This was a damn hard race. 17 laps, 436kms and over 20,000ft of elevation gain and a finish in 7th place left me exhausted…….and somewhat unsatisfied.
Going into this I really believed that I could finish in the top three, my fitness was good and I was rested. In early January I was in Bali for a sweet little vacation. At the end of my vacation in Bali I was struck with a stomach bug/flu which kicked the crap out of me…a real black plague. I managed to recover and get back on the bike and with the fantastic coaching of Shaun Taylor (Forward Momentum Coaching) was ready to race. Andrew Bovard and I made the journey south from Jasper, Alberta to Tucson, Arizona. Once down in the warmth of the Desert it was time to get some dirt under the tires of my Kona King Kahuna. This was a welcome change from riding on Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pros in freezing temps. We got out on the race course for a few practice laps and I got everything dialed and I was feeling very good. Julie Kelly another strong Forward Momentum Coaching athlete also showed up to get in on the action at 24HOP. Friday we got the pre race lap in on the course and got the pit set up in a prime spot thanks to some help from Al Lewis, a solid guy and a real supporter of the 24HOP. Even though we were all doing this race unsupported and would not be in the pit a whole bunch it is nice to have spot to put all of coolers and gear.
Friday night was spent relaxing and prepping bottles of Infinit Nutrition and having some good laughs with Andrew and Julie at the 3C Ranch
Race morning came quickly as always and we were off to the race venue, with our coolers full of Infinit ready to tackle the 16th Annual 24hrs of Old Pueblo. The start of the race went well… I did not get trampled in the madness that is the Lemans start. I dislike running so once it was over I was back in my happy place flowing through the single track. The first few laps of a 24hr can be mildly annoying…more than once I was passed by someone racing as part of team. I would hear the heavy breathing and then the “on your left” or “I need to get by you” and before I could respond or try to make room, more often then not they were already bashing through the cactus beside me nearly taking me out. This was always done by someone with little experience racing and not in any shape to be riding as hard as they were. Surprisingly I only lost it once and I feel somewhat bad for it, I was passed dangerously by this out of shape guy who then once by me was getting off his bike in the middle of the trail to push his bike up the next climb. My advice to him was “Pass me like that again and I will kick you off your $@cking bike” It took me a few minutes after this to get back to my happy place and focus on just flowing along as this was only the second lap of many to come. The first 6 laps of the race for me went well or so I thought…..during lap seven and nearing 10pm I started the downward spiral into the pain cave. It came on quick and caught me somewhat by surprise….I was now a complete “barney” and it was taking all my of concentration and effort to just keep moving forward I felt like a complete bag of shit. After the second lap at a much slower pace then I wanted I realized I had “bonked” and that it was my own stupidity during the first 6hrs that had put me in a deep dark hole. I then hatched a plan to try to get back in the race and pushed the negative thoughts out of my mind. I was angry now….mad at myself for making such a silly mistake….simply not taking in enough calories during the first 6hrs of the race had caused me a great deal of suffering.
I started to get back on track with my nutrition and by 4am I was starting to feel alot better. However the damage had been done….I had lost a lot of time on the leaders. I decided that I would still give everything I had to make up as many spots as I could, I told myself this was punishment for making the fatal error in the first 6hrs, I wanted to make myself never forget how hard a 24hr race can be if you don t pay attention to the details and execute on all levels. The last 8hrs of the race were grueling and I pushed myself harder than I ever have before in any race. I managed to climb up the standings a few spots and in the end was 7th one lap back of 1st and 2nd place and only 5 min of the 6th place finisher. My last lap was only 8 seconds slower than my first and at the end of the race after riding for 436kms with more than 20,000ft of elevation gain…..the only thing I wanted was to keep racing,catch and pass the guys ahead of me.
Although I did not have the result I wanted, I learned a lot during this race and I am richer because of the experiences that I had. This is also what I love about 24hr Mtb racing more than anything, being able to explore what exactly I am capable of and pushing my mind and body to its limits. I haven t found those limits yet and I am already looking forward to more exploring. Thanks to my coach and mentor Shaun Taylor (Forward Momentum Coaching). Also my family Amber, Faith, and Ty for putting up with and supporting me while I spend countless hours training and focusing on racing.
Thanks to Freewheel Cycle Jasper, for keeping me rolling on my Kona bikes. Also Infinit Nutrition, I have said this before your product is a game changer, and it really makes doing these 24hr races unsupported possible, thanks for making such an amazing product, and the great customer service.
Thanks to Lupine Lighting North America, your lights made short work of the darkness, and performed flawlessly. Bar none the best light set up I have used. The Betty R on my handlebar and the Neo 2 headlamp were awesome. Thanks for the support.