Monday, June 22, 2009

24-no-12 Hours of Summer Solstice 2009

2nd and 3rd! 

Back: Andy, Thom, Matt, Kurtis, Pascal, Rodd
Front: Jamie, Anna, Greg, Jeff
The new team kit was big hit. We had lots of people shouting support: 'Tall Tree Cycles Rocks!' 

The Tall Tree Cycles team had a great 24 hour race this weekend, with members pulling 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots in the 5 person 150-199 category. 
We were all hopeful, but I don't think any of us really thought we'd get away without enduring a good bit of rain on Saturday. We endured more than anyone expected. This was the hardest race I have ever done. Ever.   
By 9pm most of our 15 racers had shown up to our camp site at Albion Hills on Friday night. We enjoyed the luxury of setting up and hanging out in the dry, and a few of us managed to pre-ride the course. I pulled off about half of it before dark, and quite enjoyed it. I hit 55k/hr on one of the descents; I like that. The course would reward both fitness and skill, and offered a lot of opportunity to recover. No much opportunity to eat or drink though. Rough for the solos. Aside from those who arrived late, we all got to be a t a reasonable hour. 
We took a lot of rain overnight. Hours. It came and went, usually with a misting in between, all morning. But the forecast was optimistic. We were too.
I was to start first for Tall Tree Cycles Chlorophyll Power. Our team originated as a mixed 5-person, but after losing Candace due to her cat, Malcolm's sudden illness, we scrambled and took on Andy, thus becoming a 5 person team - not officially mixed. Rodd had done the first lap during his previous umpteen 24 hr races, and was keen to pass the honour to me. I took it as an opportunity to improve on my pacing; I usually go too hard my first time out. It was pouring. We got going and people floundered all over the place. I managed to pass all the way up to the top of the first climb, and moved into the front of the field. Before long I was 7th, and pacing well. I was happy where I was, riding smoothly and pacing myself. About 2/3rds of the way through the lap I ejected my water bottle. I stopped, pulled off, backtracked to get it, and 3 guys I'd been pulling away from passed. Ah well, no big deal. Kept going, pulled some mental moto slides on fast turns, including one that ended up a 180. It was slick by firm. I had a good time and thoroughly tired myself at then end. Then off went Rodd.   
After the first lap there was little rest to be had. Mud had to be cleaned from bodies and bikes, preparations made for the next lap. There never seems to be much time to relax between laps on a 5-person team, almost none if its muddy. Rodd rode a fast lap, Thom had a horrendous crashfest, Anna and Andy rode really well. The other ten guys were also going well, slipping away, then slogging. The course was deteriorating fast. Glenn told me in no uncertain terms that I had to run for the first 3 k of the course. It was unrideable. Bikes were coming in with 20-30 pounds of mud on them. It was a mudfest. Before I headed out the rain subsided for a while. After taking 4 minutes to get up the last hill to the finish, Anna handed off the 'baton' and off I ran. I am not a runner. Nevertheless, it went pretty well, and I covered the section to the best of my ability, and was able to get back on the bike eventually. Then I hammered, and it was great. Traction was better than before, and I was going great. Aside from a dropped chain in a slide, I had a perfect lap. I was very happy. Out went Rodd. The first 3 k was cut out, so he didn't have to run as much. He pulled a fast one. The others had solid laps, considering many climbs had to be run/walked, and chunks of mud cleared from the bike. Sloggy.   
I prepared for my double night lap, to begin some time around 11. Thom and I discussed the scenarios. We both suspected they would call a delay or stop the race. Rolling over the the start/finish, we got the news. The race was now a 12 hour. I would do one lap, and hope to get in before 12 in order to get Rodd out. If I could do this, we could take 1st. Greg's Freeride Friends Forever Development Team was sitting third, Will's Log Drivers fourth.   
Standing in under the tent at the line, the clock ticked past 11. Could I do a lap in less than an hour? Uh, no. However, it was uncertain whether my time could be good enough to pull ahead anyway; we just didn't know. Anna rolled in at 11:25 and I was off. The lap was my hardest ever. Running up hills was so brutal. Again, I am crap runner. Rodd is an awesome runner. But I couldn't get back fast enough to get him out; even in the dry it was impossible. He wanted to get out there though! I was consistent, but did slide and shoulder check a tree, then clip a sapling and eat it into another tree. My left hamstring cramped as I hit the ground. Oh oh. It worked itself out. The final run-up (lets just use cross terms, its appropriate), my quads locked up near my knees. Grimace. keep it going. Finish. Cooked. 2nd place. Done. Greg's team - Kurtis, Jeff, Jamie, Pascal - held third, Will's - Brad, Kent, Glenn, Martin - held fourth. An outstanding showing for a group of riders who, for the most part, don't race. Bike handling was a massive asset, and we had lots of that in the camp. Riding in the Gatineau Park is good for that. We were all more than happy to get a good sleep!
More photos (thanks Kim!) can be found here. Results are here.

The start. Soggy.

My Niner after my last lap. This is way less mud than some had on their bikes.

Kent handled the mud really well

Pop-up tents are essential for these races.


Pascii said...

What?! No Comments yet?
C'mon folks, we rocked the mud! The Tall Tree crew destroyed the field thanks strong technical MTB skills and road fitness. I could not have been prouder. Next year, we'll get those Long Shots from Long Sault.
But for now, we bask in glory. I've been smiling all week!

Panty Sniffer.. yeah, that's right! said...

Destroyed the field AND the trails by the looks of it. I don't know how any responsible MTB'er could ride those trails in good conscience, race should have been canceled. I sure hope the racing community comes out in droves for volunteer trail work. Shame!

Rodd Heino said...

Looks like you got your wish umm Mr (ms.?) sniffer

I trust you do plenty of trail work in your area?