Sunday, June 24, 2012

24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest Solo: 1st Place!

It would only make sense to begin with an update on my recovery from the January accident...I'm better than better. I'm better than I was before the accident. With the great gift of Boulder Center of Sports Medicine and my DPT, Larry Meyer, this past weekend was a dream come true. He not only restored my spine and hip alignment, but gave me the knowledge of my asymmetries which will only make me stronger on the bike. Since the accident, frustrations from an ineffective chiropractor had left me wondering if I would recover in time for this season. Within a few weeks at BCSM, I heard the words that had an unanticipated and immediate impact, something along the lines of "Tim, you're 100%." It was at that moment where a profound understanding took place as if I was given my dream again. I was ready to charge on and immediately my confidence towards 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest began to grow substantially. What was so bizarrely entertaining was that I knew something magical was going to stem from this very moment and it couldn't have been more true.

Later in the same week, another monumental occasion presented itself. The totaled bike from the accident was still salvageable with quite a few adjustments. I was on the way to Golden Bike Shop who had been helping me with its resurrection. It didn't dawn on me until I was on the way there of how symbolic it was to have both myself and my bike back to good health in the same week. It was an effort towards justice and the statement that if life is going to try to keep me down, it would have to hit me with something bigger than a Toyota 4Runner the next time.

I couldn't take the synchronicity lightly. The following week I had returned to see Larry for a Basic Medical Bike Fit at BCSM. What better person to perform your bike fit than your DPT?! He made adjustments that I never thought of by my own observations. For instance, I understand now that my left femur is 8-10mm longer than my right and therefore we made several adjustments to help me avoid sitting crooked on the saddle for the first time in my life. I've never felt better on a bike and in the race over the past weekend, it showed. Not a single muscle cramp in 24 hours of racing. At the Voodoo Fire previously in the year and previous to BCSM, I was cramping and aching in about eight locations in my legs.

I realized that not only my body and my bike were aligned, but also the stars. It was undeniable through the language of life that I was being given an opportunity to do something great. Therefore, I prepared for the magical. It was the best way to frame it to myself to focus only on my goals and not the outcome. I've understood lately that attention to detail is one of my strengths and due to racing my first unsupported solo, I had no other choice but to be prepared. And for the preceding three weeks, all I did was think about how to prepare for the race and how to be so prepared that it was as if I did have someone for support. I was looking forward to a race with no support so that if I'm struggling in a future 24 hour solo when I do have support, I have no excuses because I know that I've done this on my own.

Clothing, arranged by thinnest layers on top, thickest layers on the bottom.
This is what preparation ultimately looked like on race day.
Scored a few water bottles from Bike Source. Thanks Jeremiah!
My go to tool box for Honey Stinger.
I also have to thank Ben Welnak, of Twenty2 Cycles, for keeping me in line before the race. And by in line, I mean not riding my bike for an absurd amount of hours before a solo. Here's how it started and it ended with him saying something about how I would drive a coach nuts with how I train. I'm still not sure what he's talking about :). Thanks to Ben putting up with my shenanigans, I think this is the first race in the last two seasons that I've tapered properly for.

Ben checking in before the race. Coincidentally, I was on my way to an "easy" ride so I pulled a U-turn and went back home like a good boy.

The 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest race started at noon on Saturday, June 16, and went to noon on Sunday. The course was 99% glorious singletrack with 1100 feet of climbing per 16 mile lap in McGaffey, NM, a 9 hour drive from Denver. It sits at around 8,000 feet in a desert climate and was 95 degrees the day of the race.

Speaking of ADHD...
Thankfully, for once, there was no Le Mans start. My wish had come true, no looking like a bunch of tools running like we're dancing on hot coals to our bikes in carbon fiber soles. The race was underway and luckily the start was uneventful and I was finally riding my bike. Hallelujah! I can't explain how difficult it is to taper correctly by riding much less and allowing recovery to set in which also means to allow ADHD to kick my ass. No joke, cycling is my Ritalin and when I don't ride, my ADHD is through the roof like you would not believe. Thing is, I don't think people really notice because my ADHD is heavily regulated not by medication, but by cycling.

Lap 1 was underway and I must have been super hyper because I was a Chatty Cathy towing another soloist from San Diego around on the first loop. I'd tell him, "ok, I need to shut up now so I can save my energy for the race." Things is, I just kept on talking and playing getting to know you. My legs were feeling just the same and rearing to go but I stayed close to my goal of settling into my 24 hour pace and remaining under a determined heart rate for once.

Lapping through for the second lap was just like every following lap with no support of any kind. The lap throughs consisted of wiping the chain, applying lube, and stocking up on nutrition and hydration. Despite not ever lingering in the pits I still seemed to have lost quite a bit of time there. Maybe around 45 minutes to an hour over the course of the race which is unacceptable, especially since Nationals will be held here next year. That number will need to be cut down to less than ten minutes by the help of support.

The next several day laps were more of the same. Sheer awesomeness. I was dialing in the course well and due to adequate rest, I had hero legs I've never had before. Hero legs that not only lasted throughout the day laps but took me 13+ hours into the race with not much but mild discomfort in my legs going into the witching hours. I was dialed. I hadn't had to reach for the iPod or caffeine until the 1am mark which I did because that was part of the plan. I went into the witching hours ready to cast a spell on them and cast a spell I did. I did suffer from sleep deprivation where I was blanking out a bit and seeing things, but that's expected and was very tolerable by dialing back a hair on the mean and ripping descents. Like usual, I had an incredible amount of inspiration going into this race (see the busy handlebar). Where riders will have sayings like "shut up legs" on their bar, I have numbers. I won't disclose what the numbers mean unless it's to a close friend, just know that there is a deep seated therapeutic rational which is like motivation on steroids. Nothing makes me ride harder when the going gets tough than those numbers and the picture of my badass pro brother playing basketball against Kobe to the left.

When I first saw the sliver of light at 5:30am, I started picking up the pace more and making the final push to the end. I honestly had been riding so well that I just figured that I was in first place. If you ask me, my mindset had me in first place even before the race. A very helpful supporter of positive morale that I met before the race had asked me about how I was feeling about the race and I divulged an emotionally charged, "I think it's my time." I just knew. I didn't ask what place I was in until going into the 13th lap at around 6am where I was told that second place was only sixty minutes behind me. On lap 13, I therefore went at a cross country pace to give myself some insurance. When I lapped through, I was told that second place had made twenty three minutes on me. This is the only time when not having support made things difficult. I thought, "how could this possibly be?" I couldn't understand how in the world I just pulled a 1:26 13th lap and didn't put time into somebody, but rather someone put 23 minutes into me. Things weren't adding up but the only choice I had was to haul ass. I therefore very briefly panicked but regained composure and raced 1:24 laps on laps 14 and on my final lap, lap 15. I later found out that when they were giving me the time splits between me and second, I was actually a lap AND thirty seven minutes ahead which still doesn't make any sense. I ended up crossing the finish line seconds after second place who had completed his 14th lap. I think he thought he won when he crossed the line until it was announced that the winner was behind him. It was such a bizarre ending but I was so happy to be no longer confused and racing like my life was at stake, literally. I pretended like wolves were chasing me. Whatever it takes. If you have to play tricks on yourself to ride so hard that the pain brings you to the verge of tears, then that's what you need to do. There is no other choice in my mind. Nobody was going to take this away from me.

After years of dreaming, believing, and hard work, I finally won my first mountain bike race ever. For all the sacrifices, the cold winter rides, the suffering, it was well worth it. With such a fruitless sport of mountain biking, it gave me such joy to reap the rewards of everything I've been through ever since I first heard of 24 hour solo mountain bike racing a decade ago. I don't feel this race changed a thing, it only solidified my thoughts and beliefs around myself and 24 hour solo racing and where I want to take it. This was a great effort, a great first effort, but I'm leaving it at that. It was one win, no more. For instance, when I returned to work on Tuesday, I was so supported by my coworkers who decorated emails, meetings, and my cubicle with congratulations. It was so unexpected and so appreciated to have people support you. When Thursday came around, I couldn't focus with all of the congratulations around and had to take down the balloons, streamers, etc in order to focus on the next 24 hour race which looks like either 24 Hours in Colorado Springs Nationals or 24 Hours in Moab. I have a long way to go to fulfill my dream, so I've been analyzing where I can make improvements. It's not a time to relax just because I won.


As for support leading up to the race, I have to thank Candlepower Tech for sponsoring me with the Trail Torch 1800 which has been a killer lighting system in training and racing. Don't believe me? Check the shoot out on MTBR. Sickest light out there and if you want to demo mine, please don't hesitate to ask, I'm always up for a night ride! Also, with support from Stan's NoTubes, I've been racing on the Race Golds which I haven't had to true yet this year I swear there's a motor in them! I'm lucky to have the support of Maxxis for tire selections in training and racing. I don't hesitate to run anything but the tried and true, Ikons in every race. Thank you to the Trek Bicycle Store Boulder and Louisville for your incredible support in keeping my Trek Superfly Pro 100 on the trail. Always a warm welcome when I walk into the shop, you guys rock! Thank you Ergon for keeping my hands happy when wrenching on the handlebar for 24 straight hours. I can't wait for the new SM3 saddles to come out! Also, thanks to Honey Stinger for making such incredible products, especially the Honey Stinger Waffles which are my #1 go to food for on the bike nutrition to restore calories in the ultra endurance events.

Most of all, thank you to Zia Rides, Lisa, Lindsay and the rest of the crew for organizing such a fantastic event and thank you to the team of volunteers that rocked day and night! You guys are all awesome and have built some fantastic memories over the weekend. I understand that it is chaotic to try to create such a fantastic mountain biking atmosphere and culture in the New Mexico area, I really appreciate your hard work. See you next year at the 24 HITEF Nationals!

So excited to ride my bike for 24 hours non-stop!

24 HITEF Articles

Thanks for reading,