May 10, 2008
It was Wednesday, April 23, and everything went smoothly that morning until we had to switch flights. Although we had a nonstop flight, we had to deplane and replane in Atlanta before the plane even moved...nice.
We arrived about an hour late into San Diego and the Vassago guys were there waiting. We drove around for awhile collecting some odds and ends and then someone mentioned beer. One of the greatest breweries ever, Stone Brewing Co. is located in Escondido, California. Being that we are all connoisseurs of adult beverages, we absolutely had to go.
Vassago treated us to a growler of Arrogant Bastard Oaked Ale to take with us to our hotel room in Temecula since they were dropping us off with no car. No worries, we now had lots of beer and two bikes to get around!
On Thursday, April 24, we pre-rode the race course with Eddie's local friend Orion. The temperature on the completely sun-exposed course was perfect for the pre-ride but we knew it would rise 20 degrees in the next two days. After the ride we noticed that Namrita's brand new fork was spewing oil. Uh oh!
A few hours later, we received notice that Vassago had located a replacement White Brothers fork for Namrita. Phew...thanks guys! But wait...we then found out that the UPS box with Eddie's front wheel, our sports nutrition products including the essential Saltstick tabs, extra drivetrain parts, Hayes brake pads, Eggbeater pedals, extra WTB tires, and more was officially lost. This was not good news to receive with only one day left before the race!
On Friday, the Vassago guys, Eddie, and Namrita worked all day to find replacements for everything that was in the missing box. One issue remained, though. After having the new fork installed on Namrita's bike we realized that it was a 100mm fork, not an 80mm! Her Wobble-naught bike fit that had been perfectly dialed in was based on the bike geometry with the 80mm fork. Unfortunately, we couldn't refit the bike with Wobble-naught at this point in time so Namrita was going to have to do the best she could do under the circumstances. Thanks to Vassago Cycles, White Brothers, and Brian and Carol Ann from the Path Bike Shop for their help in rallying some additional spare parts and nutrition products to make things work.
Namrita's race report
When we arrived at Vail Lake on Saturday, it was already extremely hot, mid-90s (degrees Farenheit) before the race even started. Thankfully the run was short and it seemed as though I was the first female to hit the trail. We started on a sandy bit, then hit a dirt road which would climb for three miles. This was the dam climb, or the damn climb as I like to call it. The climb was steady but there are a few long steep pitches. I rode most, if not all, if it on my first lap but being with a single gear, I opted to walk some of the steeps on the subsequent laps. I was passed early on one of the flat sections by Terri and Liz. I wasn't concerned as I was able to catch up quickly once the road turned upward. They were climbing smart and steady, but with a singlespeed there is not always a smart and steady option.
After the dam climb there is a bit of technical ridgeline singletrack that rolls through some rocky terrain and has two steep loose powder sand descents. I found out later most (if not all) the other women were walking these. Thankfully I rode it through each lap with almost 100% success because that increased my lead every lap. The rest of the course had more descending and some rollers where I was also able to gain some time and have some fun.
I was a little nervous after my first lap that I wouldn't be able to handle the heat. It was now in the upper 90s but I was not sweating. I didn't feel like I was able to cool myself at all so I decided to drop the pace so I was not killing myself in the heat. Despite this, my lap times were pretty steady and I was able to stay in first for the rest of the day. I played it smart with my pacing and my nutrition and thankfully it worked out.
On my second night lap, one of my lights died. This made the lap quite interesting to ride as I couldn't see any of the sand or ruts. I crashed three times on this lap! It was slow but I tried walking one of the downhills and that was scarier than just riding it out. Luckily I made it back in one piece and was able to get a fresh Light & Motion battery. On one of my crashes, I lost my RFID card which I needed to make my laps official. I didn't realize it until I had already come in from my lap and they wouldn't let me go out without paying $5. The Vassago crew took care of that ASAP and I was on my way again.
The sky was incredible, I felt like I was on top of the world as I could see all the stars and there were no trees to hide them. Since I had the time to do so, I actually took a few breaks up on the ridgeline at night just to take it all in. I really was enjoying myself...not like other 24 hour solo races in the past.
At 3:00 am, I knew I was still three laps up on the field so I decided to skip the last night lap in favor of a nap. I ate a nice meal of Doritos, turkey sandwich, a burnt potato, and some Ruffles. I tried to sleep in the tent but couldn't make it happen. Then, Eddie came in around 5:00 am complaining that his knee was bothering him.
I decided to get dressed and on the bike again to ride the sunrise lap with him. However, his knee was hurting so badly that he couldn't put any pressure on it and had to walk all the climbs. Again, the desert beauty did not disappoint. I wish I had pictures, the view was so incredible at sunrise. I ended up riding that lap out, plus one more. At this point in the morning, the winds had picked up and the ridge riding was getting interesting! I had to ride on the extreme left side of the road/trail at the top to avoid getting blown off to the right.
At 8:45 am I rolled up to the pit with 11 laps and they said I could stop because I was still three laps up and no one could possibly catch me. I was fine with that decision and turned in my card. I didn't wear myself out like normal at this one. Don't get me wrong, it was difficult due to the heat and the climbs, but I did about the same mileage as I normally would in a 12 hour race, not a 24 hour. Still, my mission was accomplished: A great first 24 hour solo race to start the Granny Gear points series and top of the podium for icing on the cake!
Eddie's race report
I purposely took off slowly, even on the run, knowing there was three miles of dirt road climbing to start the lap and the 90+ degree Farenheit temps with no shade on the course. I watched as [Rob] Lichtenwalner powered away early on thinking "perfect, hit as hard as you can so I can pass your withered self in a couple of hours."
Well, it didn't work out that way. The heat got us both, but it really neutralized me. My lap times were OK, but I was slowly fading through the daylight hours. My stomach was a mess, and I knew that would cost me later when I'd need to dip into the reserves.
Once the temperature cooled off, I felt better and ate as much as I could. My laps improved some, but I was down a lap from first and second. I maintained until around 3:00 am thinking I still had some legs to stage a come back when the sun came up again. Then, an ache in my knee began. I may have crashed on it (there were a number of these during the night), but it hurt when I pedaled and I still had nine hours to go. I walked most of the climbs on the next lap and was rather conservative on the descents. Some of the descents had deteriorated to powder and sand covered death traps in the dark. The sand hid the rocks and ruts underneath so I had to either take a best guess line or walk.
That lap took me about two hours and I lost another lap to Rob and Chuck so much for the comeback I had planned. I was a frustrated because my legs felt pretty good climbing, but it was not to be. I checked the results and decided to put one more lap into fourth place just to be sure I could secure a podium spot. I walked, soft pedaled, and gently rolled another lap. I was now three laps down to Rob and Chuck, and there was no point in spending any more energy on this one. I had secured third and some decent points for the national series (Rob would finish second, which keeps the series points tight).
Stay tuned for more!
Eddie and Namrita O'Dea
See more coverage from the 24 hours of Vail Lake.