Okay, I spared no expense writing this entry and it’s long. If you want to be mildly entertained, grab your cup ‘o joe and enjoy! Big thanks to all of our sponsors.
This was definitely one exciting race trip. Thanks to Tough Girl for making me feel like a real pro! The team was amazing and took care of my entry fee, travel expenses, and support. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
24 hour racing is a whole different animal compared to XC or ST races. There are more tactics involved and in some ways, it’s a lot less stressful. If you make one mistake during a lap, it won’t cost you 10 spots like in a Norba National. Tough Girl was the talk of the venue when Janis’ bright pink van rolled into the ‘hood. Even at the hotel, people were excited about our team and taking pictures of the van. During the race, people were excited to see our pink kits and would yell, “There’s the pink girl! GO PINK!!!” The course was VOLUMES better than the one in Castle Rock back in June. One lap was 13.2 miles on super windy, technical singletrack. There were some spots where the trees were so close, I felt myself rounding my shoulders to get through. These trees became a liability after the sun went down. I hit my shoulder pretty hard on a tree, and I also navigated a slick root wrong and hit my head on a tree. Thank you helmet. There was minimal climbing—about 500 feet per lap. Normally I wouldn’t be happy with the lack of elevation gain, but when I’m doing several laps over the course of a day, I don’t mind so much. It was also nice to be near sea level. Every time one of us returned from a lap, we would be elated exclaiming, “That was SO fun!” That’s what it’s all about.
The weather ended up working out perfectly for most of the day. I mentioned in another entry that we woke up to extremely high winds and a downpour. The storm cleared out by the time we had to start the race which I was very thankful for. I don’t really mind racing a 2.5 hour cross country race in poor conditions, but 24 hours of it did not sound too appealing and had me with a pit of dread in my stomach…. especially after racing collegiate nats in PA last October in some pretty epic conditions. It remained fairly cloudy during the day and probably around 80. That was much more desirable compared to the 95 degree temp with humidity the day before.
Lisa did the first lap which started with a run and she pulled a blazing time. There was also 12 hour race that started with us, so the singletrack was crowded. For the most part over the course of 24 hours, people were very nice and would even pull over to let you by. Of course there are always some chodes who get in the way. This stupid guy WOULD NOT get out of my way on one lap. He let the man in front of me by, and even after me asking nicely three times to get by him, he would not let me by. Finally I got fed up with him, chanced it on the almost dizzying singletrack, and got around him. I managed to keep my big mouth shut as I went by him. I bet it really hurt his fragile ego as I passed him wearing all pink. Maybe if his head wasn’t so big he’d go faster. My second lap was the fastest, even with an endo wreck (which made my chain fall off) and the fact that my rear tire was rubbing a little on the frame. I was pretty happy to FINALLY feel good on the bike. Immediately after that lap on the way back to the tent, there was a sonic boom…also known as my rear tire. There was a big hop in it that we couldn’t fix. The hop got progressively worse during the lap causing my tire to rub on the frame. It turned out that the bead was bad and the flat tire gods were smiling on me that day because a blow out on that course would have been really bad news. Maybe they felt bad for making me double flat at Snowmass. After that was on to the night laps. I definitely need to work on riding at night. I don’t have the best night vision to begin with and I was going really slow. My lap times were 8-11 min slower than my day laps. I just couldn’t really see well enough to feel comfortable going fast through the curves when I couldn’t see around the corner. The rocks were really hard to see as well. I did better on my second night lap at 2:30 AM, but was still pretty timid. I was afraid to pass people on the first night lap, but the second one I had more confidence and was putting the hurt on some fools. I need to learn how to night ride like Lynn.
At about 4:30 AM, disaster stuck. At the time, I was trying to sleep and about 20 minutes after I had dozed off into peaceful serenity, I awoke to mass chaos. Everyone was running around and the side of the tent was whipping around and blowing wildly. I sat up and realized the grave situation. A HUGE storm was on the move and we were frantically trying to get everything ready for the torrential rain and wind that would soon be upon us. Poor Janice was still out on the course along with many other unfortunate souls. The lightning was blinding, the thunder was deafening, the wind was blowing the tent around, and the rain was hammering down hard. Everything got soaked. We had to keep pushing on the roof of the tent because water would accumulate and make a huge puddle on top. The trails instantly turned to rivers and the already slippery rocks and roots became treacherous. Super tough Janice fought through the storm and finished the lap. She later said her bike was like her canoe and that she actually had fun except for the lightning. They stopped the race for about 45 minutes due to the lightning. Lisa was freezing under the start/finish area, trying to wait patient for the weather to cooperate. The rain started to subside, and even though another storm was rumored to move in, they restarted the race. This was unfair because certain teams were only about 5 minutes apart, and by stopping and putting everyone in one area, whether it be the start/finish or one of the three checkpoints, these time gaps were lost. I think they were going to somehow try and factor those in the times. Lisa went out onto the course which was now a totally different place. Trees were sagging low with rain, smaller trees had fallen across the trail, and there were hub-deep puddles. The storm moved in again, but Lisa pressed on and pulled a smokin’ lap considering the conditions. We were debating whether we actually needed to do another lap since we were already ahead and conditions were poor. They ended up calling the race at 8 AM, but took the lap count as of 5:30 AM meaning that our last 2 laps didn’t even count. A lot of people were dissatisfied with this conundrum because it very well could have cost them the national championship. Fortunately we were consistently ahead all day and were in good shape for the win. HOW TOUGH ARE YA!
Our team worked really well together and we had a great group dynamic going. Everyone had a fantastic attitude and was very thoughtful and caring of one another. Our support was phenomenal thanks to Chris and Mike.
It felt SO good to win the national championship. You don’t get to do that everyday! The prizes were pretty good too. I got some 500 dollar disc brakes. The race was very organized and the promoters did an excellent job. I also have to mention that the race was very well spectated. There were 3 different parties going on all night long(at least until the storm). One had a strobe light and loud music as you approached, so I showed the drunk, enthusiastic spectators my sweet dance moves while on the bikes. I’m glad to be heading home. I don’t envy Wisconsin residents. It wa
s unbelievably hot and humid. Walking outdoors felt like swimming. Apparently cheese curds are a common staple there. You’d have to hold me down and forcefeed me to get that down the hatch. We also noticed that there were a LOT of rude people in town. What’s up with that? I guess I’d be grumpy too if I had to deal with that heat/humidity every day.
The next 24 hour race is Rage in the Sage in Gunnison, CO. It’s in a few weeks…over my bday. What a great thing to be doing as I turn 23! If I’m feeling recovered, I’ll be hammering at an XC race in Winter Park this weekend.
There were no hot podium boys…what’s up with that??!? Stay tuned!