June 14/01 4:25 am - Shep Report (24 Hour)
Posted by Editor on 06/14/01
Do I have a moustache? No. Do I have a helmet mirror? No. Do I wear baggy shorts? No. These are the questions I was asking myself when Peter Gilbert of Cane Creek propositioned me over two bottles of whine, and a deadly dinner at Don Giovanni's in Napa. Little did I know that 24 hour racing is all about mental games, distraction, and of course good old fashioned hard racing. Our task was to defeat the alien beast Trek/JBL whom Cane Creek had been brides maids to for a number of years. On paper both teams were solid and this race would not come down to one rider but all four riding consistently with no problems. Staff were the second part of the team and could not be underestimated. It was the mechanics, bike washer, masseuse, and manager who kept our bikes dialled and got us to the course on time
Team Cane Creek consisted of an experienced blend of characters namely:
- Roger Schultz: a swiss in his 4th year at this race and a pesky e-mailer who got the ball rolling on the team, racing to win in his last pro race
- Willow Koerber: the southern belle also a veteran Snowshoe racer and looking forward to ending it on top while paying her credit card off
- Gretchen Reeves: the other transplanted southern belle who hated it so bad last year that she needed to come back, win and buy shoes to forget
. . . and me, the positive one who didn't know any better! I found out at 1 am.
The start was reminiscent of an eight am pedestrian "go sign" in Tokyo. People flooded from the start, setting out on foot for a five minute loop that would take them to their bikes and out on the course. Roger was our start man and was able to stay in the top twenty by the time he got to his trusty stead. His plan was to pace first lap and save for the last lap the next day. Plan went well and he handed off to me in third place 6 minutes back. I hit the course steady and started to crank it up in the single track. Having no idea what the course was like yet after 500 people churned their way through the wet slop. "Not bad" I thought as I worked through the roots and rocks then past second place. At some point I had passed the Trek team member broken down on the side of the trail....too bad, so sad bye bye. Was able to ride most sections on this lap and the next while posting the two exact lap times of 1:06. Hell, this 24 hour racing is easy.....yeha I'll be able to do an extra lap.
Let me tell you about the 24 hour course. We pre-rode this loop and what we saw dumbfounded us. I mean the course was the knarliest flat cross country trail I have ever ridden....north shore included (key word flat). I don't care what anyone says....I've raced in BC since the late 80's and those courses were hard, but this was beyond. No race course, no fun or hell ride had this much rocks, rooots, mud, drop offs, half lakes, slick bridges, greasy climbs, rocky climbs, fast descents and of course everyone's favourite, the hike a bike. Great for the pre-ride as the four of us journeyed around hooting and hollering at the challenge set before us, not realising that this wasn't meant for 24 hours of 550 people a lap. At one point I pulled ahead of the others and then waited. It had taken us about an hour to get to this point and these poor citizen racers were trying to get over the fact that they had been out for 2:30! That is dedication.
Our laps rolled by as the skies darkened and the gap was starting to seriously grow on the other teams. The battle now was for second place as the third place team was catching Trek. Cane Creek was steady and motivated. I headed out in the night and could not believe what my teamates had just told me. The run. I mean not just the run section getting longer, but the whole single track on the first loop was running. We're talking two and a half miles! I shook my head in disgust and figured it would get better in the upper sections of the course, but no. Swearing echoed through the forests, riders were slouched over their bikes slogging through the spooge that was grinding their bikes to a halt. This was unfair! As I approached the second single track on the top, I realised that things were not going to get better. A line of 30 riders was walking through the mile long maze of roots that wound around a huge boulder field. Tripping on the roots, wasn't the only problem as foot deep mud sucked at your shoes, bike and patience. Thank you for Time pedals and having the ability to get in and out when on the bike! One rider cast his bike down in disgust, most likely with tears in his eyes and then it started. Riders started to yell out different things they would do to the organiser if they saw him on the side of the trail! Because it was West Virginia, lynching seemed to be the best way! I finished my lap and headed back to the condo disillusioned, stomach queasy, legs numb and spirit broken.
An hour later I lay cramped in my bed due to the nausea that had overwhelmed me. The toilet called again, puking out of everywhere.....not again. I can't go on! This is what 24 hour racing is about. This is the feeling the sport masses come for. Masochists! Pushing the body to a point where it says, "screw you man, I ain't doing another lap"! But you do. I could not get out of bed for three hours, baring fifteen trips to the bathroom. Each time I left the confines of my king sized abode, the scent of pesto pasta would tear at my stomach, arcing my back in a glorified ballet movement to the bathroom. Please someone throw the pasta out! Back to the bed and time would tick to my lap way too fast. Suddenly Willow was off the massage table catering to my pathetic display at being a 24 hour racer. Armed with Pepto, an ice bag and way to much energy from the green tea she was living off of, she brought me back from the brink of death (which for a 24 hour racer is saying you can't do another lap). "I'm sooooooo sorry", I gulped as I never believed that this would suck so bad. Body pain was pushed as I took one for the team and laced up the Lycra for yet another lap. Thank god for the Cane Creek post as it ass slapped me the whole lap keeping the bathtub plugged and reminding me that the toilet was the light at the end of the tunnel.
To conclude our battle, Roger had the task of finishing the last lap, as he got to do an extra one! Hey what a great present considering he would have the luxury of riding slow the last lap and getting to wait 17 minutes at the finish line (we had such a big lead that I didn't have to do another lap) until the clock struck 12pm. Bike held over his head in a display that rivals David (after disposing of Goliath). Trek was defeated by the underdog Cane Creek soldiers. My final thoughts were to compete again, I mean who can complain about standing on the podium, spraying champagne on second place with a $10,000 check at their feet? Willow brought be back to earth limping away with two words. Pesto Pasta.
- Cane Creek shared equal burden for men and women with Roger doing one more lap than everyone else who did 4
- Trek had their men do 5 each thus letting one of their women do only 3 (we still had a tonne of time on them)
- I was the fastest man every lap with the two fastest laps of the day by three minutes
- Roger was faster than Trek's fastest guy two out of four laps and faster than their second man every lap
- Willow was also faster than their fastest woman 2 out of 4 (Trek mechanical on one of the 4 laps) and faster than their second woman every lap
- Gretchen was as fast or faster than their second woman every lap
So it was team work that did it! Not me, the "RINGER" as Trek called me
For four laps we did:
60 kms of racing broken into:
16 kms of running, loping, walking
20 kms of riding flats or undulating
24 kms of hill climbing