'07 24 Hour Champion Challenge Race Report
2007 Subaru 24 Hour Champion Challenge
Seven Springs Ski Resort, Champion, PA
September 1 & 2, 2007
9 Laps/5th Place
This race was not on my schedule for 2007. I had no plans of doing a 24 this year at all. The longest race I planned to do was the 18 Hours On The Farm in August, but when it got canceled it was down to a 24 Solo and the SM100. I would have preferred the SM100, but with 24HCC being so close to home, I figured It was probably the most cost effective.
Wifey will ask me every so often what motivates me to do the Solo and Endurance races. Let's face it, I'm a pretty good mountain biker, but I'm not a great one by any means. Hell I feel half ashamed to register for a race in the Expert category. I'm not one to show up for a race looking to take home a podium spot. If it happens- great, but I would have quit long ago if it was just about winning or placing. It's about 1 more lap than last year, a better finishing time, clearing a technical section every time, making a climb, surviving, seeing friends, and having an adventure.
Here's a race recap of how it went down. Just don't expect any podium shots! ;)
Drove up to Seven Springs on Friday afternoon, set up my gear, picked up my race packet etc., The weather was freaking incredible. High 70s, bright sunshine and a light breeze. 100% opposite of the 2006 version. After I was set up, and got my number plates on the Salsa x2 I headed down to my Dad's house and met up with B-Man and Wifey. Spent the night stuffing my face with pasta and mixing up about twelve bottles of Gatorade/Carbo Pro. Then it was off to sleep.
There's nothing like sleeping in your old twin bed, in your old room, in the house you grew up in to give a you a good night's sleep. A good night's sleep and a big case of the heebie-jeebies. Waking up in the middle of the night in a panic wondering if it's possible that the last 15 years was just a dream. If I could only have found my old porn stash....
Anyway, I was glad to sleep in a real bed and wake up race day to spend the a.m. eating breakfast and watching cartoons with B-Man. Then Wifey and I kissed the B-Man goodbye and headed up to the venue to finish setting up and meet up with J.B. who would be roaming the course taking pictures and giving audio updates to Ride424.com.
Talked for a while with camp neighbor Speedgoat Bill who was going Solo too. He was gonna roll a Mamasita. I would be rolling the Dos Niner and have the Mamasita as my back up. Pretty sweet to be surrounded my all that spicy goodness. I was disappointed to hear that Bill crashed during lap one and was forced to bail. Hope he's ok and it was nothing too serious.
I was unsure about who all the other Soloists were. I knew Mike Schultz would be there, and that "The Vegan-ator", Rob Lichtenwalner was there too. I think the total was 14 Male Soloists, but I'm not 100% on that. I really didn't care who was there. I've never once raced against anyone other than myself at a 24, and wasn't going to start now.
The run was the run. I was slow, and happy when it was over. There were folks slower than me. Hard to believe, but true. I think they were all Clydesdale's and Masters. Didn't stop me from turning around before the bike rack and yelling "YEAH! IN YOUR FACE!!!". I'm just kidding of course. I was panting like a dog and happy to be on my bike.
On the bike things felt right as rain. As I said I was using the Dos Niner, with a Reba (set to 100 mm). Tire wise I was using the Panaracer Rampage 2.35 on the front and the Panaracer/IRD Fire Pro on the rear This was the first time I used this tire set up and it rocked! The fat Rampages roll faster than you would think and are the shit going through rock gardens. Wide, big volume and just the ticket. The Fire Pro rear was great for traction too.
After a fast fire road it was right into some sweet twisty single track (that was a blast to ride at night). Then it was a llllong fast descent strewn with chunky loose rocks. The descent got broken up with some sweet single track diversions. It was on one of the descents that I saw Speed Goat Bill on the side of the trail with some blood running down his legs. I yelled to see if he was ok. He said yes, but I would later learn from another SpeedGoatian racer than he had to bail. Bummer.
I was feeling good spinning up the big climb to mile marker 8 and my pit area. On the way up Wifey was there and handed me a bottle as I passed. A little further up the climb Loretta Torres was there screaming "GO BIKEMAN!" I told her "Jesus Christ Loretta you scream more for me than Wifey!". Thanks!
Photo By Love2Ride
Then it was on through a long grassy/double track to more sweet rocky trails. This year was my best year ever making it though the rock gardens (formerly known as Philip Seymour Hoffman Memorial Trail) now known as the "Dos Niner's Bitch". Of course on lap 9 as I tip toed through I think I heard the rocks laughing and saying "who's the bitch now biker boy???" I was hearing a lot of things on that lap, including my own voice screaming "WHAT MADE YOU DO THIS???"
The last mile was a WWWWWWWIDE dusty road through McCondo Land®, up to the lake and to then to the Start/Finish. All in all one of the finest 24 hour courses you can race. It's all rideable when you're fresh, but technical enough to make for a real mountain bike course.
I was feeling super good the first four laps. Having fun and feeling like my goal of 12 laps would be very possible. Around 5:40 p.m. I pitted during my lap to get a light on. I wouldn't need a light for some time, but the rules say that you need to have a light mounted to enter the course after 6. So mounting them at this point saved me the trouble of clocking out to get them on. With the setting sun I decided to get into some new clothes. A new base, jersey and freshly lubed chamois is damn refreshing.
Big thanks to J.B. on the lights. He mounted up his NiteRider Moab on my frame. I think it's the lightest HID I've ever seen. There seems to be a slight design flaw in getting the battery to not slide on the frame and pulling the cord out though. A well placed zip tie next pit fixed that though.
Dos Niner rolling the pre dusk lap. Good shot of the Merckx Chops.I was getting real tired on lap 7 and not riding nearly as well. On the first half of the big climb to my pit I started to get that familiar rush of saliva that says- VOMIT! Well, when you've eaten nothing but liquids and gel all you really do is make a loud gut wrenching noise. It was sort of funny though when I was hoofing it up the climb and a guy pulls up along side me and asks if I had a multi tool he could borrow. I said- "ah, excuse me, WHO-WHAAAAAAAA-GGGGGURRRRL-BLAT!!!! No I don't, sorry man." He really didn't seemed phased by my attempts to vomit and if nothing else just miffed that I had no multi tool. Sorry dude.
Once to the pit, Wifey was ready with more bottles, a bladder refill and some Pepsi. I sat for a few minutes trying to get my stomach to settle. After about 20 minutes in the "camp chair of shame" I went out and finished my lap. About a mile from the line knew it was time to take a brake. I was cold, sick in the stomach, and my eyes could barely stay open. So I checked in and clocked out.
I sat for an hour and shivered in the tent under some blankets. Then I shivered for another hour or so in the Soob. Then I figured what the f*ck, I was warmer riding, so about 4:15 I mounted up, checked in at the tent and went out for another lap.
I felt refreshed and felt like I was making good time. Then I got behind a slower rider in some single track. Once we got to the double track I put the hammer down, got past him and then POOF! The wad was blown. Before you knew it that slower rider passed me like I was standing still. The rest of the lap felt like a my junk got kicked by an irate sexually harassed secretary wearing high heeled shoes. Somehow I got #8 in and then headed out for #9.
I got passed by the Vegan Leg Breaker so many times that it was starting to be a game of how many times Rob L. could pass me. I lost count.
At the 8 mile mark of my 9th lap I told Wifey that the plan was to get the ninth in and then go right out for 10. This was easier said than done. I was walking at least 50% of the course and lap times were sick. This was no longer mountain biking and just survival. I love pushing myself, but when it took me roughly 40 minutes to do roughly 4.5 miles I said "f*ck it". Stopped short of the line, laid the Dos Niner down in the shade, kissed it tenderly on the top tube, said thanks, and waited for the noon check in.
My feet hurt like hell, and I had no energy. So I walked over to my pit, sat my ass down in the sun and talk to Wifey. One would think I would be all disappointed etc., etc., Quite the opposite actually. I knew how hard I pushed. I knew how I performed and I had no regrets. Even though it was the fewest laps (baring last year's hurricane debacle) I've ever done at Seven Springs I felt proud of my nine laps. I hadn't even planned on doing a 24 in 2007 so to do 9 laps on a great course with some great riders was really cool.
Wifey walked to I'm not sure where at the venue and got me a kick ass breakfast burrito and coffee. I slammed that down and then went and sat with my Dos Niner to keep her company until noon.
It was another great race at Seven Springs and I'll most likely be back next year. The support I got from fellow racers was incredible. Since most riders are on a team they don't care if you've done 4 or 16 laps. Most of them are doing about 3 and pushing for that. Big "thank yous" to every racer that passed me with encouraging words.
Big extra special thanks to the two riders that passed me, asked me if I was "The Soiled Chamois" and told me they read the blog. Even though I still get pretty embarrassed to know that folks actually read this digital fish wrap, it meant a lot. Also met a reader/racer named George (who I think I may have met before). Thanks for the kind words man. Appreciated. There was someone else, not sure who, that yelled on more than one occasion "GO MAHOKEY!" Again, that was the tits and a real motivator.
I saw a ton of folks. I passed and then later got passed by Maurice from Dirt Rag, as well as DR editor Karen, a bunch of the fine Speed Goat peeps, and many of the other super fast racers from Western PA.
I also got passed by and shouted Hi ya's with East Coast quick chick "F.F.Amy" who was being, you guessed it F*cking Fast!! I think I saw Fitzy from a distance around noon, but wasn't sure if it was him or not, so I didn't say anything. If that was you dude. HI!
I love this race and look forward to next year. I just wish racing it didn't mean that we're about to put and end to another season. Not sure what 2008 will hold for me. We shall see.
I hope to have some picts from J.B. later in the week. Dude brought some serious digital camera equipment to the race and I'm sure got some killer shots of not just my flabby 9 lap ass, but all the racers. Speaking of, congrats to all the Solo racers (and team racers) that finished. And to those who didn't, you'll get 'em next time! It's just a bike race. Making it to the start line is more than most folks do.
I still have at least one race left in me for 2008, and a bunch of riding. But the Solo efforts are done. Thanks to Wifey for support and encouragement and to Tom for lending me camping gear and a wrenching hand. Time to tip a few or 12 back and eat some bad food on my way to recovery.
Part of me always likes to think that I'll never sign myself up for this sort of punishment again. But as you all know I'm just NOT. THAT. BRIGHT! For me this is what it's all about. This is what keeps me away from the Christmas cookies, pies, whole hams and deep fried turkeys during the winter months. It's what makes me spend 7 hours a week during the winter on the stationary trainer in a cold Stankment®. It's what keeps me going when the job sucks, when the bills mount and I feel like it's time for the old head in the oven trick. Cheers to racing!