Well, the 24hrs of Great Glen race is over. I feel like I brought a knife to a gun fight. Nay, I feel like I brought a rubber chicken to a gun fight.
First, a word (or more) about the weather. Friday night, as Doug and I were trying to load the car up, we had thunder and lightning in biblical proportions. I haven't seen weather like that in a long time. That delayed our departure by quite a while and we had patchy rain and fog the whole drive up. I opted to grab a hotel on the way up rather than set up camp in the dark and in the rain. We had some more light rain Saturday morning, but, miraculously, the rain stopped just before the race started and we had clear skies all the way through until the race ended Sunday. THEN, however, while many racers were still sitting/eating/drinking/recovering, the skies opened up again with torrential downpours and hail. Fortunately, Doug had started our packing process while I was out for my last lap, so our gear was all packed up just as the first drops started to fall. That rain continued intermittently on the way home, even forcing me to stop because visibility was zero just beyond my dashboard.
Now, the course. Check out the GPS data here. In total, I did 7 laps for a total of about 8400ft of climbing. The race had to be modified because of all of the rain/mud and a couple of sections were cut. There was still more than enough mud to go around though. In my mind, there were two distinct types of trails in the race--fast, SMOOTH fireroads, and muddy, gnarly walking sections; with only some sections that were rideable singletrack. The course also changed throughout the race as well, with some sections getting worse, some getting better. I don't know if it was "fun," but the scenery was spectacular. I was going to go out after the race and take some pics, but the hail was sort of a buzz-kill.
And finally, here's the race report. The race started with a 1/2 mile run (why?) around a pond before we grabbed our bikes. I wanted to take it easy on the run--this isn't a sprint--but I was being beat by a guy in an Elvis costume and a guy in a viking helmet, so I picked up the pace a bit. My heart rate hit the 170's and didn't let up. After getting on the bike, we crossed the road to a switchback climb on the appropriately named Blueberry Hill. Clogged with riders, this became a walk, and after a quick downhill, we were back across the road to the main part of the course.
As I said before, I was either riding as fast as I could on the smooth fireroads or slogging through deep mud, pushing/carrying the bike. Rob and I switched off lap for lap with no big problems for several hours. I went out for my 5th lap (a night lap, with lights in full effect), and trouble started. I got through about 80% of the lap before I had some leg cramps threaten to bring me down, but I was still moving, then I got a spasm in my back that took my breath away. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to walk, it hurt to oxidize carbohydrates. I had a similar problem on a run a few weeks ago, and that took almost a week of NSAIDs and other treatments to resolve. I honestly didn't think I'd even be able to walk out of the woods to finish the lap. Of course, the truly painful part was the realization in the back of my mind at how meaningless my pain was. Oh well, it still hurt. Anyway, I limped out of the woods, slowly rolled in to the end of the lap and told Rob the bad news--I thought I was done.
I got back to my car, and because I couldn't even think about crawling down to the ground to sleep in my tent, I slept in the Element. Believe it or not, it was fairly comfortable. I pumped myself full of medications and fluids, and tried to sleep it off. I woke up at about 5:00am and the pain was still there but not as bad. I walked over to the main tent and found that, surprisingly, even with our break, we were still in 2nd place. Rob got up shortly after and went out for another lap. By the time he got back, I had loosened up enough to feel like I could go out again. I was able to keep the spasm in check and we were able to pull a total of four more laps in on Sunday to secure second place. Pay no attention to the fact that there were a total of 3 teams in the two-man singlespeed division. Ignore that fact.
I kept myself full of ibuprofen and had the heating pad on my back for the whole drive home.
It was good to hang out with everyone--Rob Bousquet, Renee Bousquet, Dan Walsh, Todd Roberts, Mike Deak, Ron Salb, and Doug Salb, and it was VERY helpful to have Doug provide support/assistance. THANKS!
I also have to thank Jamie at Western Cycle for all of my last-minute bike needs, Mike Lawless for letting me borrow his Rig as a back-up parts bike (not needed), and to Trek/Gary Fisher for getting me a replacement eccentric bottom bracket at the last minute. In the days leading up to the race, I wanted to "fix" something on my bike, I made it worse, and I freaked.
The bike is happy now, although it is completely disassembled. Just about all of the laundry has been done, and almost all of my stuff is back where it belongs. Next up, some cyclocross races this fall and the Stonecat Trail marathon... Yee ha!