Wednesday, June 11, 2008

24 Hours of Big Bear, WV 2008 - Tinker's Race Experience

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There is a lot that goes into getting prepared for a 24 hour race. Of course, there is the training, eating the right foods, getting enough rest, and everything else that adds up to just the right balance of events and preparations for doing well. Add into that, all those things that you don't expect or necessarily want to happen, and sometimes it screws everything up but I think this time that part of it was minimal and I was ready. Minus some rest I think I could have used more of, but it all turned out OK anyway.

Here is an account of my race preparations and race. The blog entry today gave the end of the story away early.

We started packing early in the week. I got my bike ready and it was packed by Tuesday. Traveling with the family is tough and we have done enough of these now that at least if we start packing early, it helps a lot. We headed to the airport early on Thursday morning and planned to spend some time with Terri's mom and her family who live near Pittsburgh. So of course I had to post some family photos for them!!

Joshua chowing down on pre-race watermelon. Yummy!

L to R: Joshua, Lena the Italian cooking machine, and Aunt Pauline enjoying home cooking.

Mom Rachael.

Debbie, Terri and Joshua

Terri and Joshua hung out with her family and arrived at the race on Saturday afternoon. I went to the hotel one night early and got some good quiet sleep in the hotel. Or at least, that was the plan.

East coast time is tough to get used to. You loose 3 hours and hit the sack early only to find yourself staring at the ceiling for hours, and then the screaming alarm wakes you up at what feels like an ungodly hour early. Get there as early as possible and do not ever count in the travel day as a rest day. I know it is really difficult to do add in the extra days, but well worth it if you can.

I picked my 2008 Cannondale Taurine. The bike I want to ride at the 24 Hour Solo World Championship to defend my title. I just got it so I wanted to make sure the bugs were all worked out and I was comfortable with it. Well it worked great, but turned out to be the WRONG bike for the grueling WV terrain. It beat the hell out of me. My a** hurt the most.

I got a great run at the start. I was on the bike I think 3rd into the woods and kept up there with the fast team guys. One thing I kept thinking about was if I was rested enough, and in that heat and that pace, I realized I wasn't but I tried my best to not think about it and instead focused on riding consistently for every lap. Keep riding the best I could since it was such a difficult course and it was tough finding good lines to minimize the energy output. The laps seemed so long. But I guess I was consistent enough. It definitely put pressure on me when I realized that after so many laps, there were 4 of us within minutes apart. And then in the morning Ernesto caught me at the pit. I saw him in the pit and I know this is the most brilliant thing I could think of at the time but the best I could do was utter..."Are you in my race?" Maybe, "Oh, Good Morning! Glad to see you are doing so well!" would have been better, but I was beat!!

During the race, I was most worried about the night since the day hurt so bad, but my Niterider light system lit it all up so good, I did not have a thing to worry about. And the night was short, so before I knew it, the sun was up and I had a breakfast burrito that Steve made for me waiting for me at the pit.

It was so close. There was no time to spend in the pit. There was no putting a gap on them. There was nothing I could do to put some time on them. At one point I had about 20 minutes but then Ernesto put in some amazing lap times - an excellent effort and he should be comended for working so hard.

I was working just as hard.

Now, after so many hours, it was time to find out who had what in their tank left. I tried to put some time on and ended up with a fast lap and built up a little gap. Then the next was a little more. I turned it on and realized, and was relieved, that I had a little more in the tank than he did. That was the turning point and my chance to win the race. There was no way there would be any rest in this race. The top guys - Me, Ernesto, Jesse, Steve, and Jimmy got top 5 in that order. I just want to say these guys kicked it up and it was a lot of fun and an honor to race with them.

Thank God the weather was so nice.

Jesse Jakomait finishing the race.

Robbie Loehr and his Dad Steve Loehr.

Robbie - he did a real professional support for me. Here is my bike after the race ready to pack. Thank you Robbie.

Joshua and me all wiped out after the race at the Awards Ceremony. Notice the big letters on the box behind me. And wouldn't you know I will mail my card this week!

So now the race is over but I am still feeling the effects. There is a certain blanket of relaxation that happens. The recovery ride is the best - just a short easy ride. But I do not know what came over me today and I went for the mountains and rode just over 4 hours.

It burned.

It felt good.

I hope I will be ready for BC7 in just a few short weeks.

Is that it?


Dogzbollux said...

Congratulations on the Big Bear victory! Sounds like an epic race.


Lucas said...

You are so the man when it comes to the end of a race! Keep it up, you are such an amazing inspiration!