Monday, August 13, 2012

24 Hours of Great Glen Mudfest

It wasn't supposed to be a mudfest.

Team aR Black, Me, Steve Wolfe, Kevin Tilton & Brayden Dunn
Back in January/February, Chris Dunn of Acidotic Racing asked me if i would like to ride the 24 Hours of Great Glen for his team, I said i would since the Turtles had discussed it the year before but never went through with it. I don't ride a real lot, i do some road and some trail riding to compliment my running, but i figured i could log enough miles to be comfortable doing this. In the end, i could have logged more miles, i really don't know if that would have helped, but a dry course would have made it 100% better.

Friday after work, i headed up to NH in the pouring rain, the original plan was to camp out at Great Glen Trails, do a pre race ride, hang out with the Acidotic team and have a few beers. I ended up with a hotel room in Rochester, NH, figuring that a good nights sleep would be important and i wont get that sleeping in a tent. The next morning, i pulled into Great Glen by 8 am, it was wet, but not raining. The sun had been out until i got about 5 miles from Mt Washington and that was all i would see of it for the day. I walked a bit of the course, some single track near the near the Acidotic campsite. The downhill there was a called the Boneyard, it is steep, not too long and has logs across it to form steps, there was a bypass around it that you could walk your bike down if you wanted to be safer. I checked out the switchbacks leading up to it too, they seemed in decent shape, not to muddy, i would hang my opinion on that later on after riding it in the race.

Mud. Everywhere.
I was racing on the aR Black squad made up of Steve Wolfe, Brayden Dunn, Kevin Tilton and myself, i would ride 3rd. At noontime, they line up all the leadoff riders for a running lap of the pond and then they are off on their bikes. Steve led off for us, he handed off to Brayden and then, about 2pm, to me. I never checked out the whole course, so lap 1 would be an adventure. I had some butterflies waiting for the handoff, i'm not a bike racer, i wasn't sure what i was in for. I started quick, passed one rider and gained on a few more, under Rte 16 and over to the climb of Blueberry Hill, saw Giannina Lindsey taking some photos and hit the first uphill, that's when reality hit me. It was a muddy switchback, i pushed the bike a bit and was on my way until i hit a bridge at the top of the hill that i slid off of and my big ring chewed into it like a buzz saw. Another climb and then the real mud started it was sloppy, deep at spots, i couldn't get going in it and had to push the bike along with a few others through this crap. Finally past it, back under Rte 16 and finally onto the fire roads, time for some speed, i made time here, passed some riders, i love riding fast! The miles went by quickly until about 5, the you hit the Strava king of the hill climb, the first half isn't too bad, the second half was horrible for me. It was muddy, rocky and there were good size puddles, who knows how deep, i didn't want to test them. Next 2 miles was amid of unrideable single track (for me anyway) and fire roads, then onto the last single track section, up the switchbacks and to the Boneyard. My mistake coming down the boneyard was too far forward on the bike and taking the wrong line. I got halfway down and then performed a really nice digger, i knew it was coming and i was over the handlebars and landing pretty softly in the brush next to the trail, no harm done. A girl sitting there with a camera asked me if i was ok, i smiled and said i was fine and did she get the photo, when she said no, i scolded for it, told her to always be prepared. From there, i finished up the lap in 1:10 for the 8.7 miles. I handed off to Kevin Tilton and headed to the bike wash area, they were very busy, hit a hot shower and waited 3 hours to do it all again.

The site of my 2:30am digger.
Second lap, a little after 6pm. The rain had started. I felt good about this lap now that i knew the course. I slid off another bridge at the top of Blueberry Hill, did a beautiful header into the brush, got stuck in more mud, cranked out some fast dirt road miles and collected so much mud in my pedals and derailleurs that i had trouble clipping in and shifting gears. If i do this race next year, i'll get different pedals, probably Crank Bros. Egg Beaters. The mud was everywhere by now, picking up speed on single track was tough to do. They rerouted around one treacherous section of trail and were doing maintenance at other sections. Second time to the Boneyard, i walked the bike down, i had just got a nice chainring tattoo on my shin and didn't think i needed to give any more blood on that lap. Done with lap 2, i had 6 hours to my next stint which was to be a double so the riders could get some sleep.

I rested a little, now i know i can actually sleep in the back of my GTI, fold down the back seat, fold the passenger seat forward and i fit pretty good and it was comfortable enough.

Lap 3. 2 am. Light Rain. Back to back. I am not looking forward to this. Headlights on my helmet and handlebars, more than enough light. Waiting for Brayden at the handoff point under the main tent, chatting with Geoff Cunningham, he was riding great and would take his handoff shortly after me. Started good, walked a lot on the other side of Rte 16. coming down one steep hill to the parking lot before the tunnel, i took a wicked digger, don't know what i hit, handled this one perfectly the last 2 laps. I hit hard, knocked my back rim loose, once fixed, i was off. Geoff came by shortly after that, i tried to stay close on the dirt roads, but he was flying. Now another issue...fog. 50 feet visibility at times. Lights almost made it worse. Full speed  on a twisty dirt road in fog can be nerve wracking. More mud, more problems shifting, but only in the small chainring, oh yeah, that's the one i need the most! Run into riders here and there, short conversations and we are separated. Most riders you come up on or get passed by are friendly and will ask if everything is ok. We all know it is a grind, no sense in being an asshole. Walked the Boneyard again, lap finished, one to go. Headed to the bike wash before taking off for lap 4. Felt pretty good, or so i thought.

The Boneyard
1 mile into my double stint, about 3:45am, my quad is cramping, i have been drinking lots of water with NUUN tablets and some Hammer Gels. Up the Blueberry Hill again, both legs cramping, stop to stretch, go again, more cramping. I wanted to drop out so bad here. Keep climbing, pushing bike, can't pedal because of leg cramps. Now the mud, can it get worse? Back downhill toward the tunnel. Hit the dirt roads, can't pedal top speed, inner quad cramping on both legs. Finally gone after a mile or so. Zip through short section of single track, feeling better, still some fog, eerie feeling out there. Bike still not shifting good, lots of mud build up. Back tire wobble, broke a spoke earlier in the day. Long slow walk up the Strava climb, cycling shoes are not made for this. Now i am overdue at the finish, Kevin is probably wondering what the hell happened to me. I look up at one point and see the sky getting brighter, all right!! It is morning. Meet up with a solo rider near the end of my fourth lap, he is leading his age group, probably 12+ laps in. HOLY SHIT! Finally....into the tent, scan my card, where is Kevin? He comes running over and is on his way. Tim Lindsey isn't too far behind me followed by Chris Dunn. We all meet up at the bike wash area.

I get back to Camp Acidotic and Steve asks if i am done, yes, i'm toast, or to quote Roberto Duran..No Mas, No Mas!

Time for breakfast.

I want to thank Chris Dunn for asking to be part of this event. We had a great bunch of riders and support crew from Acidotic Racing. My performance was kind of lackluster, but i had a great time anyway. Maybe i'll even try it again, just hope it is dry that time.


Unknown said...

Scott, come down to Virginia, we have decent single track locally and great riding 2.5 hours away in Sherando National Park outside of Charlottesville!
I'm very impressed that you took part in a 24 hour race - that's tough stuff! I'm sticking with cat 2 (sport) races for now, maybe part of an enduro team in the fall - but only a 6 hour race at Tidewater Challenge.

Unknown said...

Ooops, Scott, that was me, Evelyn.

Scott Mason said...

Hey Ev, great to here from you. It was a tough ride, don't know if i'll try it again, but if i do, i hope it isn't muddy.