The 2005 24 Hours of Soldier Hollow started at noon with the traditional Le Mans run. It was a very casual run. With the low number of racers nobody was to stressed about sprinting to the bikes. I led the “charge” and was first back to the bikes. The course turned pretty quickly to single track and I wanted to be up front so I could put in a good quick lap to start things off. I led the pack for about half the lap when the team rider (just one 5 person open team in the race) passed me. I paced him for a little while before he pulled away toward the top of the lap. I came in at 1:18 for the first lap and had put some good time on my opponents. The field was small, but I still wanted to get out quickly to see what everyone had in them.
I swapped bottles, grabbed some fig bars and was out for lap number 2. This was pretty much how the rest of the afternoon went. After 3 laps I had put about 30 minutes on the field. I arrived in the pits after my 5th lap just before darkness fell and I was freezing cold. The temps just plummeted when the sun started going down. I got dressed, got the lights on and was off for my first night lap. 2 laps later, and just after midnight I came in to find that the other 24 hour solo racers were all in dark, quiet tents. Hmmm…had they gone down for the night? Were they just taking a short rest? I rolled into my pits and took a few minutes to change my wet freezing clothing, drink some homemade (even the noodles were homemade!) chicken noodle soup and regroup a bit. Still no stir from the other tents. At this point I had a little over a one-lap lead over 2nd place. It was nearing 1 AM now, and I had lingered long enough. I decided I would head out on another lap and hopefully seal the victory.
So off I went into the darkness. The only other rider on the course at this point was a team rider. We left the start/finish toghether, but he was soon out of sight. It was out on this lap that I decided that if all the solos were still in bed that I would join them and wait out the rest of the night. As I pulled into the pits around 3:30 AM it was obvious that everyone was still down for the count. I got some hot food in me, dried off a bit, and “slept” in the front seat of my car. It was more a doze than anything. I would wake up every few minutes, check the watch, and doze some more. This was basically me going into the 4 corners “stall” offense. I had a big enough lead that there was no reason to go out again unless someone else did. So I waited until the sun rose.
At 6:30 AM I got out of the car, I so soooo cold. I figured the best way to warm up would be to get out on the bike and enjoy the sunrise. As I left the start finish area the other solo tents were still quiet. This lap wold give me a 3 lap lead. I finsihed it right around 9 AM. And that is when I decided to pack it up. There was no reason to go out again.
My support crew did a very good job. Wether it was Jeff and Derrick juggling a beer in one hand and chain lube in ther other, or my sister Jenna singing “We’re not gonna take it” over the 2 way radio at 3 AM, or Mike getting my lights hooked up faster than I could keep track of, everyone did a great job. Thanks guys! You kept 3 racers going strong!
Congrats to Dennis (2nd) and Carson (4th), two of my Mad Dog Cycles teamates for thier great rides in the 12 hour race. This was the first ultra endurance race for both of them. Carson deserves extra props for taking home the Ellsworth Truth frame in the raffle. Build it up! And extra props to Matt, I dont know how he did it, but he mixes the best bottle of blue Powerade I ever tasted.
I have to admit, this is not how I envisioned my first 24 hour solo victory. I think I envisioned it something like the Champs-Elysees glory fest at the end of the Tour de France, with big stars of the sport kneeling before my endurance prowess as I accept the…OK there go the delusions of grandeur again 😀
It was a small race. One that potentially can get bigger and bigger. The venue is one that could support many riders and support crew. It is a new event. This was only the second annual. But the race promoters are dedicated to it, and they are good people who I think can make this into a marqee race.
I had a great time. I was able to put into practice a lot of the things I learned at last years 24 Hours of Moab. I learned some things that I will be able to implement this year at Moab. I was pleased that for the first 12 hours, I was able to stick to the gameplan that I had set for myself. I had short pit stops, pretty consistent laps, I was eating better, and was feeling very good. I deviated from the game plan once I had built up a multi-lap lead. Part of me wishes I would have stuck to it through the entire night. The other part of me hopes that the bit of rest I got during the race will help me recover faster and get back to form for Moab. 😀
I am excited about the win. I am excited that the training I have been doing this year is working. It has been a long time since I felt really competitive on a bike. This year my race season got off to a horrible start, and I was playing catch up. Saturday I felt like I did in 2002 when XC podium finishes were the norm. It was a good feeling.
Thanks again to my support crew. my sponsors, and my family. My wife has put in many “solo” weekends this year while I go to events and long training rides. I know it can be hard at times with the 3 kiddies. Thanks for all your support, and thanks for being up at Soldier Hollow with the kids Saturday night to cheer me on.
Thanks to the guys at Acclivity for putting on the race. Keep up the good work guys, I am already looking forward to next year! And congrats to all who raced. Especially Zach, great race man! Your only 16 and already busting chops on 24 hour solo races! Keep up the great work.
Oh, and for you 29er lovers, the 12 hour solo winner, Riley Frazier, also rode a Fisher 29er hardtail. I think of the 15 or so 12 and 24 hour solo racers I counted 4 29ers. All fisher HTs. 3 of the 4 finished on the podium. 29ers are the real deal, and those riding one at the venue all ganged up the others and poured sweet 29er honey down their ears trying to convert the masses to the revolution. Or something like that anyway.
I’ll get some photos of the race up tomorrow.