|24 Hours of Gold, Lake Oroville
Oct 19-20, 2013
"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
Oroville has become my favorite race of the year (for several reasons), and it really is a perfect way to end the season - great course, great people, great facilities, and pretty close so the drive home isn't too bad. This was my 4th time racing solo there. As always the good folk at LOBO do a fantastic job and the venue is top-drawer with very clean bathrooms and showers and a beautiful campground.
I've gotten third place at this race the last 2 years. While any podium spot is welcomed, naturally we want to strive for a little something more. As such I set out this race to challenge the guy who usually wins this event by a lot. Mike C. rides for the Chico Masters Cycling Team, and is *very* fast and smart. Last year he won with 30 laps to my 26. It was a lofty goal, but hey, you gotta have goals. Turns out Mike couldn't attend this year due to family obligations. Good Man with the right priorities. However, the second place finisher from last year WAS there this year, and he completed 29 laps last year. So, my focus turned to him. I didn't know him personally, just his name and once we picked up his race number and kit colors, we kept an eye on him. Time to race.
I arrived Friday morning with Bud, we got the trailer all set up in our usual spot.
Attendance was down quite a bit, in fact I think we were the first ones there which was a good thing because it took an inordinate amount of time to get set up. No matter, we were done by lunchtime.
Y and Pete arrived later in the afternoon and we setup all three tents next to the trailer.
Since I had the boy with me, I couldn't do a pre-ride on Friday but that was OK because I think I can safely say I know this course...over the last 3 years I have done over 70 laps there. The only real variable is the surface condition, and unfortunately this year it was the worst I had ever seen it...some deep dust/powder in places, and in general the course was pretty beat up. Apparently they had recently held an equestrian event there, which makes for a very bumpy ride. Oh well, it's the same for everybody.
The course was the same as last year - 7.6 miles, 2 steep climbs in the beginning, roughly 900 feet of climbing per lap. This course is not technical at all, very fast, and really fun.
We had a nice dinner in town at a small Italian restaurant and it was really good. I stayed with the fam at the motel Friday night, nice room as usual, and we hit the Denny's for breakfast Saturday morning.
Start time was 10am as usual, which I kind of like better than 12noon which is the norm for other races. This late in the year, with sunset at 6:20pm, it's nice to have an earlier start time.
First lap started pretty quick - 39 minutes which must be a PR lap time for me. Smart way to start? Maybe not so much but it seems that's just the way these things go. I pulled out ahead of the guy I was watching and only saw him once again.
Mike was watching very closely and giving me unofficial time gaps. He would report the interval between me and when the other guy rolled by. For the first few laps, the gap was *tiny* - 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute. I was putting time into him each lap but not much and we were pitting VERY fast - the first 9 laps pit times were a minute or less. This was one of my focus items anyway - I wanted to improve my pit times over the Hammerstein 24 race at Laguna Seca in May. But, there is no such thing as a free lunch - with pit times shortened, something else had to give, and unfortunately, at least in the beginning, nutrition suffered. Mike & I both knew this was not a long-term strategy. At times, I actually told myself I was too busy racing to eat. Eventually common sense prevailed and I began paying closer attention to fuel. I was grabbing food and stuffing in my pocket, to hopefully eat on-course (normally I would eat during a pit stop). To make matters worse, my usual "go-to" food, my rice bars, weren't tasting that great because I used the wrong bacon. Lesson learned.
Several laps in, I got some reports that my guy was looking a little rough around the edges. I figured he was playing possum, since I knew he was a strong rider, and he had to know where our pit was. It didnít really matter, I wasn't planning to change anything on my end until I had a pretty comfortable lead. Eventually, we had about a 30 minute lead, so I felt like I could relax just a little. All this time, we thought we were in the overall lead. Wellll turns out we weren't - there was a kid on a single-speed that was jamming and after checking the official scorer's table around 6pm, we found out he had about 45 minutes on me. OK, so we're in second place, gunning for first.
The time gaps between 1st-2nd-3rd stayed very consistent for many hours. Finally around 2:30 AM, 3rd seemed to stop for a long while - over 3 hours so he must have taken a nap. Just to be safe we started watching the 4th place guy a little closer, but he was pretty far behind and didn't seem like he could catch up. I have to admit that once this happened, I throttled back a little since it seemed like barring a catastrophe, 2nd place was locked up at a minimum. I didnít completely check out though, because 1st place was still a possibility. There was a lot of time left, and things happen.
I wound up riding with the 1st place guy a little, nice kid, very strong and he was watching us pretty close and staying just far enough ahead to keep the standings intact. We rode together on what turned out to be both our last laps, which finished around 8:15am. We rolled to the start/finish and both declared we were done. There was time for one, maybe two more, but it was pointless - the standings were not going to change and we were both pretty fried anyway.
* 25 laps
* 19 hours 39 minutes in the saddle
* 194.3 miles
* 22,197 feet of climbing
* Calories burned: Around 13,500
* Calories consumed: ???
* 2rd place overall out of 6 solos
Garmin profile, laps 1 - 13
Garmin profile, laps 14 - 25
Click for the Facebook photo album
Bike: Specalized S-Works Epic 29er, running WTB Wolverine 2.2 on the front, Specalized Fast Trak 2.0 on the back, both at 25 psi pressure.
Full results and video can be found on the LOBO site.
I never really bottomed out emotionally in this race - stayed relatively even-keeled which I will take as improvement. The first several hours on Saturday were pretty hectic, and I was probably going too hard...especially with the fast pits. I did one less lap this year than last, which I'm not happy about, but I do think the course was a lot rougher and that, combined with the fast pit times took its toll. Overall average pit time for 25 laps was 5 minutes 30 seconds. This is an improvement over Hammerstein in May, which was 6:51. Max pit was 16:46, again improvement over Hammerstein's 19:02. This has been a focus of mine as we strive to squeeze out that ever-decreasing marginal improvement. I guess at some point I'm just going to have to ride faster!
One thing I changed up in my training this year over last year was *much* more MTB time. I was able to ride trails here at the ranch as well as the winery next door to me, so instead of driving 2+ hours round trip to a trail, I could roll out my back door. That has made a huge difference. The other change I made was I completely ditched the weight training and instead used that time to ride more. The jury is still out on how effective that strategy is - I've read pro & con opinions both ways, but I can't exactly argue with my results this year - 1st overall at Hammerstein 24 in May, and 2nd here at Oroville...so I guess something is going right.
This is a repeat of things I've said before, but there is no way I could do this without help. Mike, the best pit guy on the planet, is hanging up his pit boss spurs to focus on winning triathlons next year. We've been a great team over the years, and he will be missed. Thanks Mike, a thousand times, for all your help and support.
Of course, none of this would be remotely possible without the un-ending support from my wonderful and beautiful family.
Dale and Bud-Boy, you two are my foundation, my rock, and I will never be able to adequately express the extent of the contribution you make, or my appreciation for making it.
These race write-ups kind of look the same I know...I always end with "what now?". Well, for one thing, rest. I cut my training volume back a bit toward the end of the season, partly because I thought I needed more rest, partly because I wanted to spend more time with my boy. But now, training is over for the season, I can just do goof-off rides (or no rides). Once it starts raining this year I'll go back to trail building, and perfect some of the trails we put in last year.
Next year is a bit of a question mark in terms of what races will be held, but we'll aim to do 3 next year, looking at the Oregon 24Hr MTB race in Bend, Oregon in July. Until next year - ROLL ON!
Written by Cris Flint, Team Kinetic Cycles