Tuesday, June 16, 2009
24 Hours of Big Bear
With this year's racing season being focused around the Granny Gear 24 Hour National Point Series, I was extremely nervous all week about racing at Big Bear. If you have never been around one of these races there is a lot that you might be unaware of as far as preparation goes. Besides physically being able to race for this long EVERYTHING needs to be PERFECT or at least near perfect for the race to be a success. That goes for having the proper nutrition during the race, having a backup bike in perfect condition at all times, and having a pit crew to take care of all of this plus provide split times, encouragement, a little bit of love, and sometimes a cruel sense of humor to keep you going if things get bad.
Saturday morning, race day, I woke up with a sore throat and a little bit of sinus congestion... just what I wanted to start off with for a 24 hour race. Instead of thinking about it too much I ignored it as best as possible and kept the not so good feelings to myself. This was not going to affect my race. We rolled into our pit area after breakfast and my parents began to set up as I lounged around and hung out with Rob, who saved us a kick ass spot to pit in on the first section of singletrack. The morning seemed like it was dragging on forever waiting for the race to start, but soon enough it would be time for the LeMans (running) start, which I would rather take a time penalty than participate in, but unfortunately that is not an option. Altough I despise this kind of start, I was the 3rd person to my bike after the run. No too bad for a short legged boy. Only two others were ahead, Josh Tostado and somebody riding for a duo team. After the first few miles of trail, I settled into the pace I would attempt to hold for the remaining 23 hours and however many minutes remained. Everything was going smoothly as planned and the course was a blast to ride. It was almost all singletrack with a few rocky sections, 4 or 5 steep short climbs, one breath taking downhill, and a little bit of West Virginia mud. My Cannondale 29'er handled the course flawlessly and would eventually be backed up by my Scalpel for whenever I needed that little bit of rear suspension to take the edge off. After finishing my third lap I pulled into my pit to see that Jocelyn had made it to the race and was already helping my parents help me. I grabbed a quick bite to eat, collected my bottles, gave her a big muddy kiss, and went back to business. After a few more laps it would be time to mount Betty on my helmet and ride off into the night. This is the part I always dread during a 24 hour race. The night will either make you or break you. Since I tried to conserve as much as I could during the day, I planned to keep the pace steady at night and try to make some time on Josh who now had about a 20 minute gap on me. Pushing on through the night I felt better every lap and for the most part was able to keep an awareness of everything that was going on around me. After midnight I made an extended stop to sing Happy Birthday to my Mom! Gotta love her for putting up with this kind of nonsense, especially on her birthday. After that it was time for another lap and some more suffering. Everything was hurting as usual, but my attitude remained positive the entire time. Towards the end of the night I was beginning to gain back some time on Josh and I was prepared for this to be a race to the end between us. However this was not the case as Josh had cramped up badly just before sunrise and was forced to stop, leaving me with the lead, 2 laps up on 2nd place. As much as I would have liked to take this race to the very end, I felt a sign of relief and was able to back off of the gas a little and try to enjoy my final few laps on the course. I finished my final lap at 9:30a.m. after my dad had figured out that it would be impossible to be caught after this time. This concluded my first big win of the season and gave me a huge confidence boost for the next stop in the Granny Gear series at 24 Hours of 9 Mile next month. I am already looking forward to doing this again! And big thanks to my parents and Jocelyn for the support this weekend, you're the best. I could not do these races without you.