Wednesday, August 16, 2006

USA 24 Hour mtb Champion.

At her first race Reba informed us that she did not know anyone at the start of the NORBA season. We told her to call Gerogia Gould also from Idaho. She won't have that problem any more!

2006 24 Hour Solo Mountain Bike Nationals
July 29-30, Wausau, Wisconsin

At the start of the season, I never dreamed I’d be writing a race report as a National Champion in 24 Hour Mountain biking. But, after less than a full season of bike racing and just 8 bike races under my belt, I rode my way to a National Championship title and Stars and Stripes jersey last weekend!

The race was in the Midwest, so that meant I could recruit family members, Mom and Uncle Doug to crew for me. I also flew out my good friend and master mechanic, Jason, from Idaho. As we rolled into the race venue late Thursday night, we noticed motor homes with riders names on them, fancy tents and lots of logos. As a relative underdog and unknown in the cycling world, it was a very intimidating scene. We staked out camp and went back to the hotel to watch the weather channel. There were severe thunderstorm warnings for the weekend. We knew we’d get rained on, it was just a question of how much and when it would strike.

As the solo riders were called up to the line, I looked around at the competition and recognized names I’d read in cycling magazines. The main competition in the women’s field was last year’s winner, Monique Sawicki. As the field was lined up, the race director paraded the National Championship jersey in front of the crowd asking, “who wants to win this?” I glanced at the jersey, but then looked away not wanting to psyche myself out or get too nervous. The plan was to just go out and ride as consistently as possible and execute fast transition times.

The first couple of laps were crazy with the crowds trying to pass on narrow single track. The course was about 14 miles long with over half of it being technical, tight single track. The riding was fast cornering in very tight trees peppered with slippery, technical rocky sections. It was like a fast moving video game. The first three miles were very fast double track with some small climbs, so I tried to use that section of the trail to pedal hard each lap. Once in the single track, it was a fine line between riding fast and staying on the bike.

I was in 2nd place for the first two laps with Monique just a couple minutes ahead. I was riding comfortably and felt good that her lap times weren’t that out of reach for me. I figured it would take a while, but I’d try to reel her in over the 24 hours. I was surprised on the 3rd lap to come across her on a small climb. I passed her quickly and then focused on trying to open up a bit of a gap. I put 5 minutes on her in that 3rd lap, then consistently rode 3-4 minutes faster per lap for the remainder of the race.

Somewhere late at night, I lapped the third place female, but did not want to relax at all. The night riding is my favorite time, so I focused on trying to stay consistent during the night and to continue to open my lead. Despite being careful, I crashed about 6 times during the race, once being a pretty hard, direct hit with my shoulder into a stout tree. The good news is that my shoulder’s not separated or torn. Just incredibly bruised.

About 4am, the wind started howling, the air turned cool and it was clear that we were about to get absolutely hammered with rain. The downpour was incredible! I have seriously never been in a deluge like that. It was as if buckets were being pour directly on my head. The pace quickly slowed because visibility was seriously impossible. I kept riding and was just getting adjusted to the weather, when race officials waved me down and forced me to stop. I was about 1/2 way around my lap at an aid station. There were about 30 riders stopped there under tents and the officials were handing out trash bags for us to wear. As we waited, lightning was cracking all around us. As I shivered in the fetal position inside my trash bag and tried to relax my cramping legs, I wondered how much of my lead I was losing by being stopped.

They kept us there about 45 minutes and attempted a re-start. I finished that lap wearing the trash bag and took about 30 minutes to get warm again and coax my body back into race mode. I headed out for another lap, unaware now of where the 2nd place woman was or how much of a gap I had on her. At 9am, with just one hour to go in the scheduled race time, I pulled up to our transition area ready to swap bikes and head out on my final lap. My trusty crew was just standing around and my 2nd bike was not ready to ride. I was a bit delirious and confused. That’s when they informed me that the race was over. The officials had stopped the race again due to more approaching storms and had given everyone an official finishing time from the first stop at 5:30am. It meant I’d ridden an extra 2 hours that I did not get credit for, but I didn’t care. It also meant that I was officially the new National Champion!

Technical Details:
In the end, I rode 16 laps, 224 miles and 23 hrs, but due to the early stop, only got credited for 14 laps. My fastest lap time was 1:11:44. Average lap time was 1:20:32.
I was an hour ahead of the next female and would have finished 8th in the men’s field.
My longest pit stop was probably about 2 minutes, with an average pit time of around 30 seconds. I rotated between two Specialized bikes throughout the race so that Jason could work on one while I was riding the other. One was a carbon S-Works Epic, the other an aluminum S-Works Epic. Bike fit was provided by Wobble Naught custom bike fitting. My fuel consisted mainly of Hammer Nutrition products, Red Bull and chicken/avocado sandwiches. My illumination during the night laps was provided by Light and Motion. Shades by Smith Optics. Last but not least, my amazing crew consisted of Mom, Uncle Doug and Jason Bauer from George’s Cycles in Boise. Thanks to all of my sponsors, friends and family for coming together to make this happen for me. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Next stop for mountain biking: 24 Hour World Championships in Oct!

Rebecca(208)720-2676 C(208)726-3864 H

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