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24hr Solo World Championships

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    • #13866

      Hi Lynda,

      It’s been a little over a week since I raced at the world 24hr championships and I thought I’d share a write up and some thoughts.

      Going into this race I didn’t know if I would be outclassed. Although I have some ultra-distance races under my belt, going against the some of the best in the world felt daunting. Your advice and of course the preparation of your 24hr PR plan was perfect. I made a critical mistake in training…cutting out some of the core work…which I think played into my weakening in the end. It’s a mistake I won’t make again.

      Here’s the write up:

      24 hour world championships recap:

      155 miles and 22,000ft of climbing. It’s Monday morning and I’m still in bed…after 12 hours of sleep. My body has a level of soreness I haven’t experienced before…there are few places that don’t hurt. It was a super tough race but thoroughly satisfying.

      First, the venue in Northern California absolutely beautiful. Majestic mountains and rivers. And the people have been super. It’s like the entire town came out to support the race. It was impressive.

      The race was on an almost 13 mile loop with around 2000′ of climbing per loop…almost all of that in the first 3 miles. There were segments that were 20%+…thats steep! And it was on a loose gravel fire road which made it nearly impossible to stand without slipping.

      Within a quarter mile of the start there was a steep 100 foot drop. Now I’ve got pretty good bike handling skills but this Hill had to be at least a drop 45%. It was loose and there were small gullys. Basically it was a controlled slide. Admittedly, it scared the shit out of me the first few times down…and then at night.

      After the climb there was a flat dirt road section for about half a mile, we had 25-45mph winds for a 6 hours or so which was a bit challenging, and then the downhill started. Prior to the race I thought I’d be able to rest through basically a 6 mile downhill section. Wrong! I was in a squat above my seat much of the time do to the terrain. There was a section of snaking S turns on powdery loose dirt, lots of single track and most of all, speed. This takes a huge tole on your back, arms and hands.

      My strategy for the race was to try to start off slow and then maintain that pace for 24 hours. My first couple of laps were faster than I would have liked but after that I settled in…don’t push the pace uphill, maintain speed on the downhill. After a few laps, I was in 6th. Before the race I was hoping to place so where around 6th so I’m happy. A couple more laps I’m in 5th. I’m thinking top 5, woohoo! And then a couple more laps Jeff in my pit tells me I’m now in 4th and third is 30 minutes ahead. Now I’m thinking, shit, I’ve got a chance to podium. Holy shit!!!

      I make the decision to push the pace for a couple of laps and see what happens. By the next lap, I think the 9th, he’s 19 minutes ahead. Damn, I’m catching this guy. I keep pushing the pace. By the end of lap 10, only 8 minutes. Jeff tells me he’s number 94. Three quarters up the hill on lap 11 I see #94…walking a steep section. I press it and go past him hard up the hill…and then I blow up near the top and need to walk. On the flat section he catches me. I can’t stick with him through the downhill section. The dude was fast.

      The only way for me to beat this guy is to build a lead on the hills so I decide for the next 3 laps to the end of the race, hit the hill hard. I’m a few minutes behind at the start of lap but I catch him about half way up and then I put the hammer down. All I’ve got until top of the hill. I didn’t know at the time but I had put about 7 minutes on him.

      I start the downhill section maybe taking it faster than I should have but I thought this guy would come close to catching me downhill. On some very narrow single track on a steep downhill pitch I couldn’t hold the corner and flew off the trail. It was a ten foot drop an I landed hard. My bike was twisted. Damnit! I do a quick assessment. I tumbled hard and my wrist was throbbing…no break though. My back had landed on a stump. It hurt like hell but nothing broken. Bike checks out, just twisted. One problem though. I can’t climb out back to the trail. Really loose dirt and I can’t get my bike and myself out. Fuck! 7 or 8 minutes pass and #94 sails by. Finally two guys come by and I hand my bike up and climb out. Total lost time, 10+ minutes. I need to get moving.

      As I start riding I’m having a hard time gripping my handlebars. My wrist is in bad shape. Even worse, my back hurts really badly . I can’t put much power in the pedals without pain and every bump causes pain. I know within a few miles my race is done. I can’t control the bike anymore. I have to ride really slowly. And it sets in. I’m going to have to stop at the end of the lap. At first I’m crushed. Making the podium at the world championships…I couldn’t even dream of that happen. And then… I’m good. I told my coach before I started training for this race, I just want to see if I can race at this level. I had no illusion of making the podium. I know without that crash I would have made the podium. Furthermore, 4th in the World Championships is not too shabby!

    • #13868

      Thanks for the report. Sounds like you had a great race going!

      Core work is essential for any 24 hour or bikepacking race. I hope you didn’t break anything in that fall. It sounds big! Keeping your cool and patience going in a race is something we all need to work on, especially when we are peaked, excited and also fatigued. Create some mantras to repeat in your head to use when needed. I like “smooth is fast”. It reminds me to focus on skills to gain speed not just to go-for-it. I write it in the back of my number plate or on my stem.


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