I don’t race much, the plan is 2 races this year, the Lemurian and this last weekend the Coolest 24. For some reason 24 hour races are a fascination with me. The last few years I’ve done 4 man and 5 man team 24 Hour events. This year I decided to step it up a notch and race on a 2 man team, a big step up actually going from 3 hour breaks between laps to 1 hour and going from 5-6 laps for the race to 9+. At 12+ miles and 1500′ of climbing per lap, that’s a lot of riding. My team mate was a friend of mine I’ve been riding with for about a year now named Seth. I’ve been quite anxious about this race and my personal fitness and weight over the last few months. Not seriously training, just focusing on getting long rides in on the weekends and riding 8 miles to and from work every day.
Seth is faster than me and as such I had him do the first lap. Overall a great choice. Seth managed to be in the top 10 of the team riders out of the gate and then got back in 5th overall at 55 minutes, giving me a traffic free first lap. We managed to stay ahead of most of the traffic, leaving the dust and constant passing to the other teams. My times were about on par with the second place team but Seth continued cranking out amazing lap times, putting 10 minutes per lap on the second place team. By sunset our team was 30 minutes ahead of the second place team.
After sunset we started doing double laps. Seth got off to a bad start and had some problems with his lights and wound up coming back to the RV to swap out for his backup light. When he sees me Seth jokes “Hey, I didn’t know you were at this race too!” Referring to the fact that we’d seen each other for perhaps 10 seconds each lap prior to then. Then he tells me “Dude, we’re 45 minutes ahead of the second place team. It’s game on now.” Up to that point we’d just been trying to finish, neither of us had really seriously thought about being competitive.
Then it was my turn to pull a double for my 5th and 6th laps. The first lap was ok, maybe a little slower than my previous laps but not too bad. My second lap was tough. On previous laps I wasn’t worried about eating mid-lap. I would just eat enough between laps. I did eat on that lap but perhaps not enough or maybe too much between laps. I’m not sure. In any case when I finished my second lap, I was in bad shape.
I limped back to the RV and could feel my legs right on the verge of cramping up. I managed to shovel down a little food, some chocolate milk, then I got out of my sweat soaked riding clothes and crawled into bed and tried to eat a bowl of oatmeal. I was shivering uncontrollably and trying in vain to find a position I could put my legs in without them cramping up. Beyond anything else I just couldn’t seem to get warm. In spite of this, sleep claimed me with a half eaten bowl of oatmeal in my hand. Seth came in about 70 minutes later and I woke up still clutching the bowl which had somehow managed to not spill. He had more light trouble and had wound up following someone else in. I was so zonked and still hurt. I couldn’t even get out of bed to help him track down my spare light. When he left I was back asleep within a couple minutes.
At 4AM my alarm went off and I slowly started to get my senses together. I started to get dressed only to have a major cramp in my leg. I woke Fiona up and she massaged it a bit for me then helped me get dressed. We were still winning? I didn’t care, I wasn’t sure I could do another lap and if I blew up Seth would have to finish the race solo, not good. I ate a little more at that time. By the time I was ready to go Seth was all the way back at the RV. I’d missed our exchange. I talked to Seth for a minute and told him I wasn’t going to be able to do a second double. Then I pedaled off, hoping my cramping legs wouldn’t seize up on me somewhere mid lap.
My goal for my 7th lap? Just to finish the lap. I took it easy the whole lap, using the easy gear and walking the steeper climbs. Somehow my leg cramps just disappeared on me. My legs still hurt but it was just the ache of sore muscles, not the knife-stabbing cramps I’d been getting earlier. I was bundled pretty well and stayed warm for most of the lap and overall it was a good lap with some great dawn views, though I missed the sunrise. Somehow lap 7 wasn’t that near so bad as my 6th lap. I guess 2 hours of quality sleep does a body wonders.
After 7 I ate a nice breakfast thanks to Fiona and rested a little before my 8th lap. By the time Seth was back from his final lap at 10 AM, we were 2 laps ahead of the 2nd place team. All I needed to do was finish my 9th lap to cinch the win. I told every one my final lap was my victory lap and just took it easy. I had 2 hours to finish my lap and my worst previous lap had been less than 88 minutes.
I remember a bunch of people I know from MTBR cheering me as I rolled out and I spun up the hills in low gear. I walked all the tough climbs and of course chatted to everyone on the course. I stopped at the aid station and chatted with some of the crew while I drank a bit of sports drink. Then I ran into DJ from the Dirty Avocados. We rode together for about a mile talking about riding and adventure racing. My 9th lap didn’t seem much like racing at all. It was just plain fun. I wound up coming in at 1 hour 40 minutes.
Turns out we blew out the category. We beat the 2nd place team by 2 full laps. Looking at their team times, it looks like they were trying to do double laps in the middle of the night and their weaker team member cracked and couldn’t do his second lap. The third place team was a lap behind them.
I’m not sure what to do after this. Solo?
2 thoughts on “Coolest 24 Race Report”
2nd place team here (Mark Buettner (39n, 121w is my MTBR name)). Great Race! Congratulatons on your first place finish. We could never catch up to you guys. My partner was struggling a bit at night and ended up crashing, so he couldn’t pull any doubles. He felt bad waking me after his one lap, so he let me sleep a little bit – that’s my 2 hour lap.
That wouldn’t have made much of a difference as we would only have made it to 18 laps and been 1 shy of your herculean effort!
See you on the trails,
Word Up Homey!!!
I don’t know about solo next year…what about defending our title?
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