Monday, August 4, 2008

24-9 and Plenty of Whine

The Start Line:

Dirt Eyeliner:

Filthy Gloves:

How do I tell you all about a 24 hour race? I can hardly remember how many laps I did, let alone what happened during them. That's pretty lucky for the four readers of this blog- you don't have to sit through it all.

To get it rolling, I'll pick up where I left off- prep work. Cale got home from work and we packed everything up (the car was pretty full, and had four bikes on top) and got rolling around 6:00. We stopped for dinner on the way up, and got in after dark to a reserved parking spot and camp fire blazing away. We set up and got to bed sometime before midnight.

The next morning Cale and I got up at 7:30, even though I was in favor of sleeping until about 9:45 and then moseying on over for the 10:00 start time. They did a pre-race talk that went on for at least three days (or so it seemed) and then we were finally ready to start, about 7 minutes late. Part of the delay was trouble with the timing system. This year, instead of little devices on your ankle, everyone had a card that they had to swipe themselves. People were a little unhappy, because it was hard to tell if it had indeed scanned or not. And if you accidentally scanned twice, you would cancel yourself out. It was really funny watching people scan for the first few times. It was a lot like watching an older person use a cell phone or send an email for the first time. Speculation and trepidation abounded. Did it work? Or did I just cancel out my first lap?

Cale took the first lap, and I got ready to go out. With about 15 minutes to spare, I got on my bike and rode up to the start finish. When I squeezed on my brake levers to roll to stop, I discovered a bit of a problem. My rear brake (Juicy Ultimates) was not really working. I'd had trouble with it before, but we'd re-bled it and thought it had been taken care of. Apparently not. I took it to the SRAM support tent, where I recognized a few of the guys that I used to work with. In case it would take a while, I grabbed my backup bike, the Pecan. Cale came in as Tony was bleeding the rear brake, so I abandoned the Zion and took the rigid singlespeed out.

It was a really nice course for a singlespeed, but I was wishing for front suspension the whole way. There were very few intense hills, which was excellent for SS, but there were tons of little roots and rocks, along with the rock gardens. I already have a bit of trouble with my wrists, so I was looking forward to getting my Rock Shox back. I took it really easy on the first lap- maybe too easy. I just started to warm up about halfway through the lap. However, my goal was to finish the whole race, and to stave off the suffering for as long as I could.

When I got back, Tony of SRAM had my brakes working like new again- thanks Tony and the rest of the SRAM support guys. It was good to see everyone again. For the rest of my laps I used the Zion and didn't have any problems with it.


As noted, no problems with the Zion after a short trip to the hydraulic brakes doctor. The cassette was pretty decent for the course, too. It's a road cassette, which has harder gearing than MTB cassettes, but since there weren't any long, sharp hills, it worked out well. I was using the top three exclusively toward the end, but that would have been the case no matter what. No problems with the shifting (XO rear derailleur), and I loved the Reba on the front with the lockout feature. I used it on the fire road climbs, but kept it open most of the time on the trails. (I sound like a SRAM ad right now :) )


Yeah, it's pretty much awesome to be a woman biker. There are all sorts of good looking guys to ogle, these guys are usually polite on the trail (they can be a little short with other guys) and there are other perks, too. For instance, when the race was winding down on Sunday Morning there was a pretty big line for the men's shower. The women's, none at all.

Sometimes the women are the ones being ogled though. Case in point: The whole race I was getting passed quite a bit by other racers. I was getting pretty good at it: I would pull off when I could, or ask people to let me know when they wanted to pass. Sometimes they liked to take it easy and wait, before passing me on a fire road. Anyhow, I heard someone coming up behind me pretty quickly, so I made a verbal offer to get the hell out of the way. The guy said "No, that's fine. [pause] You have beautiful legs." I weighed whether or not this was creepy, then said "Thank You". Vanity, thy name is Katy. I suppose I should have followed that up with "um, PIG!" or something, but I preferred to think it was a respectable man simply overwhelmed by my stunning gams.

Team Pegasus

I had a lot of people cheering for me (thank you!) and for Team Pegasus in general. There were a lot of people I recognized, and quite a few I didn't. I think they just knew someone from Pegasus, or fell in love with our jerseys right then and there. I'm proud that our team is viewed so positively. The cheering sections were awesome, even at 3:00 AM. It had to be pretty taxing to keep up the energy and positive comments all night long. I was really grateful for all the cheering, even though I could only show my appreciation by kind of grimacing. On one of my night laps, I did kind of a moving handshake with a guy running along side me. He was wearing cargo shorts, flip flops and a winter hat with ear flaps. But crazy or not, human contact felt pretty good after an hour of biking in the woods at night. In the dark.

The Dark

I had a lap that started about 8:00, just as it was getting a little dark in the woods. Good thing I was out there already when I remembered that dark woods are scary. It was dark except for my lights, and the cheering/water stations seemed few and far between. It was in one of the long, dark stretches that I was reminded of the 24 hour race in Canada where a girl was nearly killed by a bear. No joke. On a later lap, my brakes started squeaking a little bit. Not a big deal, but then you start to think that mountain lions can live around Wausau, and that a squeaking brake sounds a lot like a small animal in distress...

Halfway through the first lap I had to put on lights, which were infuriating. My handlebar mounted lights were a weak yellow that died within 30 mins, and my helmet mounted LED light was pointed right down in front of my wheel (when it should have been about 10 yards up the path). I tried tilting my head up, but that wasn't working. I tried twice to adjust it, but it just wasn't pointing where I wanted it to. The helmet also had to be so tight that it made my somewhat squarish forehead ache. Nuts. Things weren't going too smoothly, and then I misjudged a turn and wound up on the ground in the weeds. In the dark. So alone. I broke down and started crying and hyperventilating for a few seconds before picking myself up and soldiering on. Good times, huh?

My second lap in the dark, I had the helmet light fixed but the handlebar mounted lights died again, despite a huge honking battery I was lugging along for it. It was a little hard to bike with a single light, but I started to get better at it. When wearing a helmet mounted light, you have to move your head instead of just your eyes. It's obvious and sounds easy, but I challenge you to try it. Turns in the trail involved much head twisting and a sense of adventure- it was hard to see ahead.

The third and final lap was much better. I had an LED light on the handlebars that helped a lot. I was also getting better with the helmet light, and I knew it was my last night lap. I was slowing down considerably, but at least I was more comfortable.


Did I just say comfortable? Hardly! The first lap with the Pecan's harsh saddle caused a bit of discomfort early on. After that, I magically healed and the rest of the race was like riding on air. Hah! Gotcha. It got worse, and by the last lap I was pretty chafed and unhappy. I would have used some Buttr, but it tends to make things worse. I won't go into details, but things get too slippery and don't sit right.

Early on, my hands got sore from gripping the bars so tightly. My fingers got stiff and I stretched them out when I could during the rolling fire roads. Today I'm stiff pretty much all over. Whenever I rolled over during the night, the stiff/soreness woke me up. The weirdest malady is that the soles of my feet are numb.

The End

Cale and I finished up at about 8:30 in the morning. I did out last lap in the morning- it was hard to get out of bed and get out into the chilly morning. I was slower than ever, and getting really sloppy. A woman asked me if I wanted someone to ride with, because she was worried that I wasn't doing alright. Mentally I was good, but due to grogginess, steering was getting difficult. I thanked her but didn't want to slow her down. (It was really nice of her to offer, though :) )

We could have done one more, but we were solidly ahead of 5th place, who had quit halfway through the night, and quite solidly behind 1-3 places. From what I could tell, they were sponsored pros who were not messing around. I was proud that I kept going through the night, despite really wanting to quit and getting scared/discouraged/angry with everything and everyone (I shoved Cale aside around 3AM when he gave me some words of encouragement).

We stuck around to watch the solo riders finish a little after 10AM, and then packed up and headed for home. Please note that packing up was less fun than ever. Arms and legs were worn out, and unpacking was a daunting task. While driving home, we stopped about four times to switch drivers, gas up or just stretch a little. We had only had an hour nap the previous night, so we made sure that whoever was driving was as sharp as could be.

When we got home around 3:30, we took the bikes off of the roof, left everything in the car and fell right into bed. I don't even remember falling asleep. Around 3 I woke up and unpacked some of the car (I couldn't fall asleep) and then went back for round two of sleeping after a few hours.

Enough? Enough.

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