|Don't judge me, I've been awake for 27 hrs...:)|
To begin, this was a race I was really looking forward to - as I missed it last year due to the Tour Divide, I was happy to be able to set a goal for this one. I felt I had done the homework and was ready to have a good go at the full 24 hrs., but it has been just over a year since Old Pueblo and my last 24, so I was still unsure as to what the night would bring. Old Pueblo was a toughy for me, and it took me into a pretty dark place around 2 AM, so I had to recall that emotion, and ensure that I avoided the trap.
12 PM arrived on Saturday, and it was go time. I had set up a small pit area, not too comfy in the hopes that I wouldn't want to linger. Just a couple of coolers for drinks, and some food, and a chair to hold my chamois butter (essential), lube, rag, and rain jacket. My plan was for liquid calories and gel for 90% of my fuel, and snacks just to keep my stomach working and interested. (nuts, dried fruit, cheesestrings....really...bananas, and little nut butter sandwich pieces - I find it amazing how much I crave the cheesestrings, cuz in my daily life they are not something I ever choose ...)
My bike was ready and set up with 1x10 gears, and it was ready to ride happily for 24 hrs. - or so I told him...;) and I put on my comfiest BikeZone kit; we were off...
The huge field of starters always makes my HR soar before the gun goes off. I was standing still at 115 bpm - whew - nervous! Then, as soon as the gun goes off and we start pedaling, things settle down a bit. I did go out a little harder than I should have - I kept trying to force the HR down but excitement and adrenalin always take over - but this is where it is most crucial to play smart. I didn't want to burn out fast. Funny too, how the first 4 hours always feel kinda crappy, and then magically, you zone out, keep pedaling, and one race blends into another, and another, and you just keep going.
I was pretty cooked with the heat and humidity in the first daylight hours, and was really happy as night fell - cooling us off a bit, though I never added any clothing - it really didn't cool off that much...The night brought renewed excitement. I had been fueling really well, for the most part trying to stick with the plan, but my stomach was feeling like garbage. I tried eating a little to no avail, but forced myself to keep drinking in calories. My preference for flavors was changing and as soon as I settled on what I could stomach, I felt much better, and the headache went away. My hands were doing OK as well, no major pain, but the odd shooting nerve discomfort. The really rooty, bumpy course was starting to take it's toll. No major excitement in the night - I got slower as was predicted; I felt good, I felt bad, I felt good again - rollercoaster...I think I was still riding well, but slow, and the bike was doing it's job, but had started to make some awful creaking from the rear or crankset/BB - for awhile I thought it may be cracked, but in the end, I think it's the BB - still gotta look into it - I have been very negligent this past week :)
When the AM started to roll around, I distinctly remember hearing the first bird wake up - 4:45 AM, and I was happy to hear it! The mornings of 24 hour races are always awesome. Not just the sunrise, but the slow swelling of energy that comes with the new light. Everything comes alive. A different alive than the dark, hidden and scurrying night creatures - the early morning is totally invigorating! You can feel yourself, despite being totally shattered, coming back to strength again. It's once again, a whole new race.
I think I managed to speed up a little, but I was tired, and just hoping to make it to noon. Funny how I can look at my watch and say to myself, "awesome! just 6 more hours... No problem..." when usually, a 6 hr. ride seems pretty darn long...
I knew I was ahead by a bit in standings, but I didn't want to analyze this too much, cuz really, anything can happen out there, so I just focused on continuing to ride. And so I did, until 11:10 AM, when I decided I was ready to stop. There was time for one more lap I know, and it will haunt me, but my body was done. The vibration of the roots had made my forearms and hands so sore - mostly my skin itself had started to feel bruised, so I decided it was a good time to end the day - 17 laps in - over 23 hours of riding - 300 and some odd KMs of great trail, (thanks Chico for a great course - challenging!!) and some really tired legs ;)
I was really happy with my effort on this one, and am already focusing on ways to improve for the next. It was Amazing with a capital A to receive the awards from the Queen of Pain herself, Rebecca Rusch - I have admired her riding for a long time, and it was really cool to have her there in person! Such a great ambassador for our sport...
My fellow solo ladies ( and men!) did an amazing job out there - I am sure they felt the effects of the heat just as I had, and continued to push themselves on - they call us 'Solo', but I think really we are all in it together, so in a way, I feel like I am on a team - a merry band of crazy people who like to ride for 24 hrs. ;)) Great ride everyone!
Big thanks to Chico racing once again for a fantastic race. Love, love, love it!
Big thanks also to the BikeZone for helping me get going, and keeping me motivated to keep riding my beautiful bike everyday :)
Already looking for the next 24, but I think I'll plan on a few months at least in between :)