I had to pull the plug on Great Glen. Linnea's brother Nils is a sick athlete and wanted to take my place, so there was just no good reason to try to ride 12 hours with seven fresh stitches in my knee. I was relegated to pit crew. As I rode and ran around during the race my knee throbbed a lot, so I think it would have been a bad one had I tried to race.
Anyway, here's a collection of memorable things from the weekend.
1) This year there were two "Pro" teams throwing down intense laps the entire race. For the last 12 hours of the race they were about 10 minutes apart. They beat the next team by 3 laps. One of these teams featured Thom P rocking the singlespeed to some 40-minute laps. I was pulling for them, not so much because I "know" Thom through the internets as much as because their team name was about 100x cooler than their opponents. "Go Ugly Early," it sounds both hardcore and comical. I'm still not sure what it means, I think it's about dropping the hammer from the opening gun, but it could also be about Thom's strategy picking up women at bars. Who knows. Anyway, these guys rode insanely fast the whole time, it was fun keeping tabs on their head-to-head race.
2) Justin and Ben dominated first the double-single category and then the rest of the pairs field. We shared a campsite with them so I was intimately familiar with their progress. After four laps they were leading their category by only seven minutes, but they barely slowed down and stayed rock solid for a whole 24 hours. They eventually beat their closest opponents by seven laps and finished second out of all pairs teams, 21st overall! The leading pair team was only a lap ahead of them and had at least one "pro" on it, so they were really that fastest normal humans.
3) Melanie Brown proved once again that she's pretty much the terminator when it comes to a 24 hour race. I don't really know much about her except that she should really think about competing in 24 hour events at the national level. This year there were only 3 women riding solo. She rode 23 laps. Second place rode 7.
Since she had no women to race, she ate up and spat out the men's field instead. After one lap she was way back, not even in the top ten. When the sun went down she was up to maybe 5th or 6th, and one by one the men in front of her cracked and slowed down. Meanwhile, she kept banging out 60-70 minute laps all freakin night and when the sun came up she was 2nd overall.
4) Linnea and Nils fought for the entire race to get to 24 laps and a huge victory in the mixed pairs category, winning by 10 laps. They ended up as the 5th place pairs team. I ran my ass off all day and night supporting them, and ended up sleeping less than either one due to all the force feeding, waking racers up, setting up lights, etc that I did while it was dark. They actually wasted an hour due to mechanicals, lighting mishaps and a missed exchange in the morning, so they could've been even better. 11 laps for Linnea meant that she rode the 2nd most laps of any woman there, behind the bionic Melanie Brown. I am super proud of her for hanging in there to ride respectable laps all morning even with no competition, plus she gave me a lot of practice in trying to get deliriously tired people to do simple things like get the hell up and get dressed or you're going to miss your lap.
Ok, you have to be there in 10 minutes, eat this sandwich
Yes I filled your camelback. Here's your jacket. Eat the sandwich. You have five minutes
We have to go over there, he could be done by now. Stop staring blankly into space and eat the sandwich
Here he is. Ok, I'll meet you at mile 2 with some gels. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD EAT THAT SANDWICH
But seriously, it was fun to help. I know how hard it is to function when you're that tired, I can't even think straight after a two hour race.
5) Alex had a typical Alex-type experience with a blown lap (no timing chip) and a crash that broke her helmet and light. I'm sure she'll talk about it so I'll let her have at it.
6) When the sun went down and the dew came out, no one could ride the steep singletrack descent at the end of the lap. I went up and hid in the woods in the dark and watched, seriously, one out of every six riders eat it. Wet roots + scared riders stiffening up in the dark = crashtastic. I tried so hard to get my video camera to work but it was pitch dark. No one got really hurt so it's ok to laugh about it.
I have some video I might edit up later, I video'ed the entire field descending "the plunge" on the first lap and of course no one crashed. Maybe I can find some good stuff anyway.
7) C Todd packed it in in the morning because his IT band was rebelling against his body. This kept him off the course at noon so he didn't get an official finish, which is kind of a BS rule. In any case he did 12 laps and was as high as 5th out of 15 in his category at one point. Since I rode zero laps he wins the challenge, although I feel compelled to note that my replacement rode 13 laps and thus I would've had a real chance at the win.
But I did get to meet him and he gave me a wicked nice beer, which was cool, even though it doesn't really make any sense. Maybe he was delirious too.