Lap Seven – fear the night
Time to start picking things up as the night comes and temperatures start to fall. On my first complete lap in darkness, I fall hard twice on the single track section a few miles in. Ruts you can see during the day are now invisible. I decide that after bailing twice that I would take it easy through these sections until darkness is no more.
Lap 8 through 6am Sunday – 12 hours that I don’t recall
I peddle through the night, keeping a steady pace, but losing ground on the leaders. I’ve somehow slipped back to 9th place in the darkness.
I was able to get fresh clothes on around 2am, and actually had to put on some arm warmers as although it was warm when I was climbing, there were a few low spots that got very chilly. Very odd to be sweating one minute and freezing 30 seconds later – in the east, you are either one or the other.
During the night, I pass numerous riders who appear to be suffering the effects of the heat and the effort – the riders are swerving all over, some appear in-coherent, one rider was sleeping, and others are walking in a daze. In between all this madness, I catch up with Brandon who later pulls out – he’s the first to pull out that I know of due to the heat and stomach issues.
6am – light brings rebirth
At first light, I learn the news – the two aussie’s (claxson and bell) are out, along with many others, due to the heat. They were suffering from severe dehydration – many riders had to be taken out via ambulance. (Later heard from my pit crew that many riders were throwing up, were not able to talk/walk, etc.)
I’m now up to 7th place, and I get mad at myself. I can’t give up so easily.
I sprint out of the pits convinced I could make up ground.
The temps have not risen yet, but sunlight is creeping out. My eyes can now see the ruts that I feared earlier in the day and I’m now flying through sections I feared. My legs have come back.
4 hours and 3 laps later –
I’m now sitting in 4th place, now roughly only 4-5 minutes behind Nat. Two laps to go.
The temperatures at 10am now jump back up to at least 90 degrees – I lose the arm warmers and base layer. I start chasing Nat, and Hendershot starts chasing me.
One lap to go –
At this point, I am on cruise control – not taking any risks on the tight single track, but going hard on the climb.
In the final miles, I see smoke in the distance, then airplanes zooming less than 500 feet above my head.
It doesn’t immediately click to me as to what is going on until I top one of the last climbs of the day – a fire has started just outside of where the race track/pits are.
Very surreal ending to a very surreal day – a blazing fire at the end of a long 24 hours where I ended up 4th on a day where just 6 hours before I was sitting in 9th place.
thanks to my pit crew (dad, tom and dan the man) and for everybody who cheered me on.
and to all the solo freaks out there that day in monterey - that was one hell of a race.
next 24 hour race... stay tuned...