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Downtown Temple,NH

Friday, August 19, 2011

24 Hours of Great Glen - 2011 Version

I am so thankful I got involved with this race 3 years ago. It is by far the event I most look forward to each year, and that's saying a lot considering I'm more of a runner than a rider. This is as close as it gets to being relaxed and stress-free in a 24hr race (if that's even possible). Most of that is due to my incredible friends and teammates who joined me for 3 days of camping and racing at the base of Mt Washington. Of course it also helps to have near perfect weather once again!
I have to admit, acidotic RACING is pretty close to a well oiled machine when it comes to preparing for this event. From our reserved primo campsite, dedicated camp cook and sponsors galore, we generally have our act together. Everyone is supportive, everyone contributes something to the experience and everyone has fun, no matter how much experience you have riding. With three 4-person teams entered, there were always acidotic riders somewhere on the course and our presence was clearly visible to all.
So if you've never done this race, pencil it in for next year and I promise you won't be disappointed. Ok, I'll step down off my soapbox and put down the acidotic RACING flag for a while.

 I'll start off by saying the only negative thing that I can think of all weekend was my total lack of sleep. When I say total, I mean from Friday when I woke up until Sunday night when I went to bed, I probably slept less than 2hrs (and I think even that is a stretch). Fortunately (I guess), I'm used to very little sleep (4-5hrs per night is typical). Yes, I was tired even before the race began but all things considered, it went pretty well.

My teammates on aR-GOLD were Steve Sprague, Brayden Dunn and Jay Dunn. I was the 4th rider my 1st year, 3rd rider last year so it was only natural I take up the 2nd position this year. (I guess next year I'll ride lead-off?). Of course riding early also increases your chances of riding additional laps (which was ok with me). On paper going into this race, I thought we could squeeze out 26 laps (meaning everyone would ride 6 lap and Jay and I would ride 7).
acidotic GOLD (Steve S, me, Brayden, Jay D)
In the past I've raced the first lap pretty hard (my standards). My goal this year was to ride hard but leave some in the tank. I'd rather have 7 fairly consistent laps than one fast and every subsequent lap slower and slower. I was pleased to be able to ride the entire 8.3 mile lap (with nearly 1,100ft of climbing each lap). No hike-a-bike this year if I could help it. A couple of changes to the course made it a little easier to ride (Blueberry Hill up to the Honeymoon Cabin, Whiplash and the final single track leading to the "plunge"). The key being 'easier to ride', but not necessarily 'easier'. These were hike-a-bike sections for me in the past. I rode Whiplash every lap but it was a slow, rough ride (aka organ grinder). Same with the last single track section. I rode the new switchback section nearly every lap but it was a lot of climbing on tight switchback turns. The rest of the course was in great (albeit dusty) shape with no mud to speak of (until the last lap.....more on that later).

My first lap was 51:23, which turned out to be faster than any lap I've raced in the last 3 years. I was perfectly happy with it until I realized it was the 10th slowest opening lap of our 3 teams! Yikes! These guys are serious!
Exiting the 'plunge'
My second lap was 51:53, with consistency paying off so far and I continued to ride 100% of the course. My next two laps would be the beginning of the night laps. I chose to do my double night laps early because honestly, I was exhausted from a total lack of sleep. I just wanted the chance to lie down and hopefully get some sleep (or at least rest). So for the next 2hrs (and 16.6 miles) I rode in the dark. My first lap was a respectable 59:00 and the second just a tad slower at 1:01:44. I continued to ride 99% of the course, only getting off my bike a couple of times for some short sections.
When I got back to the campsite, I decided to see if I could rest in my truck (as opposed to the camper). The camper was 'base camp' and saw a lot of action, being near the food and fire pit, and was where most folks hung out between laps. I really needed some peace and quiet so I thought the truck would be a good choice. Turns out, not so much. For starters, even my small frame couldn't fit in the backseat. The awkward fetal position turned out to be incredibly painful when both my hamstrings (at the same time) cramped up. As I struggled out of my truck and wobbled around the campground clutching both hamstrings I could only imagine what the other campers were thinking when they saw me. This painful hamstring dance repeated itself for the next 1/2hr or so and there was nothing I could do to stop it. When they finally settled down, I climbed back in the truck to lie down. Unfortunately, now my hamstrings and calves were twitching almost nonstop. I laid there for the next couple of hours waiting for something to cramp up. Thankfully it never happened. At 2am Brayden knocked on the window. I was on deck for my next ride so I got up and got ready. Having just gone through hours of painful cramping, I had no idea how I was going to ride another lap....at night no less.
So at 4am sharp, I headed out on my 5th lap and 3rd night lap. Surprisingly I felt good. Really good. I was riding everything. Blueberry Hill, Whiplash, 'Jeep road', the final single track and even the plunge (which is tough at night). In fact, I rode 100% of the course and finished in a time of 53:49! Heck, I was so fast, Steve S wasn't even ready! Only Austin and David had faster night laps.
The 'race' between aR-BLACK and aR-GOLD was fairly close near the end but we couldn't keep the gap closed. I finished my 6th lap in 51:30, my 2nd fastest lap of the day. Although tired, I was feeling surprisingly well. Not sore at all. Just tired.
For 25 laps we had great weather. All that changed on the last lap. Just prior to me going out for my 7th lap the skies opened up. It poured. Since it was my last lap and Austin had a 9 minute lead and it was raining and I was tired, I decided I wasn't going to kill myself on the last lap. Enjoy it as much as possible, ride as much as I could and don't get hurt. The rain made the course considerably harder. The roots and rocks were slick as ice, the trails turned greasy and the 'plunge' turned into a muddy slip and slide. Thankfully I managed to get around without injury (only wet and muddy) and finished up in 58:38.
Me and Austin waiting for the boys on the 6th lap
In the end team aR-BLACK finished in 34th overall and aR-GOLD a few minutes back in 35th overall (out of 180+ teams). Awesome weekend!!

Here's a few pics, mostly from the start that I took.
Here's some more pics from Gianina.
And here's some pics from Great Glen.

Next up: Hampshire 100 this weekend, a 100k single loop mountain bike race. Yeeha!

photo credits - Gianina Lindsey