24 Hour Nationals
Race Course and Condition:
Moab, Utah. The land of rocks and sand. Rain early in the week before the race had left the typical dusty conditions padded down and perfect to ride, but the sun came out late on Thursday to dry up the course again by Saturday.
The course is a roughly 14.5 mile loop on mostly desert jeep trails that is packed with short little climbs, littered with rock sections with very little flat sections.
With a course this long, and in the desert, one has more to take into consideration as far as fuel and emergency trail side repairs go. Most 24 hour race courses take about 50 minutes to an hour, this lap easily takes over an hour and fifteen minutes late in the race.
Saturday, noon. Seconds before the start, I realize I didn’t take my asthma medication and that I didn’t have anything covering my mouth to protect me from the dust I was getting ready to inhale during the Le Mans style running start.
The gun goes off, and a guy wearing a full gorilla suit takes the lead in the run, I get to my bike and make fast work up to the top 40 or so guys. Josh Tostado and Kelly Magelky are already in full flight.
Things soon clear out and I am making my way through traffic slowly but surely. Game plan was to ride steady, not max things out too early in the game.
I soon catch up to solo riders both wearing the same white kits. I pass them, they pass me. This goes on and on for several hours and laps. I decide to back off just a bit, let them go and save my full out effort for later.
7pm – 10pm
Things are going south for me real fast at this point. My legs and body feel great, but my asthma has kicked in full force and my stomach is not feeling that great and it is throwing my fuel plan way off. I stop in the pits, contemplate what is going on, take my asthma medication and have some coffee.
At around 8:30pm, I pit and contemplate stopping. I was about 2 minutes away from pulling the plug when everybody around me was telling me to go on despite me looking cross eyed. (They later tell me that they have seen me look a lot worse).
I pedal on through the lap, not feeling super duper great, but my condition is not getting worse, which seemed like a good thing at the time.
I stop in the pit again, put on some warm clothing, eat some food, drink some strong coffee and take some Pepto to settle my stomach.
Pushing on through the lap, I start feeling a lot better. I am concentrating more on my lines and thinking about the sunrise then I am about my stomach. Things seem to be getting better.
I focus on being fueled, not crashing my brains out on the rocks and making an effort in the early morning. Strong coffee and the thought of daylight and closure to the endurance season was my motivation to finish out the race.
I was now sitting in 11th spot, far back from the 5th spot I was battling for early in the race. I was thinking more about getting to the finish line then I was at a podium spot at this point.
I always love seeing the sun come up in the morning during a 24 hour race as it seems like the end is so near and it gives me an extra kick in my pedal stroke.
Passing through the pits I grab some food and a warmer vest. As I am leaving, I hear a random person in the pit say something to the effect of “he is really slowing down and loosing positions.” I was sitting in 9th at the time and to be honest, I don’t know if he was talking about me or not, but it sent a spark of rage through me. I was going to go all out for this. My lungs felt clear of the asthma and I felt good.
I am soon catching riders here and there, their plate numbers are low, so I know I am making up spots. I don’t make chit chat, I pedal as hard as I can past them and don't look back.
Going out for what I thought was my next to last lap, I was now up to 7th place, only 5 minutes behind 5th spot. I strip off my warm clothing, shout instructions to my pit crew and I am out of my tent and soon in a full sprint towards the first rocky climb of the day.
Just before I hit the climb, I catch 6th spot which happened to be one of the riders I was dooking it out with 22 hours earlier. With an all out effort, I sprint as far as I could all the way up the climb not allowing myself to look back until I got over the short climb. When I turned around, he was not in sight.
Continuing the same pace, I pedal on and soon catch his teammate for 5th. I waited for a section of little roller climbs and a clear section of trail. I jumped hard, pedaled through the short climbs and looked back 10 minutes later. Not in sight.
Full out effort at this point, I wanted my 5th spot to stick. Thinking I still had another lap to go, I was somewhat confused by all the happy screaming faces coming down pit row as I came near the start finish.
When I swiped my card for the last time they said “great job!” and I had to ask them twice if it was over as I was somewhat confused by fact that it was over.
Tough day on the bike. Would be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed with my asthma situation hitting me so early putting a damper on a chance at a top 3, but happy at how things worked out at the end. 5th at 24 Hour Nationals.