he wants to catch Bob he's about 5 minutes ahead of him. I immediately regret this, since I consider Bob a mate and feel like I shouldn't have given this dude any info. Oh well, just trying to be friendly. Dude was rocking the 29er HT so he did have it going on.
All I could think about was getting back to the pit and sitting my ass down. That lap was from hell. Totally spent when I plopped down at the 3/4 mark in pit. Wifey got me some water, and some ice water to cool down with. I was shivering and it was 85* out. I changed into a dry jersey and a base to ward off any night time chillyness (yeah right!) and headed out at as snails pace.
It was usually only about a 12-15 minute ride from the pit to the finish, but this one took forever. I knew I didn't want to clock out, but wasn't sure HOW I was gonna make it another 3/4 of a lap to the pit.
Lap 8 "Fin"
Started lap eight with all the same lack of gusto that 6 & 7 had. EVERYTHING was a struggle. The single track I found so fun and bombed down the first 5 laps was a chore to even look at. I dreamed about laying down in the weeds to sleep. Some of the views were so nice I would actually stop (we're racing here!!) to watch the final glint of sun duck behind the mountains. I was also "vurping" up some stuff that I can only compare to what rotting bile must taste like.
I made it to the pit, sat down and knew. It was over. My body had beyond shut down. It wasn't even midnight. I was 15 to 25 minutes away from completing 8 laps. I was shivering and cold (temps now in the high 70s and I was cold- bad sign) I was getting some sort of blockage in my right ear, where I would lose the hearing or at least there was some sort of fluid build up. I was also cramping like a mofo, even though I was downing Endurlytes and HEED.
I sent Wifey to bed and sat and stared at the lights of the lantern for 10 minutes or so. I didn't see HOW my body would bounce back and did NOT see the importance of getting an 8th lap in when the winner would most likely get 16+ laps in. I got out of my shoes and did the walk of shame to the check in, handed in my baton and took my first ever DNF.
The guys at the check in tried to convince me to hang on to it and even said it would be there if I changed my mind. I just wanted a shower, food and to put this experience behind me.
The heat was just way harder than I expected for a race like this. The amount of fluid I lost was amazing- Even after drinking and eating Saturday night and all day Sunday, I weighed myself when I got home and I was down about 5 or 6 pounds. That's WITH eating and drinking all day.
I continued to have the ear issues all a.m. and was still cramping like crazy. I've had race were I felt like shit, but to happen this early and this drastic was frightening. I have to think I did the right thing. Too many potential signs for disaster. It's a long season and this is just one race.
When we left Sunday a.m. I said farewell and good luck to Bob during one of his pit stps. He was up about 2 laps on Fisher 29er Dude. I hope he held on and got the win. He and his Wife are real good people and an inspiration to us family guys gettin' our race on. Not to mention you gotta love seeing a 40 year old dad lay the smack down on the youngsters! Go Bob!
The El Santo was just incredible. Never missed a shift, and made those rocky down hills even smoother. As I said above Wifey gets some serious props for her job in the pits. B-Man even did a great job hanging in the pits keeping and eye on things and only crying a few time 'cause he was homesick.
All and all I can't say enough about the race, the venue and the folks from Park Ave. Bikes. One hell of a job. Great course, great prizes for the winners, and friendly. The Camp Cutler venue was great with real toilets, showers and free camping. They were fast on the results, friendly, and went out of their way to make sure racers had an awesome experience no matter where they finished (if at all, ha!)
The only thing about this DNF is thinking what could I have done differently and realizing I have no f*cking clue! I mean I did all the right things. Took it easy in the heat, hydrated, took in electrolytes, ate, rode well, aced much of the course and had way more pit support from Wifey than I thought.
I can't control the heat, I can only do what I know how to do. Sill had fun getting to ride some new trails, see some familiar faces and go take my family to a place we'd never been before, just 'cause I dig racing my bike. The Finger Lake area of NY is amazing! Nothing around for miles and so beautiful! Which led me to ask Wifey this question. "With a state this beautiful, why do like billion people cram on to that stinking island??"
The ride home sucked and seemed to take forever. I ended my McDonald's boycott and had 2 Egg McMuffins on the way home. (1st McDonald's I've had since 3 summers ago driving to Colorado). Time to start a new boycott since the ephers gave me some serious heart burn. McDonald's = The Great Satan.
Thanks to all my sponsors, Wifey and B-Man and to all of you who sent good vibes my way. I appreciate it.
Now let's Photo Blog this shit...
B-Man, all packed and ready to go.
Me and the pit crew, pre-race.
Bike, and pack ready to get going.
End of the run.
Here we go.
Great view off the left on one piece of single track.
Nice single track.
Coming down some final bits of double track close to the end of a lap.
Leaving that same bit of double track.
The B-Man, sacked out.
The light that I stared at for about 10 minutes before I pulled the plug on the effort.