Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

24 Hours of E-Rock Photos and Race Report...Plus!

Race Almanac:

Laps: 13 (6 Night Laps, 7 Day Laps)
Riding Time: 9:40
Mileage: 104
Elapsed Time: 18:30
Average Speed (rolling): 10.3 mph
Average Speed (overall): 5.6 mph
Top Speed: 31.5 mph
Cramps, muscle spasms, etc.: 0
Fun Factor: 9.8 (out of 10)
Placing: 12th (of 14 Solo Men! I've never claimed to be fast.)

Home, sweet home. Carol was kind enough to come down and help me set up camp. I ended up camping just uphill from the car-camping, which was in a gravel parking lot. The grassy area was much more pleasant, and had better views.

In the foreground is the car-camping. Farther back, the campsites for the 4-person and larger teams.

The Timing Tent, where we swiped our cards in order to get lap credit, to the left. Another competitor coming through on his way to set up camp, right of center. Go-Fast was the major sponsor, obviously.

Pike's Peak was looking pretty, with fresh snow well down from the summit. The clouds were looking a bit threatening, and the forecast included a 30% chance of thunderstorms.

Just a little bit closer look at Pike's Peak. About 20 minutes after I took this picture, a cloud obscured the top third, or so, of what you can see of the mountain, as a storm moved into Colorado Springs.

The antlers of the wild mountain-bike racer are a popular trophy among some hunters.

This is the Pavilion, with picnic tables and sanitary facilities (outhouses) in the background.

First blood for Team Grinderbike, drawn by a non-rider, before the race even started.
About another 20 minutes after the top of Pike's Peak was covered by clouds, a strong wind blew through our area. It lifted our neighbors' easy-up shelter off the ground by about 5 feet, carrying one of their bikes along with it. Carol and I (and eventually about 4 or 5 other people) ran to grab it. As we were holding onto the easy-up trying to keep it from blowing away to Oz, the chainring on the bike took a bite out of Carol's leg.
Carol had to leave at about 4:30. Randy showed up a bit after that, to take the night shift. At the Race Meeting, the Director outlined the start procedure. We lined up at the entrance of the open space, and ran with our bikes to the fence which separates the Pavilion area from the trail, and got on our bikes once through the gate.
In this picture, I had just jumped on the bike. Randy made a good decision to not take a picture of me running with the bike. Imagine a mother duck trying to hurry her babies across the road, with me in the role of Momma Duck and the bike as the baby, and you'll get the picture anyway.

Randy was waiting at the Timing Tent, at the end of Lap 1. He yelled at me to slow down, as I had come in 7 minutes faster than my target lap time of 45 minutes. I had told him that my plan was to hold the lap times down to around 45 minutes and try to do the slow and steady thing, rather than go out hot and burn myself out early in the race. (You have to keep in mind that, since the Moab race, I haven't ridden more than about 35 miles in any 24-hour period.)
I passed on through to start Lap 2, concentrating on slowing down a bit. I was trying to hold to a leisurely 80 to 90 rpm cadence, shifting up or down on the long stretch along the railroad tracks. A constant 10 to 15 mph south wind blew in our faces all through the race, on that stretch, so that kept my speed down to 10 to 13 mph for the first 4 miles of each lap.
But, at the 4 mile mark, the trail turned back south, and began to climb. The initial climb probably accounted for 300 of the 500 feet of vertical gain per lap. After that came a short down, a short up and then a close to 3 mile mostly downhill stretch of twisty, flowy, trail back to the Timing Tent. I hit my top speed of the race on the first short downhill, on the second lap.
All through the race, every time I topped that first climb, I would start grinning, looking forward to the fast shot back to camp. This trail is a really fun ride, unlike the trail at the 24 Hours of Moab, and the race was like a really long, fun trail ride with 72 friends.
You can probably tell that I had just had a good, fast downhill run, if you enlarge this photo and note the look on my face. Lap time: 44 minutes.
I came into camp after Lap 2 and changed into my "night helmet", with the headlamp mounted on it. With this light, and the handlebar-mounted Cygo Lite, I hoped to be able to maintain the downhill speed, even in the dark.
The helmet light is a $15.00 Energizer brand 6-LED Headlight that I picked up at Target. The package says it will deliver a fifty-hour run time on either of the 2-LED settings (spot, or flood), 20 hours on the 4-LED "high-beam". I ran it on the "spot" setting, and it worked great.
Even though it's not marketed as a bike light, it is easily adapted. I put some self-stick industrial-grade Velcro on the helmet to hold the light, itself, and to hold the strap in place. I wish I could take credit for thinking of this, but I read another blog (I think it was Guitar Ted) about using this type of light for night races, and just ran with the idea.
The light is bright, even if the rider is a bit dim, at times.

The thunderstorms developed as the sun went down, but they left us alone. We could see flashes of lightning in all four directions, at times. But the majority of the action was north of us, over Denver. At one point, I had to conciously stop watching the show as I came down the hill, for fear that I was going to run off of the trail and crash.
I never crashed on the fast downhill, but I did crash on the second night lap. As I was riding along on the first portion of the trail, parallel to the railroad tracks, I noticed that my handlebar light was pointing down a little more than I wanted. So, without stopping (hey, it was a race, after all), I started trying to twist the mount on the handlebar. As I did, I ran the front tire into a rut, and over-corrected. Now, if I had ever hit the brakes, I could probably have just stopped and never fallen. But, I'm so used to riding fixed gear that I was frantically pedalling backwards, trying to slow down, when I hit the gound.
I managed to get all tangled up with the bike as I fell. Somehow, the bike ended up lying on my back, with the saddle hooked to the tire pump sticking up out of my CamelBak. Every time I tried to stand up, the bike was levering me back to the ground. I desperately fought to stand up, not because I was in "race-mode", but because I was afraid another rider would come along and see me!
Eventually, I got up and continued on, after first adjusting the light while not moving. No need in a repeat performance.
The full moon had risen during Lap 4. That's me, lounging around in the background.
Chef Randy cooked up some elbow macaroni with spaghetti sauce and meatballs, for dinner. I ate about a ton of it, and drank a bunch of water and juice mixed together. I ended up hanging around, digesting, for about an hour and a hlf. This was to become the pattern for the rest of the night: I'd go out for 2 laps, then come in and eat something substantial, then hang around for a couple of hours to digest it. Plus, truthfully, I was just enjoying hanging out with Randy.
This is probably a good place to give credit where it's due. Randy did a bang-up job as camp-master. He made sure I wrapped up and stayed warm, plied me with food, coffee and Ibuprofen, and was always good for a pep talk when I needed it. He probably deserves as much credit for me reaching my goal of at least 100 miles ridden as I do.
Thanks, Randall!

"The Grub", as Randy remarked.
At one point, we had a French press full of coffee, and wrapped up to sit a spell and just rest. The temperatures had fallen to the low 40s, maybe upper 30s, and I was happy to let the legs rest a bit. Eventually, I began to feel a bit chilly, even in my Grub suit, so I took off again in as much of an effort to warm up as to get more laps under my belt.
Once out on the trail, I was very comfortable. Oddly, the coldest spot on the whole trail was at camp. As I rode south, the temperature consistently rose, dropping as I came back toward camp. About 1/3 of a mile from the Timing Tent, there was wall of cold air, 10 or 15 degrees colder than the surrounding area. Strange.

"You vill go out und ride!"
At this point, the sun had charred the other side of the world and returned to us, painting the smoke over our heads an Imperial Violet, as the Soul Coughing song "Screenwriter's Blues", says. Note that I am holding my CamelBak in my hand, as I prepare to go out for the Dawn Lap.

The Dawn's early light...

Here I am returning from the Dawn Lap. See my CamelBak? Nope, you wouldn't unless Randall had taken a picture of the campsite. I was beginning to get a bit punch-drunk at this time. I had promised myself to not sleep until I had the 100 miles in, so I had been up for about 22 hours at this point.

The train tracks along the side of the course are active...very active. I bet 50 or 60 trains went by while we were racing. "Quiet Time" at camp was from 10:00 PM to 8:00 AM. I don't think that anyone told the train engineers, though.

The Internation House of Randall opened at 7:30, with pancakes and...

This is the result of my crash on the second night lap. Carol's leg looks better, but I got the bigger owie.

I finally changed out of the clothes in which I had started the race. It was a relief to get the sweaty togs off, and have fresh rags draped over me. Back to shorts, with no leg warmers, as the sun warmed us up.

The wind picked up as the air warmed, and my speed along the railroad tracks slowed accordingly. Climb speed and the downhill speed stayed about the same, so my lap times climbed toward the 50 to 55 minute mark. Here, I am coming in from lap 10, the last time I would see Randy. He needed to go home, having a life outside of being my Race Guru.
So, I bid him goodbye and took the camera from him.

I got the 11th and 12th laps completed, and went back to the tent for a ham sandwich before tackling the lap which would take me past 100 miles. Once I got back on the trail, I decided to take a few shots of the sights along the race course. Here is a shot of a Bison herd across the
railroad tracks.
Close-up of some Bison.

This is a shot of the double-track paralleling the railroad tracks. It has a slight uphill trend, but no real climbs. If not for the headwind, it would have been a pretty fast stretch.

More of the same stretch, with Pike's Peak peeping over the horizon.



After Lap 13, the wind was howling and I was sunburned, so I lay down in the tent for a little shut-eye. I lied to myself that I might go back out for another couple of laps, but I knew I wouldn't. I had gone without sleep for the 100 miles because I knew that, once I let my mind shut down for a while, the body would follow suit. And, it did.


But, I was very happy with the race. I had formulated a plan, followed it, and attained my goal. That felt good, especially in light of thre Moab debacle, last October.


Today, I'm tired, but relaxed. It was fun, and challenging. Next year, I may take a team there for the race, and make a party of it.




At 7:02 PM , Blogger Big Oak said...

Excellent Job, Jon! They say you're not really racing until you draw blood. So you are bonified!

That was a tremendous effort, and it looks like you had a lot of fun also.

At 7:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

HELL YEA! Way to go TJG!!

Monsterous ride ol' boy!


At 9:57 PM , Blogger Apertome said...

Lots of big smiles in the photos. Way to go man, very impressive feat. Congratulations! 100 miles of mountain biking, wow. Great scenery, too.

At 4:47 AM , Blogger frankenbiker said...

Way to go Jon!By the way that's got to be a record for the longest blog post ever.

At 8:29 AM , Blogger Jon said...

Thanks for all of the kind words, everyone. I appreciate it.

I'd like to note that I fixed a typo. I came in 12th out of 14 riders, not 12th of 12.

Apertome: I couldn't help but smile. The course was so much to ride, especially the long downhill back to the timing tent, and I really enjoyed it.

Frankenbiker: It is a long post, and I left out all the discussion of the bike set-up, what I would do differently, what I did differently from Moab, etc. Be forewarned, you may see another post (or two) about this race before it's over!

At 9:29 AM , Anonymous Charles Garcia said...

Bro' hugs all around! It's a great accomplishment. Roll around in it for a while, you deserve it.

At 8:58 PM , Blogger m e l i g r o s a said...

this post is awesome. your descriptions, esp. the duck one had me cracking up. what beautiful scenery. Ive never raced, but seeing this post makes me wanna tag along with my friends that do and cheer them on. and this scenery is so pretty!! :D
cheers /xo.meli


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