Where can we look up the results would love to read about it, Congratulations
Here's a little bit of the story...
As always I came into this event undergunned. :-D Everybody has a crew, a tent, a bunch of chairs, maybe several bikes. I just have myself, my Aero, a basket of snacks, a bag of bottles, and a box of tools. When I pulled up some volunteers told me, 'This parking is reserved for riders.' Showed them my race number...parking secured!
Kitted up. Did a quick equipment check. Gave the bike a test ride. Then took a nap.
Woke up a half hour before race time. Hopped on the bike & rolled to the rider's meeting. Made sure my lights were on. Turned on my GPS tracker. Plugged in my garming. Time to ride.
Immediately made my first mistake. :-D Forgot part of my nutrition. I normally carry one bottle with 640kcals of Maurten, two gel flasks with 280kcal dextrose/120kcal fructose/0.125tsp sodium citrate, and one maurten jelly w/100mg caffeine. I forgot the gel flasks and the jelly. No prob...the bottle would last me 2 hours & each lap of the 26.4 mile course takes about an hour and a half so plenty of time to get back to base camp & grab the rest of my nutrition. Just meant an extra stop that I didn't want to take.
As always happens when I ultra race...right to the back of the race. Almost always I'm one of the last or the last rider at the end of lap 1. Seems like it's a popular ultra race strategy to start a little fast. Doesn't work for me, though, so I gotta just watch all those little blinky lights disappear in front of me.
Race started at...can't remember exactly. Probably 6p because sundown was a little after 7:30p & we were riding in the dark by lap 2. To me the hours between 3a and 6a are the best riding hours so I was looking forward to it. Of course when the sun comes up that's always a special time if you've been riding all night. Weather was cool but not cold. The riding was good. Didn't have good legs but also didn't have high expectations so whatever was going to happen was going to happen.
For me, the race almost ended well before sunrise, though! I had latex tubes in my tires because they provide the best rolling resistance of any tire setup...but latex tubes lose pressure fast so every 5 or 6 hours I like to top them off. My HED trispoke wheels sometimes make it a little tough to get the bike pump extension into the little carbon cubby that houses the valve stem. It's even harder in the dark when you're a little tired. Somewhere around midnight I topped off my tire pressure & re-upped my nutrition & hydration. Had trouble getting the nozzle off the rear wheel & popped the wheel out of the dropouts to get more leverage/better angle. Didn't want to accidentally break off the presta valve or bend the derailleur or something. No prob...nozzle off...wheel back on...back on course.
Somewhere into that next lap I stopped to take a natural break. I was on a pretty good little hill at that time so maybe not the best place to stop but when ya gotta, ya gotta. Since there was a little bit of a gradient when the bike got restarted I really had to mash that first pedal stroke & when that happened the back wheel slid right out of the dropouts. The wheel jammed between the rear brake and the frame & the dropouts made a horrible noise when they came crashing down on the asphalt.
Major cluster foxtrot. It was totally dark out. Couldn't see what the problem was. Thought maybe my frame broke. Still don't know 100% what happened but my best guess is the quick release didn't close tight enough when I replaced the rear wheel after airing it up. After taking my front light off to use as a trouble light I was able to get the wheel out of the brake/frame vise & get it back between the chainstays properly. Got out my chainbreaker and used the hollow handle as a cheater bar to really torque down the quick release skewer. That whole process cost me more than half a lap.
Got back on the road with a major sense of relief but at the top of the hill started to think, "Better be 100% sure that wheel and that brake are OK before I descend back down to the Brazos River at 45mph." So I stopped and did a thorough inspection at the top of the hill.
Ok. So, now I was feeling pretty good! Had a nice little rest. Thought the race was OVER but as it turned out I was BACK IN THE GAME. And just when the race was getting to my favorite time to ride. After that first 9 hours it felt like things were really coming together.
Came into the race with the goal of a podium finish. If I felt good...maybe go for the course record. That record had stood for over a decade and was held by Denis Johnson. Somebody told me he set a RAAM solo record, too, so it seemed like that would be a worthy reach-out goal. And if everything was just going great a really-reaching-out goal would be achieving a RAAM qualifying distance. Nobody had ever been able to do that on this course.
After my back wheel fell off it seemed all reach-out goals were off the table. But there was plenty of time to think about things & the more I did the math in my head the more I thought maybe all goals were still on the table. Holding a disciplined pace & taking an extra pro-rated lap at the end of the race would put me just over the RAAM-qualifying total of 380 miles.
So that's what I did: set a disciplined pace. Not freak out and try to crush it to get lost time back. Just re-adjust and pedal at an aggressive but do-able steady pace. Start ticking off miles and laps.
By this point in the race I was no longer getting passed. I was only passing. That's usually the sure sign that we're past the half way point! It wasn't long before the eastern horizon started get noticeably less dark & rose colored hints of sunrise started to outshine the sodium glow of urban street lamps. One of the best parts of endurance cycling: sunrise!
Only about 10 hours left. Sadly. No race goes on forever, I guess. I passed some rider on a tri-bike, up out of the saddle, throwing the bike back and forth. Seeing that empty saddle swaying back & forth made me think, 'Wow. I bet his butt hurts by now.' But I was feeling really comfortable...no neck criks, no hot feet, not a hint of a cramp, mentally still very sharp.
As the day wore on & warmed up, every time fatigue started to sit in a little I'd do the math in my head & always, always everything was right on schedule even for my reach, reach out goal. There were two main 'stops' on the course...the pits by the start/finish line & a water station 13 miles out on the course. That's about the half way point on the course lap. 5 hours out from the 24 hour mark I re-upped & resolved to never stop in the pits again. Only stops were going to be at the 13 mile water station. That way if I had a mentally weak moment when I was stopped ...well...I'm halfway back to the hotel anyhow, might as well finish the lap.
Just before the 24 hour mark I finished lap 14. That put me right on the course record. This race allows a pro-rated last lap. If a rider crosses the finish line before 24 hours is up the rider can announced they are taking a pro-rated lap, ride another lap, and get credit for the pro-rated distance achieved on that lap when 24 hours expired. I decided to take a pro-rated lap but wasn't sure of the rules so I had to burn some time making sure the race officials knew I was still out on the course riding. Last thing I wanted to do was ride one more lap hard and find out it didn't count because the race officials ended my timing at the 24 hour period.
There are two major hills on this course...pre-goatneck climb and mile 16 hill. (Was it mile 16? I can't remember for sure. There was a little sign at the bottom that said 'Mile 16' I think). On this last lap it was absolutely delightful to yell nasty things at those hills all the way up...knowing this was the last time I was going up them for a while. At the time I did yell that I was never riding up them again but that's hyperbole! We'll see each other again. I yelled terrible things at those hills & flipped off that 'Mile 16' sign...and regret none of it & take nothing back. But also I can't stay mad at gravity. Without it I'd fly off into space. So no enduring hard feelings, Texas Time Trials Hills.
Rolling over the finish over 25 hours after starting I was pretty sure I'd accomplished all my goals. Road up the road a ways & pulled over & just relaxed on my bike. Listened to the cicadas. Watch some grackles. Sipped some water. Leaned back on my headrest. Started to nod off a little bit & decided to ride back to my car before I fell asleep on my bike & rolled down into the ditch. Then I'd have chiggers all over & that would suck.
Road back to the car & really regretted not having a crew as I had to put my bike back in the car all by myself. Staggered over to Sonic & had one of the best tasting double burgers of my life.
That's pretty much how it went down...