The 24 Hours of Great Glen is a special race for me, because it's the perfect blend of stupidawesomesilly that gets me excited any time of the year. In the last 8 years, I've raced it 6 times and crewed it once. I have also been on the second place team for two years in a row now. Which is annoying, to say the least.
This year there were terrifying rumors of a super-pro-team showing up and crushing us... but sadly they turned out to be false. The alleged super-pro roster was actually so terrifying that it probably wouldn't have even been a race... but now we'll never know.
ANYWAY. We were the only pro team there, so my standard prerace anxiety was focused on the incredible shame we would feel if THE PRO TEAM got beat by any other team. That's pretty much as #notpro as it gets, right?
I have actually been feeling straight-up terrible since the Beverly Crit, but I was so JACKED UP to race the bikes that I almost convinced Mike to let me do the Le Mans start. Somehow he talked me out of it, and proceeded to crush lap one and give us a 1-minute lead. So far, so good.
I ended up fourth in the rotation, which meant I didn't even get to pedal until 2pm. I had TWO HOURS to work myself up... as if the fact that I took the entire week off anyway wasn't enough. My legs and lungs were unsure about trying hard, but my brain had already blocked them off entirely and was about to WIN ALL THE THINGS.
So I started my lap and almost certainly set the record for "fastest time to the top of the first climb." I was going first-lap-of-a-cross-race fast, without the drafting or coasting that makes first-lap-of-a-cross-race not kill you. About five minutes in, my lungs finally got a word in with my brain: YOU ARE GOING TO KILL US.
The rest of the lap was so, so sad. I had six HOURS total to race and I was pretty much blown six MINUTES into it. I limped around for the rest of the lap and clocked a 37:40, which sounds pretty good -- except that Kevin ('effing KEVIN!) had just posted a 35:22.
Lap two was ridden with significantly less fervor and yet was somehow faster. 37:26. Unfortunately, this was as fast as I was going to go for the whole event. And it was now 5pm, and even though we were already half a lap up I was already counting down the hours until I could stop racing. Which were a lot.
Sometime around 9pm we lapped second place, which confirmed my theory that WE GOT THIS, but did not cause any slowing down. Not when there was fastest-night-lap bragging rights on the line. Kevin ('effing KEVIN!!) led off with a 38:52 and I went out determined to beat him.
Night laps are super awesome because everything feels like warp speed because you can't see. I was DEFINITELY on a 25-minute lap pace, until I hit one of the punchy climbs and decided to stand up and DRILL IT. My trust $5 rear skewer decided to pop out of the dropout yet again (uh, not the first, second or third time this has happened this season) and the wheel jammed firmly into the frame at 15 mph or so as I ground to a halt. What's that smell? Burnt rubber.
In addition to creating a nifty wobble in my rim, I also bent the crap out of my disc rotor in this incident and rode the rest of the lap with it going KUH-SHUCK incessantly.
Needless to say this was not the fastest night lap. Luckily doctuhjay was just wrapping up a 12-hour 2-man adventure and was like, I hate my bike right now so you can definitely take a wheel of it!
Thanks Jay. Promise I didn't kill your wheel.. although not for lack of trying/riding style.
My next lap out started at 12:30 and midway through I came down with a nasty case of NIGHT EUPHORIA. Forgetting how much I wanted to be done for a few moments, I suddenly loved bikes, lights, darkness and fast laps. Things seemed to be going quite well, and I decided about halfway through that this would be my all-in attempt at fastest night lap.
I rode balls-to-the-effin-wall for the rest of the lap and still only managed a 39:46. Kevin, I hate you. And then Mike clocked a 39:33 directly after me, so I didn't even have fastest-post-midnight-night-lap.
Greg, you are my only friend.
It turns out that was the final effort my body had in it. Back at camp I was a wreck. I've never had problems staying up during these things and I was COMATOSE at 2am. Dragged myself back out for a 42-minute bonk lap, came back, ate and ate and ate and then passed out yet again at 5am.
I got up and did a morning lap that felt really quite decent.. only to come back and find out that I had done the slowest lap of my 4-man-team career at Great Glen. My body was DONE.
Luckily at this point we were two laps up on everyone and the rest of the team was solid. Remember how last year I joked about Greg being a zombie? Guess this year was my turn.
At 11:15 it started pouring rain, and we had the race in the bag, but quitting early ain't PRO at all. I rallied for a final lap, giving up 36 on the day at 9 laps apiece and the overall win.
|How many eyes are open in this picture? Zero? It should be noted that I was sleeping in the grass next to the tent about 60 seconds before this picture.|
|It's pretty cool how you can give me a beer and instagr.am a photo and suddenly it looks like I didn't want to die at the end of the race.|
|I look a lot radder if you pan the camera with me.|
It should be noted that when she went to sleep at 2am, I immediately forgot to eat as I had become a domesticated animal after 14 hours of having actual support at a 24 hour race.
Meanwhile the Union Velo guys somehow got fifth overall as a pair, which just hurts my brain to think about. I can't even blame it on old man power since one of them was younger than me.
The MRC expert team kept it TIGHT and pulled off second overall, which seemed pretty damn good to me for a bunch of old guys that I never see at mountain bike races. Wait, was that backhanded compliment? I dunno. They were movin'.
Lauren effing Kling murdered the women's field and much of the men's field. Again. She stopped at 6am because she had over double the laps of the second-place woman. I am not jealous of the fact that she rode a bike for 18 hours, but I respect the sheeeeeit out of that accomplishment.
Now that I finally was on the winning team at Great Glen (I can't even begin to pretend that I'm the reason we won), I'm not sure what to do next year. 24 solo? Duo? SKIP IT ENTIRELY?
Just kidding, I like riding fast and in the dark, I'll almost certainly see you there for #7.