in very close cooperation with
||Boggs Mountain 24-Hr Race 2011
June 18-19, 2011
"We choose to race 24 hours. We choose to race 24 hours in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."
--John F. Kennedy (mostly), 1962 speech at Rice University
This was my second event racing for Kinetic Cycles, and second ever 24-solo. Last year I raced the 24 Hours of Gold at Lake Oroville in November and while that went OK, it could have easily been a fluke.
Ever since my first time racing Boggs last year, I've said, and continue to say that Boggs is my favorite place to *ride*, period so racing there is even better - the course is just plain fun to ride. This year was no different, in fact it was the exact same course as last year.
Our entourage has grown a little! While we are not racing 2-man team any more, Mark & I do still set up a pit together and once more our most bodacious Pit Boss Mike was there. I cannot say enough good things about this man, and there are not enough superlatives to describe the job he does and overall roll he plays. Just the best.
We had a large group campsite with 3 RVs - my new (smaller) trailer, Mark's 5th wheel, and Mike's motorhome. It sounds like a lot, but it was just right and allowed the other pit crew to rest overnight.
Boggs is not only a great place to ride, but a beautiful camping spot as well, and we quickly got everything set up and ready on Friday afternoon.
The pre-ride on Friday was more of a formality since the course was the same and I knew it so well, but it was good to get reminded of all the little things and note how in-general good shape the trails were in. Temps were in the mid-70s, into the mid-50s at night - perfect conditions.
We had a great spaghetti dinner in camp on Friday evening, and pretty much everyone turned in early to get a good start on the next day.
The race started promptly at 11am, and the first lap led the 250+ bunch start up a 2-mile fire road climb to separate out the field before the first single-track. I chatted with a couple other Kinetic riders and generally took the first lap easy, something I am usually not able to do. Discipline prevailed this day, and I rolled a 56 minute lap (not counting the extra start distance).
I had a brake disc dragging on the front, which not only was highly annoying to hear that squeak, squeak, squeak every time the wheel turned, it was also slowing me down a bit. So, after the first lap, I stopped in the maintenance tent and Mike from Auburn Bike Works centered the rotor and sent me on my way. Lap 2 was a 55, then I settled into the 56-57 minute range for most of the rest of the day. There was a 55 thrown in at lap 8, which was a pleasant surprise.
I can't recall which lap it was, but somewhere around mid-day I had another minor mechanical. My bottle cage wasn't very tight, such that my bottle was rattling around and I was afraid it might bounce out. So I reached down, took the bottle out, and went to bend the cage in a touch to snug it up (this is done all the time). SNAP. Broke at the bottom, now Cris has a full bottle in his hand approaching a screaming downhill descent. I stuff the bottle in a back jersey pocket and carry on. It was a little hard to get in and out of my pocket to drink, but I got around and "borrowed" a bottle cage off of Mike's new bike. Thanks Mike! Thankfully that would be the extent of the mechanicals.
Nutrition-wise, I survived on a steady diet of PB&J, bananas, Gu and Roctane gel, and electrolytes. Overnight we switched to chicken noodle soup and an occasional cup of coffee. This all seemed to work well with not much stomach distress and I never seemed to reach an all-too-frequent point where ALL food tastes disgusting as has happened in the past. So I was able to keep eating, mostly, which is obviously critical to long-term success.
It was sometime in the late afternoon/evening I asked Mike to check the scoreboard to see where I currently was in the standings. He promised to do so and would have those results after my next lap. To my surprise, I was in first, with a 37 minute lead over the 2nd place rider. I actually didnít believe him at first, as the 40-49 age group is very, very competitive in endurance racing. He eventually convinced me he *wasn't* joking. Hmm. Ok, that's interesting. Now we have to switch modes from "survival mode" to "protect the lead mode".
Mike continued getting results updates until around 2am when they quit posting for the night - it would be 6am or so before the next update. Oh well, what can you do but carry on and keep racing smart. Any notion of kicking back awhile or coasting went right out the window.
The night laps continued, and continued, and continued. There was only about 9 1/2 hours of darkness total, which was far less than Oroville last November, but still...the last few night laps were the toughest and try as we might to prevent it, pit times started extending a little. As always, those first rays of daylight around 5:30am were a very welcome sight. I actually started lap 14 in total darkness with full lights on, but finished that lap in viewable daylight. The sun coming up always lifts everyone's spirits and just makes you want to go fast again.
We kept checking the scoreboard and the updates were always at least 2 laps old, which was OK until it got closer to the end of the race, when the end-game strategy needs to start forming. After my 16th lap, I still had a reasonably comfortable lead, or so we thought. I completed lap 17 around 9:20am, which did leave time for one more if I hurried, but I was just about out of juice at that point. My knees were really starting to ache, along with my back, wrists, quads, and pretty much every other body part I could think of. After much deliberation, we decided lap 18 was not necessary, even if the #2 guy got 17, I would beat him on time. He would have had to get 18 laps which would have been VERY close on time in a best-case scenario for him. So thankfully I was done, and moments later my cell phone rang - call from home which was huge.
I ran into the guy that was in second place at the showers. Turns out he stopped after 15 laps. The third place guy banged out a 16th lap, which moved him up to second. We didnít really concern ourselves with him as I was at least a full lap ahead of him, but that could have easily flipped. I wound up winning with 17 laps, second place got 16, and third 15. Just goes to show you really have to race until the END if able.
* 17 laps
* 149.8 miles
* 19,710 feet of climbing
* 18 hours 21 minutes on the bike (mostly)
* 18,607 calories burned, maybe
* 1st Place in my division
Laps 1 - 12
Laps 13 - 17
Bike: Specalized Stumpjumper FSR 29er, running WTB Wolverine 2.2 on the front, Specialized Captain 2.0 on the back, both at 33 psi pressure.
Full results can be found on the GBE site.
Lessons learned? Well, first and foremost - having expert help in the pits makes a tremendous difference. No - it makes ALL the difference. Mike - I said a few times, I'll say it again - I could NOT have done this without you. Thank you my friend. Half of this medal is yours.
Other than that, mental focus and toughness are equally key. The night laps required near-total concentration, and doing that for hours on end is very tiring mentally as well as physically. I guarantee that every racer out there wanted to quit at some point, but you have to just keep going. It's part of the challenge.
The other obvious key element is nutrition & fueling. Getting back to beating that dead horse about pit help, Mike made sure not only that food was available, but he also made sure I actually ate it. You do get a little loopy after awhile, and it's easy to forget the simplest things. I reached a point where if I could remember 2 things I wanted to get done in the pit after a lap, I would consider that success. Never mind I had to repeat those 2 things to myself a hundred times during the lap!
None of this would happen without my family's tremendous support. While wife and son had to stay home this time, I got several cell phone calls which is always a great morale boost. Race day is really just the icing on the cake - there are many many hours of training that go into these efforts, and having such a supportive family structure behind you is essential. Thank you Honey, and Bud - the other half of this medal is yours.
Next up - Soda Springs Coolest 24 on August 27-28. I'm thinking a small break is in order, but I've said that before and not always able to actually do it...
Written by Cris Flint, Team Kinetic Cycles