The day started like any other race day for Jen and I; some strong coffee, choking down a 600 calorie paste, trying to listen to some music to get my head straight and some half hearted hellos to other racers... This was this big one for me, I had pretty much tailored the rest of my season around this race and had some pretty big personal goals that I really wanted to achieve. I wanted to set a new course record and win the race. Jen had a personal goal of doing seven laps and repeatedly told me she didn't care about anything but "I want that trophy."
Do it, do it!
Up until I heard D-wayne was racing I was really planning on pacing myself, but trying to capitalize on what I thought would be his biggest weakness decided to get in front on the first lap and put the screws to him. I guessed that going really hard would probably do the most damage to his legs that weren't fully recovered from the monster effort he put out two weeks ago. I was really fresh and rested and knew I could recover from an early effort. I was hoping to bank as much time as I could by turning 1:15 minute laps in the first 8 hours so that my lighting transition time and night laps could be way slower. I needed to pull off a 1:20 average to get in before 9 pm to do 10 laps. We lined up for the Le mans start and I wished him luck.
I was about 6th into the woods and it was on. The legs were there. A group of us opened up a little gap quick and I was feeling "it" so I pushed. I would yo-yo D-wayne and then put in a little bit of an effort to get out his sight around the next corner. I tried a couple times without going to deep in the first 4 miles but he would slowly creep back up. We were XC racing with the wicked fast riders on the first lap and it was rad. I hit my 24 minute pace marker at less than 18 minutes and other than sweating heavily I was feeling like it was going to be a great day.
I didn't see too much of Dwayne after the second big climb, or as I came though the rock garden, popped out on the dam and was about 10 minutes ahead of my pace marker. I let myself down and glanced over my shoulder before I went back into the woods across the dam and he hadn't even came out of the woods yet- I figured I had about a 30+ second gap and continued to ride just below my LT trying to stay out of the red. I was riding smooth and not making any poor mistakes. The course was dry, hard packed and super fast.
Liz, Peetey, Jill, Taylor and Gauge were a full on NASCAR style pit crew and were committed to doing anything to help me achieve my goals which was awesome and I can't thank them enough for being so willing to help. I came through for my first lap at 1:05:50 (not incl. the run), handed the all star crew my bike, logged in and jumped on not wasting a second to open a cooler or grab a bottle. I was relaxed and later learned that I had a 1:30 lead after lap one.
It was time to dial it back and find some rhythm. I slowly began to pull in the reigns and concentrate on pacing myself. Jen and I had listened to a really great Phish cover of Joe Walsh's Walk Away before the race where Trey was just drilling this repetitive groove while segueing into it and it was looping though my head. I knew that I had a decent gap and that Dwayne would have to really work a little to catch me and was banking on him letting me go. His pace would be almost the same as mine so I was more focused on just getting my shit together than trying to putting more time on him knowing that we would be going back and forth all day. I hit the top of the double track climb at 21 minutes which was slower than the first lap but 4 minutes faster than my 1:15 lap pace. I got into the second section of the course and was riding smooth. Things were looking good.
I came though the rock garden and was just spinning in my middle ring on flat ground when I heard my tire spraying Stans. I kept riding on knowing that the Stans would do the job. It didn't. I stopped and tried to clog up the hole a little bit. When that didn't work I added a little CO2 to it and then it blew the Stans out in one big puddle. I had a gash under a tread on the brand new tires. I fumbled for a tube trying to stay calm and reassuring myself that I was less than 2 hours into a 12 hour race.
In 2003 I came up on Ryan Pirtle early on the first lap who had a flat and an empty CO2, I had an extra and give him one. I flatted later in the lap and was back on track in no time. I had really no expectation since it was my first 12 hr race and wasn't the heady endurance freak I created and am now. About 1.5 miles from the finish I flatted again and ran up the final climb. I dropped back at least 4 places but still went on to win.
Back to lap 2
So I take my wheel off and start working on it and Dwayne rolls up all smiles and is totally bummed at my misfortune. I literally had to threaten him to get back on his bike and race, it is a race and those are the breaks. I yank my UST valve out and get my tube in and give it some air. More leakage and the gash is bigger than it looked. I keep my tubes folded up with a tire lever and elastic band and it looks as though I had bent the valve and it was cooked. I try to add a little more air from my only 40 gram Big Air cannister and it's empty at this point. Run 5 miles? It sounded good for about 50 yards but after hearing my wheel bouncing off rocks and feeling the pain in my shins I walk. That's when #2 Jeremiah Bradshaw comes by, and so on.
Thank everyone that asked me if I needed any help, and my aren't there a lot of 29'ers out there! No little tubes for you!. Really though. I personally don't feel right screwing up someone else's race because I am unprepared. You paid your $50 bucks and lap 2 on a 12 hr race the adrenaline is rockin' and you are hoping your team gets out in front for bragging rights. I didn't want to ruin anyones party. If it was later in the race, people are in survival mode and the race is decided for a lot of folks then that's a different story, but it wasn't the case. I will learn from my mistakes.
Jen and I did quite a bit of hiking when we were in Kauai in April and I complained about it. I don't like to run nor do I like to hike. I like to ride my bike. I hiked the 5+ miles and realized that now I couldn't achieve the one goal I was really hell-bent on doing, setting a new record, and slowly the realization crept in. Slowly the blisters began to develop between my toes and my legs began to get heavy. My shins are what keep me from running and they were screaming. Knowing that I was going to be almost an hour behind, an hour off my nutrition, and was going to take me at least 15 minutes to get my bike back together I started to get pretty down.
More than anything I wanted to race D-wayne and see what both of us were made of. I wanted it to be 12 hours of racing, not me lapping the field and winning by hours instead of minutes. But it wasn't going to be. My shins and feet were really feeling it as I climbed up the hill and handed in my baton. I knew I could get back on and maybe even claw my way up to a podium spot but my goals were shattered and my head wasn't in it so I opted to watch Jen race and kick it with some friends. About 10 minutes after I hung it up for the day D-wayne came though and it crushed me to see how disappointed he was to see me sitting there. Sorry man.
Watching one of these races unfold
Jen was rocking it and it was really cool to be able to help her out a little bit. These races are so much different when you aren't racing them. The solo race was actually pretty close up until about 3pm when Jeremiah sat down and didn't get up. He had been within 10 minutes of Dwanye all day but the 6 hour mark is definitively a breaking point in these races. I think many riders set this is a marker and give themselves a break when they hit it, but one you stop moving you REALLY stop moving. I was surprised to see Dwayne sitting down for about 5 minutes in between laps and eating. I get so focused during these races I don't like to stop and I pretty much keep to myself but every lap he sat down Dwayne and I talked about this and that proving what a nice laid back dude he is. I wondered to myself if it would have been different if I was still racing?
I was asked to sub a lap for Tom Albert and John Rines team and reluctantly did. Chris had set a blazing fast 1:01:40 lap and I wanted to see if I could come anywhere close. I figured the beer would be that much colder if I felt like I earned it a little, funny when you consider 38 miles to be not much of a ride... I struggled for the first ten minutes to warm my legs up which were heavy and burning but once I did I started to feel pretty good and passed a bunch of people. The course was in rough shape and much looser then it was in the morning, pretty tough to rail some of the turns. My lower back has been really bothering me lately and it was on fire. Going from balls kitty>walking>sitting for 2 hours>bezerker balls kitty is really hard. I don't know how guys on the wicked fast teams can handle this. My Garmin gave me a 1:05:40 lap time, which was pretty quick but WAY harder than my first lap... I was wasted.
The real racing begins...
It takes awhile for things to unfold in these races and by the time I got back the race was over for lots of folks. Cramping, crashing, mechanicals, and wasted legs had whittled the field down considerably. Jen was cruising non-stop and had her eyes on the prize. She was on schedule to come in before 9 but I was really questioning if she would tough it out for another night lap with no one pushing her but herself. Dwayne was on auto pilot and just needed keep turning the pedals to finish up 9 laps and win his first Burnin! The DRJ wicked fast trio was in a close race with Bruns, Best and Davis and the lead kept changing.
Jen came through for her lighting transition and was looking really fresh, it was the first time she had stopped all day as I put on her lights. She was headed out on #6 at 6:17pm and at a 2 hr pace would set her up perfectly for a womens solo record!
When she came in at 8:15 I was amazed that she just kept moving and didn't even consider stopping, she really wanted to earn the trophy and was setting her personal goal which made me unbelievably happy. I told her all she had to do was ride safe and finish this lap and she would do what she said out to do and beat most over 1/2 of the men!
The DRJ/Double D and the B cups race was in full effect and Chris set out at 8:45 with a 40 second lead on fast man Doug Davis who had some blown legs. DRJ won a battle at RIM on the last lap due to a mechanical and I'm sure CP had this in the back of his mind when he set out... But that didn't stop him from stopping to help out a girl on the trail who couldn't get her wheel back on after a flat with his race on the line!
I think D-Wayne finished up 9 laps in around 12:45, Jen came in with with her record setting ride in 13:30 minutes and the party began! I was amazed that in his first attempt Zach Brace finished up 7 laps in just over 11 hours, upset that Matt Keeven doesn't get his breakthrough finish and impressed that the two top solo guys had raced a 24 hour race two weeks before. Nice job Mitch!
Nice job to you all but especially to Dwanye and Jen, you guys continue to impress me. While it was hard to handle having my season end this way it made it much better watching the two of you do your thing and succeed.
Thanks so much to everyone that was there to support me. Robert, Liz, Peetey, Gauge and Taylor Edwards and Jill Barry- thanks so much! You made the racing part easy and worry free and the defeat even more so. I had a blast!
So that's about it for me. One more mtb race at Land Between the Lakes then it's time to relax, do some cross racing and start thinking about next year. What an unreal event the 2007 Burnin' was!