This past weekend Scott Wilton and I competed in the Minnesota 24 in Redwing, MN. Scott rode the 12 hour solo category. I was planning to do the 24 hour duo, but ended up riding the 24 hour solo when my partner couldn’t make it fit in his schedule.
The course was a nearly 6 mile loop of mostly single track with about 750 feet of climbing per lap. It featured a few small log-overs but was otherwise smooth and flowing singletrack. There were also a few climbs that were too steep to be ridden during the race by either of us and one climb that most of the bikers walked too.
The race started at 10am. The first ~3/4 of a mile was on single track with a widely mowed swath around the fields, flatish and smoothish. Scott was mid-pack, I was dropped and riding alone very quickly. At the turn around halfway through the field section there were a few people cheering and one woman (who had been at the rusty ride) called out to me “You’re more of a man than I,” I responded “yeah, technically that’s true”, which got some chuckles.
My first lap was my best at 1:10, much better than the 2 hour lap I did on my course pre-ride. Sure, we skipped 2 major climbs and I didn’t have any points of question on which way the course was going, but it was much quicker than expected.
Did I mention the weather yet? It wasn’t hot exactly, only a high of 75F. Virtually no wind, humidity hovering between 65% and 90% all day. Much more humid than It’s been around here lately and my body did not like it. When I took my gloves off they generally took 30-45 minutes before they returned to normal from their extremely pruney state.
My second lap started okay, but by the halfway point I was very overheated and had to go shirtless. At the top of stairway I had to sit for another 10 minutes because of cramping issues. The cramps felt like lack of salt cramps rather than overuse cramps. I stopped at the mid-lap food/water stop for something salty, and all they had were cola flavored energy gels. Worst flavor for an energy food ever. Just before the finish of lap 2 I puked the entire contents of my stomach, which was mostly water anyways. The time was reasonable, though.
I took 45 minutes off before starting my third lap and tried to eat/drink whatever I could. It wasn’t enough. About 15 minutes into the lap I decided I was too tired and took a nap in the grass 10 feet off the trail. Pretty sure I hadn’t gotten enough salt back yet. I had to take another long break at the top of stairway, but felt reasonable by the time I crossed through start/finish.
I took a little over an hour off before starting my 4th lap and it went okay. Still very hot, still tired, but less cramping this time. Scott had some hammer electrolyte powder for me, so I was sucking that down every 10 minutes or so. I also found a water bottle full of Gatorade that had fallen out of someone’s cage on a bouncy downhill, I took it back to start finish for the fee of drinking about half of what it contained. This helped as I’d run out of hammer.
Another hour or so off before the 5th lap, and trying to decide if I even wanted to do a 5th lap Saturday. One of the 6 hour racers I had chatted with earlier offered me a bowl of ramen and that was amazing. I ended up doing the lap and it took me about 1:40 from the car to the finish line, in the dusk for the first half hour and darkness for the rest. I had to take a break in the dark in the middle of stairway because I cramped and couldn’t keep walking. I also managed to fall and put a 2 inch slice in my palm grabbing a tree on the way down. The glove was fine. It didn’t really hurt the hand as the skin on my palm was so soggy. I also managed to empty my stomach again in the same place on the course, again it was mostly water and banana bits but with some ramen remains as well.
As I finished lap 5 there was no question that I was done for the night. 9:15, there was pizza coming for all racers at 10:30. Time to change into something dry, make a sandwich and wait for pizza, hang out and talk to other racers. Scott came in around 9:30 looking very hungry before his last lap and I was holding half a sandwich at the time. I offered it to him and he ate it rather quickly before leaving for his last lap.
The pizza arrived and an army of hungry racers devoured. When I noticed it was almost gone and Scott wasn’t due back for at least ten minutes I snagged a couple pieces for him, imagining the disappointment that a lack of promised food post race would bring. After some cool down we went back to make camp, eat more food, and try for sleep. By the time I actually got to bed it was nearly midnight and I had the alarm set for 6:40. I didn’t sleep well. One of the downsides of riding shirtless all day was a small bit of abrasion on my lower back. It wasn’t bad when walking, but trying to sleep hit it just wrong.
I was up at 6:30 and ventured to find breakfast. The racer food table still featured bananas, peanut butter cookies and fruit and nut bars. I had one of each along with half a single slice peanut butter sandwich, loaded an extra bladder with a heed/Gatorade mixture, and was out riding by 7:05. Those first small inclines on the field were brutal. Otherwise lap 6 was uneventful. My legs were feeling much better than they were on laps 3-5, but it was morning. When I got hit by my first burst of morning sun near the end of the lap I checked the time, 8:30. I could sit in the sun for an hour and a half before crossing the line, or I could go for another lap.
After crossing the line I refilled water and again tried to eat whatever my stomach would let me get down. At 9 I was off again with another fresh jersey and the knowledge that it was my last lap. Shortly after the start of #7 I got my favorite comment of the race, “you know they’re going to haul you off after the race, right?” “huh?” “To the Institution, you’re just doing it for the free ride?” The stream of positive comments and thumbs up as I got passed continued, even increased as the end neared. I had a hard fall coming into the bottom of Stairway, by far my hardest fall of the race. Bit of bruising on my forearm and hip and caked with dust rapidly turning to mud, but nothing major. I took a 5 minute before the hike.
At the finish I was greeted to a large group of cheering folks, a cold water-bottle shower, and some pizza. After 20 minutes of milling about, eating, drinking a lot of water, and a hot shower we headed back to camp to pack up and wait for awards. They were pretty efficient, and lots of folks walked away with some stuff. Scott got a pair of tires and a patch kit, I was gifted a crankset with bottom bracket and a water bottle. We both got medals, though mine was essentially a “We can’t believe you tried this. You didn’t win, but thanks for being here” sort of thing.
Scott Managed 12 laps in 12:54 for approximately 70 miles and 9000 feet of climbing, finishing 2nd among two solo 12 hour riders. I survived 7 laps in 24 hours and 30 minutes for about 41 miles and 5000 feet of climbing, by far the most I’ve ever done off-road in a day. There was someone who finished behind me (with 5 laps in 24 hours), so technically I didn’t even finish last.
I rode a KH29 with 165’s, a Trail King (Rubber Queen) 2.4 and Magura. I pre-rode the course brakeless with 140’s and was able to ride the whole trail, minus the few climbs noted.
Scott rode his Geared 26 with Ardent 2.4, 137’s, disc brake, and short t-bar.
I’m sure I forgot some things so hopefully Scott will help remind me.
Results: Scott as Himself, I’m under team All Wheel Drive http://www.peaktiming.com/results/2012minnesota24/.
Scott mid afternoon
Me, early lap 3 (or 4?):
Medal I received for being the only 24 hour solo unicyclist: