Tuesday, July 24, 2007

So Here Goes

Here it is, my first entry. I've been looking to start a blog for awhile and now I've got a great reason. Through some good luck, lots of riding (and posting on MTBR) I was asked if I was interested in joining up with Vassago Cycles. I said yes immediately of course. I don't know too much about them yet but I'm learning fast. They seem like a really laid back company that makes some really cool 29 inch wheeled bikes.

So I mostly just wanted to get this thing going and say thanks to Vassago and all the other sponsors for the opportunity. I'm pretty excited about this and hope I don't blow it :). So bear with me as I get use to this blog thing. In the meantime here is one of my better race reports from The Burn 24 Hour Challenge as seen on The Bike Site. Hopefully there will be more of the same except this time on my new 29er bike.

The Burn is this 24 hour race down in North Carolina. It's a very cool event with a grass roots feel to it. The course is best described as a hilly Schaeffer Farms. Nothing technical, few roots that's about it. One lap is 6.5 miles.

Going into this I had a rough idea on what I wanted to achieve. I got 17 laps last year and I knew that I wanted to beat that. I also wanted to ride over 100 miles. One big difference this year was that I decided to do it on my single speed vs my geared, full suspension bike last year. Knowing how smooth the course was I figured this was a great race to try it out on. I was kind of worried about gearing since I don't really have a lot of experience riding the SS. I finally decided to go with a 32x19. Turns out this worked perfect. I was able to climb all the hills and I didn't feel like I was spinning out too much.

The start is a modified Lemans. Not sure what is modified about it but that's what they call it. Basically everyone sets their bike at the start line and you a jog a quick .5 mile or so around the campsite. I set my bike down in the back and get in with the rest of the solo guys. We basically do this thing at a fast trot. The start gun goes off and we do the run. I pick up my bike and and I'm nearly dead last but I figure I've got 24 hours to sort it out. I'll let the team guys fight it out up the first hill. I see guys struggling on the first climb and I'm thinking they are in for a long day.

It takes me about 1/2 lap to recover from the run. We hit the first major climb and what I feared was going to happen is happening. I'm stuck behind a bunch of guys spinning real fast in their granny gears. Guys are getting off and walking too. I managed to make it up ok and things are starting to spread out a bit so I settle into my pace and prepare to grind it out.

I'm about 5 hours in and things are going great. I'm climbing the hills fine, I never felt like my heart rate was getting too high. The biggest thing I was having trouble with were the brake stutter bumps going into fast corners. That rigid fork / aluminum frame is harsh in that stuff. The big tires I'm running are soaking up most of the other stuff.

I take my first break and see that I'm in 15th and that feels pretty good. Equal to last year. I see Mark Hendershot is doing a repeat of last year and is tearing up the course. I'm surprised to see Bob Anderson in 4th. I didn't know he was coming down. At this point I'm starting to think maybe I have a shot at meeting my goals.

The sun is setting and it's getting cooler. I'm starting to feel a little tired at 9 or 10 laps but I'm hoping the night laps will snap me out of my funk. It works, the change is enough to let me ride out of my low spot. I'm doing less consecutive laps now. I was doing 4 in a row before stopping, now I'm doing 3 in a row. One thing I've noticed about this bike is it demands 100% of my attention. This is kind of good because it doesn't allow my mind to wander and it lets me push the pain I'm feeling to the back of my mind. The disadvantage is that when I start getting tired I start getting sloppy. I figure it's best to stop more rather than risk a crash.

I manage to crank a few more laps out but it's getting tough. These night laps are hard. Espcially when it gets early into the morning. You're out there by yourself for the most part. It's cold and dark, every once in a while a team rider blows by you. It really starts to wear on you but I know I have to try and get as many laps in at night as I can. This is where you can really start jumping places quick because a lot of guys pack it in at night. It works, I check the standings and I've moved up to 11th. I decide to take a quick nap as a reward. I wake up feeling pretty good and manage to grind out 2 back to back laps. I take another quick nap but this one cost me, I've slipped to 12th but it was worth it because I was really feeling tired. My feet are really hurting but my legs feel fine.

I decide that I'll do one more lap and then try and time it so that my next lap happens at dawn. Dawn is the highlight of any of these overnight races. I can't describe the joy you feel when the sun starts coming up. First the sky starts getting a little lighter and then the birds start chirping. The best part is you can take the lead weight of a light off your helmet.

I'm riding ok at this point but I can tell fatigue is starting to set in. I try to do back to back laps but I'm struggling. I finally crack on lap 19. I check the standings, I'm back in 11th but I've got a few guys breathing down my neck. I know I have to go out again. I somehow mange to squeeze out 20. I'm walking some of the hills now (first time that's happened). I come back in and I'm still in 11th but there are about 2 hours to go and there are now 2 guys behind me with 19. I have to go out again. This lap is pure pain. It takes me well over an hour to complete it. I know this is my last lap, I've reached my physical limit. What ever place I get, I get. At this point I don't care.

I limp across the finish line and I see that doing that last lap paid off. I successfully defended my 11th place. I look at the standings and except for Mark and Bob, I'm right in there with my lap counts. The guys in 3 - 10 all have 24 to 22 laps. That makes me feel good.

So overall I had a blast. I loved doing this on my single speed, there's no going back now. My new favorite thing is blowing by geared, squishy bikes on the climbs. Especially the team guys.

21 laps
11th/47 or so
136 miles
17 hours

1FG, rigid singlespeed the whole way baby.


Mike said...

I didn't realize you bought yourself a nice cog until I saw that picture.

Kevin said...

Yeah I had to. Those cheap ones were digging into my freewheel pretty bad. It's worth paying a bit extra for the ones with the wider mounting point.

Misty said...

Welcome aboard Kevin. We're stoked to have you riding for us.

Just have fun.